America's only association focused exclusively
on the needs of Independent Garden Centers.

Garden Centers of America:
Together We're Better!

This Month's GCA Member Profile

IGC East Details Here

IGC Chicago Details Here

Your GCA Member Benefits at the IGC Shows

Enter Now! GCA's Best Bathroom Awards

Destination for 2016 GCA Summer Tour Announced - Portland, Here We Come!

Next year's GCA Summer Tour is headed to Portland, OR, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the garden centers that make this Northwestern market a hub of retail innovation. Portland has been called a treasure trove of merchandising and retail inspiration, so be sure to pack your notebook and camera!

In addition to touring Portland garden centers, plans are being made now to take attendees to a major grower and principal plant supplier to IGC retailers across the nation.

Do you have suggestions for some really awesome stops?  Email your suggestions to and tell us why you think they would make the 2016 Summer Tour spectacular!

Watch for the late-June dates and destinations of next year's tour to be announced in the coming months.

2015 GCA Summer Tour Milwaukee Social Media Recap

In case you missed all of the coverage of this year's GCA Summer Tour in Milwaukee, WI, here are some of the highlights from social media:

"At one of yesterday's stops on the 2015 GCA Summer Tour in the Milwaukee area, K&W Greenery provided an interesting use of what would otherwise be throw-away wood shipping pallets. Co-owner Phyliss Williams reports she just throws a quick paint wash on them and turns them into useful store display items. She feels Millennials especially appreciate the re-purposing, which is so trendy these days."

"First stop this morning on the 2015 GCA Summer Tour was the conodial domes - the three that comprise the Milwaukee Domes of the Mitchell Park Conservatory. Attendees toured the three distinct domes - tropical, desert and show garden. All were very impressed with these horticultural gems here in the Midwest."


"Yesterday on the GCA Summer Tour in the Milwaukee area, we saw these products at two stores. Really cool, faux antique rusted shovels that are laser cut with cool designs. Designed to stand upright, stuck in the ground as garden art, they hold rain gauges in the shovel art design. Johnson's Gardens in Cedarburg, WI, asks customers to pick up the rain gauge vessels upon check out."

"This morning, the 2015 GCA Summer Tour made its way through southeastern Wisconsin to stop at Oconomowoc Landscape Supply & Garden Center, where we found this incredible and impressive bulk mulch and stone display. Retailers on the tour were wowed by this unique and high-end presentation, which according to Owner Terry Van Lare, helps create his impressive sales in these categories."

"2015 GCA Summer Tour attendees gathered after a delicious lunch at Ebert's Greenhouse Village, Ixonia, WI, the entire entourage traveling by doubledecker bus this week, touring all of southeastern Wisconsin. The tour has been a hit and only experienced a few showers among the mostly bright, sunny skies."


August 04, 2015 • Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, MD
August 09, 2015 • Various locations in Denmark
August 18, 2015 • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
August 19, 2015 11:30 AM • Room 324, IGC Show, Chicago, IL


Noah Donovan, Green Goods Manager
Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery, Tucson, AZ
Industry Tours Offer New Opportunities for Fresh Displays, Growing Techniques

With about 20 acres of growing facilities and another 4 acres dedicated to retail space, Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery in Tucson, AZ, has everything that gardeners need to beautify their outdoor living spaces.

“As far as plants go, we offer everything imaginable, from 4-inch herbs, 4-inch perennials, annual bedding plants to 24-inch box oak trees,” says Noah Donovan, Green Goods Manager at Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery. And they employ a combination of growing techniques to ensure the success of their plant material, whether it’s still in-store or in the customer’s garden.

“We grow from seed for any of our native plants,” Noah says. “We grow from cuttings in many cases, and we also order in plugs from different vendors. We propagate in all of these methods.”

When Noah and his team are searching for new ideas for propagation, new plant varieties or interesting displays for their outdoor retail patio, they turn to what other garden centers and nurseries are doing.

“A lot of my inspiration for propagating new varieties that we haven’t grown yet comes from touring nurseries,” he says. “We’re fortunate enough to go to different industry shows and tours in California, Texas and even as far as Illinois.”

One of the tours Noah mentioned as being a real inspiration was last year’s GCA Summer Tour to San Francisco, CA, where he found some great ideas for displays. “Flora Grubb had really cool uses of succulents in displays. We do certain displays to that effect, but I really liked some of her succulent plantings.” Noah continues, “We look for interesting displays more than anything, but we’re always on the lookout for something new, whether it’s an odd succulent or a gorgeous blooming lantana we haven’t come across.”

But browsing the diverse landscapes of different cities goes beyond the scheduled garden center tours, Noah makes a point to peruse neighborhoods’ landscapes as well as people’s gardens. “It gives us ideas for new plant combinations and what the home gardener wants in her landscape.”

Garden center tours, including the IGC Chicago Monday Store Tour, have been a great source of ideas for Noah, especially since he gets to network and exchange information with other IGC retailers and growers. “It’s great to share ideas with people, whether it’s growing tips or management tips,” he says. “There’s always something you can take away from networking. Even if it is just one small important detail, it can change your year and how you conduct business.”

Nursery Sprouted from a Seedling

Twenty-four years ago, Owner Thomas Birt started his nursery business in his backyard growing box mesquite trees and other types of desert trees. “Tom ended up renting a portion of his neighbor’s backyard to expand his growing space,” Noah says.

Eventually, Tom bought a small property for his nursery business then began picking up parcels of land surrounding the area. What started out as a small-time growing operation in his background grew to include approximately 24 acres with a nursery and garden center.

“As the years go by, we increase the diversity in our products and plants,” Noah says. “We’re trying to focus less on volume and more on diversity and quality.”

Today, Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery is known amongst customers as the “go-to” garden center with the largest selection, largest variety and best quality of plants, trees, edibles, herbs, decor and supplies.

Click here to read more Member Profiles.

IGC East Is Fast Approaching!


IGC East, August 4-6 at the Baltimore Convention Center, is the preeminent trade exhibition and conference for independent garden center retailers. Owners, managers and buyers come to see thousands of new products, meet with hundreds of established and rising-star suppliers, attend inspiring keynotes and educational sessions covering every aspect of the business and exchange ideas with legions of fellow professionals.

Register today! Don’t miss 2015’s best opportunity to recharge your creative batteries, rekindle your passion and stock your shelves with a bounty of compelling products. Click here to register or to read more about IGC East!

IGC Chicago Is Almost Here!


The ninth annual IGC Chicago is widely recognized as single best event for garden center owners, managers and buyers. Each year the entire industry comes to buy at IGC because it has hundreds of exhibitors, thousands of new products and scores of educational opportunities. Plus it's 100% pure garden-centric! This means you will spend more time with the right vendors and less time walking miles of aisles of products you don't sell. It's all here on display for your inspection and order-writing from 700+ new and established vendors spanning spectacular Navy Pier's 210,000 square feet surrounded by Lake Michigan's azure waters on three sides and enchanting downtown Chicago on the fourth.

Register today! Don’t miss 2015’s best opportunity to recharge your creative batteries, rekindle your passion and stock your shelves with a bounty of compelling products. Click here to register or to read more about IGC Chicago!

It Pays To Be A GCA Member at the IGC Shows!

As a member of the Garden Centers of America, there are the additional benefits for you at IGC East and IGC Chicago:

  • Savings of $100 on each IGC Retail Conference "All-Access Pass" Package, and $60 off each IGC Show Garden Center Bus Tour registration
  • Two free drink tickets per company for use at the IGC Show FREE Tuesday Party & Concert featuring the Gin Blossoms
  • Special reserved seating at the Gin Blossoms Concert
  • GCA Member Networking Lunch at IGC Chicago
Click here to register for IGC East or IGC Chicago!

GCA Opens Call for Entries - Best Bathrooms

GCA's Best Garden Center Bathroom Awards, now in their fifth year, recognize IGC retailers whose restrooms contribute to the store's favorable shopping experience. The deadline for entries is 5 p.m. EDT, July 17, 2015. The winner of the top honor, the Gold Award, will receive a plaque and one free registration for next year's GCA Summer Tour 2016. Other recognitions will include a Silver Award and several Awards of Merit, honored with plaques. Last year's Gold Award winner was The Garden Mart, pictured above, in Mukwonago, WI.

To enter the competition, garden centers should send several photos of their store bathrooms, saved in jpeg file format, along with a brief paragraph about the bathrooms, the concept behind the designs and their benefits to the garden center. This information, along with the name of the store and key contact, address, phone and e-mail address, should be e-mailed to

Click here to read more about this contest!

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Garden Centers of America
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