Nursery Networking

I was sailing south with the acoustic radio station blaring and the sun shining overhead. As I closed in on Baltimore and my first Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS®), an eagle soared over my car. According to my ‘Animal Speak’ book, an eagle sighting indicates the need to embark on change with an uprightness in your soul. To leave the old behind and focus on embracing something new and wonderful. Another indication that I was headed in the right direction (literally) by leaving corporate America behind to focus on my landscape design career.

One thing I learned in corporate America was the power of networking. The Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, widely known as The Masterpiece of Trade Shows™, seemed like the perfect opportunity to network in my new field. MANTS® trade shows have been held since 1971 and as the tagline says, MANTS® means business!

MANTS® signs welcomed visitors

Held at the Baltimore Convention Center, MANTS® serves the horticulture industry and features plants, equipment and everything in between. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how applicable the show would be for me, so I decided to walk the floor to see what I could learn. It’s a good thing I wore comfortable shoes since there were 1,500 booths and 3 miles of carpeted aisles to peruse. 

One of the many aisles I walked

I found specimen hollies that were planted the year I was born, plants with flower tags dangling like ornaments to show what the blooms would look like, interesting topiary forms, unusual conifers and information on tree diapers – an advanced tree hydration system. I could even have purchased a Bobcat if I desired!

The Tree Diaper hydration system booth

Specimen hollies that were planted in the early 60’s

A Camellia plant with tags showing blooms
A flower topiary
The Bobcat that could have been mine!

After hours of walking the floors, I returned to my hotel to put my feet up. I had collected about 10 pounds of brochures, which I started to weed through. I realized, for the most part, the show was geared towards wholesale nurseries and garden centers, but I made some meaningful connections. 

The many catalogs I had to sift through

I met some members of the Garden Writers Association (GWA), which I had recently joined, and made contact with Delaware Valley University, where I hope to find some eager students to help me with intermittent landscape work during my busy season. And of course I saw some of my favorite nursery owners. All in all it was a good trip and a great way to spend a cold winter day!  

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