National Gardening Association announces Garden Groups Come Together to Celebrate National Garden Month


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Rose Getch
(800) 538-7476, ext. 129
rose@garden.org

Garden Groups Come Together to Celebrate National Garden Month

South Burlington, VT (April, 2003) - It was a glorious, warm spring day in Washington, DC, when the National Gardening Association hosted a ceremony to kick-off National Garden Month. Leaders of green organizations and the lawn and garden industry gathered in the beautiful West Gallery of the United States Botanical Garden, where distinguished guests spoke with eloquence and excitement, ushering in this month-long celebration for gardeners across the nation.

This event was a true "coming together" of the vast gardening community with a common idea and shared goal. The "Power of Gardening" was brought alive as speakers expressed various ways that gardening transforms lives. Everyone there left with a much deeper understanding of the beliefs that Valerie Kelsey, President of the National Gardening Association, declared in her opening remarks: gardening promotes responsible earth stewardship, and physical and emotional health; gardens enhance local and global communities; gardens are learning environments; and gardens infuse our lives with beauty.

Larry Sommers, Vice President of the National Gardening Association, shared some findings from the organization's latest lawn and garden market survey. "Household participation of lawn and garden activities has reached an all-time high of 85 million households. And despite the soft economy, lawn and garden retail sales experienced a 5% increase over $2 million last year, while many industries saw no gains. Gardening is not recession-proof, but it is recession-resistant…lawn and garden activities share the 'Top 3 Leisure Activities' spotlight with walking and swimming."

Speaking on behalf of trade sponsors of National Garden Month, Jeff Gibson, Marketing Manager for Ball Horticultural, expressed how happy he and his company are to be among the founding sponsors of National Garden Month. Joining in the celebration were executives from other sponsors, Wolf-Garten, Soil Soup, and Star® Roses. As sponsor for National Garden Month's "Learning with Roses" grant program, Star® Roses will award roses to schools throughout the United States.

Valerie Kelsey presented gifts from the National Gardening Association to the 4th grade class of Francis Scott Key Elementary School for use in their school garden, one of many such gardens created in partnership with Hilton Garden Inns. Kevin Robert, manager of the Hilton Garden Inn Arlington/Courthouse Plaza Hotel, spoke about his pride in helping the school children in his community by supporting their garden. Hilton Garden Inns across the country have been joining this initiative to grow school gardens in their communities.

Representatives from green organizations spoke with a sincere, unified voice about their belief in the "Power of Gardening". Robert Dolibois, Executive Vice President of the American Nursery & Landscape Association brought home to the audience what would be lacking in all of our lives were it not for gardening. Katy Moss Warner, President of the American Horticultural Society, talked about an ailment in our society she referred to as "plant blindness" and encouraged an increased daily awareness and appreciation for the plants all around us. Jim Stofan, Senior Vice President of Education Programs for National Wildlife Federation, spoke about their Backyard Wildlife Habitat program which encourages everyone - homeowners, teachers, and community leaders - to plan their landscape with the needs of wildlife in mind for the enrichment of all species. Christine Flanagan, Manager of the U.S. Botanic Garden and member of the National Gardening Association's Board of Directors, reminded us that as members of society, as parents, as teachers, as citizens, we share the responsibility of preparing the next generation to assume the leadership of our institutions and stewardship of our environment. She pointed out that gardening with children is really about planting the seeds of our future.

Members of the press and the public expressed their heartfelt appreciation to the National Gardening Association for bringing to light what they have long known: that gardening has the power to transform individuals and local and global communities.

For more information regarding National Garden Month, including a calendar of events and "101 Ways to Celebrate," please visit www.garden.org





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