National Garden Festival wins International Garden Tourism Award

The National Garden Festival, an organization I helped to co-found, has won the International Garden Tourism Promotion of the Year at the Garden Tourism Conference, held in Toronto, Canada on March 19, 2013.

Sally Cunningham, director of the National Garden Festival (beautiful in blue); Ed Healy, VP of Marketing for Visit Buffalo Niagara (in the nice tie, above); and myself (with all the gray, above) accepted the award on behalf of the Festival's organizers and volunteers.

Cited as the reason the National Garden Festival was singled out for this award, Michel Gauthier, chair of the Garden Tourism Conference, declared, "The six-week long garden promotion is an outstanding demonstration of what can happen when you bring together all the garden energy of a community with the tourism energy of the same community. This unique promotion has put Buffalo on the map like no other promotion. The National Garden Festival intends to build upon the very real excitement, publicity, and visibility created by Garden Walk Buffalo, "America's best event of its kind." This multi week festival expands the opportunities for garden tourists to visit Buffalo beyond Garden Walk weekend and builds on America's growing obsession with all things green. Congratulations!"

The Garden Tourism Awards are presented to organizations and individuals who have distinguished themselves in the development and promotion of the garden experience as a tourism attraction. Recipients traveled from across North America and as far away as Japan, France, Portugal, Italy, and Australia to proudly accept their Awards.

“It is an honor to be part of the international community that has established an awards program to recognize the invaluable contribution the world’s outstanding garden experiences make, not only in terms of environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism, but also in terms of the equally important intangible benefits that nature brings to the soul,” said Alexander Reford, Chair of the Canadian Garden Tourism Council as he handed out the Awards (left, in photo at top).

Shown are the winners from (left to right) Portugal,
France, Italy, Japan, and Australia.

Buffalo's National Garden Festival was in good (worldwide) company. The complete list of winners includes:

  • Garden of the Year
    The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, Merano, Italy
  • Achievement of the Year
    Gardens Without Limits Conference, Moselle, France
  • Event of the Year
    Gardening World Cup, Nagasaki, Japan
  • Festival of the Year
    Ponte de Lima International Garden Festival, Portugal
  • Initiative of the Year
    Chelsea Fringe Festival, London, England
  • Promotion of the Year
    National Garden Festival, Buffalo, NY
  • Website of the Year
  • Person of the Year
    Richard Barley, CEO Open Gardens Australia

  • Atlanta Botanical Garden. Atlanta, Georgia
  • The Butchart Gardens. Brentwood Bay (Victoria), British Columbia
  • Chanticleer. Wayne, Pennsylvania
  • Filoli Gardens. Woodside, California
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Richmond, Virginia
  • Missouri Botanical Garden. St. Louis, Missouri
  • Montreal Botanical Garden. Montreal, Quebec.
  • Portland Japanese Garden. Portland, Oregon
  • Springs Preserve. Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico  

  • Garden of the Year
    Kingsbrae Garden, St. Andrews, NB
  • Achievement of the Year:
    Canadian Botanical Conservation Network
  • Botanical Garden of the Year
    VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, BC
  • Destination of the Year
    Montréal, QC
  • Destination Garden Centre of the Year
    The Enjoy Centre, St. Albert, AB
  • Event of the Year
    Mosaïculture International de Montréal, QC
  • Festival of the Year
    Canadian Tulip Festival, Ottawa, ON
    • Honourable Mention
      Garden Voices of Ontario’s Historic Gardens
  • Initiative of the Year
    St. Albert Botanical Art City, AB
  • New Garden Experience of the Year
    Whistling Gardens, Wilsonville, ON
  • Promotion of the Year, Peterborough & Area, ON
  • Person of the Year
    Dave Cowen, BC Garden Tourism Society/The Butchart Gardens, BC
The Patrons of The Garden Tourism Awards are: Canadian Garden Tourism Council, Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA), American Public Gardens Association (APGA) and Garden Tourism Conference.

The Garden Tourism Awards are supported by: Ontario and BC Garden Tourism Coalitions, Associations des jardins du Québec, Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association (LO), Communities in Bloom, Jardins sans limites, Metz, France.

The Garden Tourism Awards are sponsored by: VIA Rail Canada, Baxter Travel Media, Canadian Tourism Commission, CNLA, Air Canada and the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific.


  1. Congrats for the award as it is well deserved. I hope to travel and visit many of these shows and gardens as I retire from the 9 to 5 job.

    1. Yeah, these 9-5 jobs suck. Thanks for your kind words!

  2. How wonderful. I know from a conversation we had at last years Blogger's Fling how much the Buffalo event means to you. Congratulations!

    1. Thanks Carolyn, I've had a blast and met some great people while running the event -- and best of all -- have shared some great things about Buffalo with the world. Onward to bigger things (while I still help with Garden Walk!).


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