Quebec Garden Centres prepare to inspire in August

The IGCA team is eager to explore the many exceptional garden centres across Québec between numerous Québecois cultural experiences.

The annual International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) congress is coming to Québec, Canada, August 25-31 in what is shaping up to be an exceptional cap to the summer, writes Stuart Service of the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA), for FCI.

Each year, more than 200 delegates from 20 countries attend the IGCA’s annual congress, visiting numerous garden retailers to inspire, exchange ideas, and help independent garden centres become more competitive in a changing retail environment.
This August, the IGCA will visit 11 stores, witnessing breathtaking scale, innovative merchandising, spectacular plant quality and multi-generational history. Amidst the backdrop of stunning landscapes and vibrant floral displays, these garden centres are not merely retail spaces but destinations for family-friendly outings and immersive experiences.

Floralies Jouvences .

Celebrating Quebec’s horticultural industry

From the expansive thematic gardens of Jardins Michel Corbeil to the educational butterfly exhibit at Jardin Hamel, many centres offer a unique blend of retail and recreational opportunities. Moreover, with landmarks like Jardin Dion marking significant milestones in Quebec’s horticultural history, the IGCA congress promises to showcase excellence in garden retail and celebrate the rich heritage and pioneering spirit of Quebec’s horticultural industry. As delegates explore these establishments, they will gain insight into innovative merchandising and plant quality and witness firsthand the deep-rooted connection between Quebecers and their beloved garden centres.

In terms of scale, Jardin Hamel near Québec City is a massive 5,000m² store that will see about 130,000 customers this year.
François Parent of Jardin Hamel, says: “In terms of the quantity of variety of plants we have, I unfortunately can’t tell you because there are so many.” “There are simply thousands of varieties, which makes it difficult to count.”


Papillons en Fête

A big draw to Hamel is ‘Papillons en Fête,’ a six-week event from February to April when over 35 butterfly species and about 15,000 butterflies flutter around 1,000m of the store.

“This is an event that happens during a slower season, when there’s spring break, and parents don’t know what to do with their kids,” Parent said: “We offer a nice activity that is very affordable.”

Late August is perfect for a visit to Jardins Michel Corbeil, which includes a huge plant nursery, vibrant garden centre and expansive thematic gardens to explore. Dinner will be served within the display gardens, and IGCA guests will be treated to a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary experience, where they will see young butterflies take their first flight.

Paradis Jardins et Accessoires.

Beautiful environments

Turning a garden centre into a family-friendly, sight-seeing activity is a theme at many of the garden centres, including Pépinière Villeneuve, which offers customers a more than five-kilometre trail system, a petting zoo and is a draw for bird-watching enthusiasts.

“The customers have an incredible loyalty to their garden centre,” said Martin Breault from Pépinière Villeneuve, who added that the experiences around the Villeneuve create long-lasting customer relationships.

“We want people to come in at Villeneuve and have a moment in nature looking through beautiful environments,” he continued. “People don’t necessarily remember a particular experience about the plants; they remember it was a place where they used to hike and picnic.”

Jardins Michel Corbeil.

Landscape professionals

The IGCA visits Jardin2m, a giant garden centre on 500,000 sq ft of land that’s celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Jardin2m makes the most of its garden centre’s landmass by appealing to both retail customers and landscape professionals.

“Usually what we see is a garden centre for retail and then a yard for landscapers,” said Jardin2m owner Mariève Dyotte. “At our place, everything is together.”

To help customers visualise the trees and shrubs beyond the containers and wire baskets in which they’re sold, Jardin2m has a vast, walkable demonstration garden that provides living examples of how a selection of their inventory of more than 85,000 plants will grow at different times of maturity.

Staffing reaches about 50 people during the peak of the season, all of whom have been working at Jardin2m for more than two years and who are eager to show off their store when the IGCA visits.

70 years of business

Also celebrating a milestone year is Jardin Dion, which is in its 70th year of business. Jardin Dion was started by two brothers, Guy and Wilfred Dion, who were landscape contractors who would buy plants for their projects. Whenever a customer cancelled, the brothers would have surplus plant material, which passersby would inquire about purchasing.

“In 1954, there was only one nursery for all of the province,” said Mathieu Dion, president of Jardin Dion. His grandfather, Wilfred, began selling surplus plant material outside of his home. “He saw that there was a demand for this. In 1954-1960, he was really a pioneer of horticulture here in Québec.”

Jardin Dion employs 225 people at its peak season, and has grown over the years to three store locations, as well as a large landscaping division that generates almost half of Dion Group’s revenue.

“We’re very, very happy to welcome you to our garden centre,” Poirier said of the IGCA’s late-August visit to Jardin Dion’s Sainte-Thérèse establishment. “We really have wonderful employees who will be smiling with you, beautiful plants, a beautiful, warm garden centre with lots of love.”

Floralies Jouvences at Les Botanistes

Guided tours

Along with seeing these and many other examples of the incredible standard in garden retail being set in the province, the IGCA will feature numerous sights to see. The congress includes visits to Montmorency Falls, guided tours through Québec City and Old Montréal, dinner and entertainment at a Sugar Shack, a dinner cruise to admire the magnificent panorama of Montréal, and much, much more.

Visit for registration details.

This article was first published in the June 2024 issue of FloraCulture International.

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