Cincinnati Home & Garden

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Spring is here and so are the Home & Garden shows! Our friends at Green Streets Environmental Services were excited to be involved in this year’s Cincinnati Home & Garden Show.  As a founding partner in The Sustainability Partnership of Cincinnati (TSPC), they are a leader in green build and construction – from LEED and Passive Architecture through finished construction.

For his year’s conference, Green Streets and TSPC worked up a full sustainably-minded garden and eco house. The “Milky Way Garden and Star Powered Home” name given by partner Lohre & Associates of Cincinnati, was designed with input from all of the partners. “This has really helped spark imagination” said Tre Sheldon, one of the principles at Green Streets. 

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Filled with sustainable materials, and unique idea’s, the visitors could see solar panels, raised planters, green roofs, and living walls. The living wall used our VGM modular wall unit, and was designed and installed by Green Streets Environmental Services with special help from the West Hills Green Houses also of Cincinnati. “The versatility, durability, and design of Tournsol’s products are truly the very best on the market today” said Benjamin Haggerty of Green Streets. He went on to say “be it an interior or exterior application, we won’t work with any other supplier then Tournsol for Living Walls, there just isn’t anything better”. Thanks, Benjamin, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

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Since 1969, Cincinnati has welcomed Hart Productions Home & Garden show as a right of spring and a unique oasis that help’s shake off those winter blues. Tens of thousands come through annually to tour unique gardens and see the latest offerings and most innovative products from all over the world. Thanks to Green Streets for including Tournesol Siteworks this year!

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Reflections on 20

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Today Tournesol Siteworks is celebrating our 20th anniversary.

sunflowerAnyone who has spent twenty years doing something is bound to have a lot of conflicting emotions about it.  There have been plenty of good times, some tough ones, and everything in between.

Tournesol  Siteworks is no exception. In the beginning I figured we’d hit a home run with a remarkable self-watering product at retail, then sell the business once it had grown big after 5 years. When that didn’t happen (despite lots of efforts and a stint on the Home Shopping Network for me), plan B became to grow the business the hard way. I never considered walking away, although there were times when we probably should have!

In hindsight, I figure I got lucky.  I got to run a manufacturing business, which is always what I wanted to do. I never had a particular passion for landscape or plants, but I am delighted that I found myself in this business. We enhance the public good. We work at the intersection of landscape and architecture, making green possible for buildings and urban settings. We can be satisfied that we soften the constructed environment, and bring a piece of nature to city dwellers. I never have to apologize for the products we manufacture, or their effect on the environment.

I’ve really enjoyed the people who’ve shared in the experience of growing this company. I work with 50 people, most of whom (I think) are glad to be at work every day. My greatest challenge is continuing to offer them an environment where they can make the most of their talents, and earn a good living while doing it. When I think back over 20 years, I can really pick out those people that made an impact on who we are today. Some are still here, and others aren’t, but the business wouldn’t be the same without them.

Tomorrow looks better than ever. They say that it is much easier to grow a large business than a small one. We’ve been able to leverage what growth we’ve achieved, and invest it back in innovation, partnerships, and our customers. I’m as excited about the future as ever.  When I started out 20 years ago we had 8 employees – ten years later we had 11.  Today we have 50, and our plan is to continue to double in size every three years. We’re fortunate that the construction economy has come back, and we’re in the position to take advantage of it. We’ve reinvented ourselves several times over the years, and I’m sure that we’ll do it again a few times – but that’s just part of the fun.”

Thanks for joining us in celebrating our 20th year – Chris Lyon

The California TWIG

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In conjunction with Kilroy Realty Corporation and Landscape architects, Brumbaugh & Associates, Tournesol Siteworks appreciates the opportunity to be a part of another landmark office complex. Skyline Tower is a 24-story building located in Bellevue’s central business district near the transit center and neighboring pedestrian areas.

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Skyline Tower’s amenities include  impressive views of the Seattle skyline, Mt. Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains. It also offers a pedestrian friendly exterior plaza featuring our TWIG benches!

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Brumbaugh & Associates designed the exterior space and used 8 TWIG benches, in the color “Shark,” to provide not only seating, but visual interest to the area as well. TSW worked closely with the General Contractor, GLY,  in regards to production and delivery for an on-time installation for the grand opening of the plaza and its easy access to Bellevue Square.

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The TWIG bench was the first in a line of innovative products introduced by Tournesol Siteworks from the design studios of Street & Garden Furniture of Brisbane, Australia. Long a leading manufacturer down under, Tournesol is proud to have brought their fresh design perspective to the USA, manufacturing their product in California. TWIG is a highly configurable modular seating system which promotes social interaction and a casual lifestyle. We love this item so much it evens graces the cover of our new catalog!

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Having marketed the product since 2011, we’re really now starting to see projects come to life. Recently, there has been some confusion with TWIG, and we want to set the record straight. Tournesol continues to promote, manufacture, and sell the TWIG bench. We make TWIG from lightweight GFRC concrete in Northern California. Each bench weighs only 700lbs, contributing to a low environmental footprint, both in terms of material content and shipping.

Confused about several manufacturers offering TWIG? See more details here.

In case you missed it… March 2014 Email blast – Vol. 2 Issue 4

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It’s been a busy spring at Tournesol Siteworks, as we know it is for many of our customers, vendors and peers.  We’re all thrilled to see the activity of the market. As the weather starts to warm throughout the East Coast and Midwest, contractor’s thoughts turn to their summer schedule – and our phone starts ringing!

We’re adding inventory, scheduling additional shifts, and starting to hire – our typical spring routine. In fact, we’ve just added a new Inside Sales person, Troy Nottingham. He’s supporting our western regions, and is quickly coming up to speed. There’s a lot to learn! Make sure you say welcome if you have to chance to speak with him on the phone. 

Tournesol Hits the Indian Sub-Continent

One of our most important vendors is our Indian manufacturing partner, Jamunaplast. Since 1999, when they started molding several small plastic and rubber articles, we’ve come to rely on them to produce most of our irrigation components, many green wall and roof components , and now started casting blanks of many of our FRP fiberglass pots . They are located in a suburb just outside of Mumbai. After 15 years of making products for the U.S., they proposed that we work together to address the growing commercial landscape market in India.

 

 

 

The market for commercial landscape products in India is intriguing – still relatively small, but rapidly gaining speed. There aren’t many manufacturers that provide commercial-quality products, targeted at the more sophisticated end of the design market. While Tournesol Siteworks India will initially be selling the products that Jamunaplast manufactures for TSW-US, the intention will be to introduce products specifically targeted to the Indian design community’s requirements.

More specifically, there has been significant interest in Tournesol’s self-watering container irrigation systems . The customers in Mumbai and elsewhere appreciate the water conservation aspect of the system. We expect that product to help build a foundation for the company there, as it did for us here in the U.S. Look out for more updates in the future on our progress.

Starbucks Living Wall – Downtown Disney
This past August, the Disney Corporation announced that Starbucks would be opening a store in the  Downtown Disney District .   As this is their first location in the Disneyland Resort, the client wanted something particularly eye-catching at what is sure to be one of the busiest spots “downtown.” It’s right outside the exit of the huge World of Disney store.

Architects Orange  and  LandStudio 360  with David Ling,  conceived of a green wall that would create a visually interesting  backdrop to the outdoor seating area. We at Tournesol Siteworks were thrilled to be a player in this high profile installation as our  VGM system  was the perfect solution. David was kind enough to provide us with the amazing photo below.

 

 

In this case the stainless steel vertical hanging rails were mounted onto horizontal uni-strut framing. This framing, attached to the tube-steel substructure, allows for flexibility when aligning the hanging rail. They used our VGM3-06 wiht a 4″ soil profile, typical for warm-weather climates. The modules were shipped to the job site after 3 months of grow-in at Instant Jungle’s nursery in Santa Ana. They also pre-assemble irrigation emitters and tubing into the module, so they can quickly be attached to the main irrigation system once hung on the rails.

 

 

 

TWIG – Made in California since 2011

The TWIG bench was the first in a line of innovative products introduced by Tournesol Siteworks from the design studios of Street & Garden Furniture of Brisbane, Australia. Long a leading manufacturer down under, Tournesol is proud to have brought their fresh design perspective to the USA, manufacturing their product in California. TWIG is a highly configurable modular seating system which promotes social interaction and a casual lifestyle. We love this item so much it evens graces the cover of our new catalog!

Having marketed the product since 2011, we’re really now starting to see projects come to life. Recently, there has been some confusion with TWIG, and we want to set the record straight. Tournesol continues to promote, manufacture, and sell the TWIG bench. We make TWIG from lightweight GFRC concrete in Northern California. Each bench weighs only 700lbs, contributing to a low environmental footprint, both in terms of material content and shipping.

Confused about several manufacturers offering TWIG? See more details here.

 

 

A refresh for the Towers

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The Pasadena Towers are twin nine-story buildings offering 477,000 square feet of office space. Its Beaux-Artes architecture, copper mansard roofs and hand-painted murals make this an exceptionally unique property located in the heart of Pasadena’s financial district.

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Recently, the property owners asked the property management team, Jones Lang Lasalle, to update this premier facility. JLL contacted Melendrez, a Los Angeles -based landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm, to create the new vision. With the assistance of  Enzo Caserta Landscaping and Tournesol Siteworks, they have done a masterful job creating a very modern work space.  The project is such a showpiece for us we’ve featured much of it in our newest catalog.

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Melendrez used a nice blend of our Wilshire Rectangles in metal-infused aged Bronze and the Downtown Collection in smoke and colonial. The Downtown Collection was a great choice as the combination of conventional tall rounds paired with low bowls allowed for a variety of plants and looks in different spots through the project.

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Further in the instillation, our new Aquarian pots, in a Royalty finish added a unique vertical color splash in selected locations.  All the pots were sealed and water-tight, with our DR pump-out draingage system and the manual fill CWM sub-irrigation. This keeps the area around the pots clean. Our irrigation products contribute to water conservation, labor efficiency and healthier plants. The tall Aquarian planters in conjunction with the elegant straight walls of the Wilshire rectangles make a strong statement.

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Projects as extensive as this don’t always go in without some complications, and this one was no exception. We had several issues, mostly with waterproofing that failed shortly after installation. We appreciate the coordination of Enzo Caserta’s team, and the property manager Jones Lang Lasalle in allowing us to work out the problems. We’re the first ones to admit that not everything goes in as planned – but that we’ll be there to make sure that it’s right by the customer in the end!

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 All in all, we are thrilled to be part of this rejuvenation of a premium office space and a chance to showcase the pots, planters and irrigation that Tournesol Siteworks has been producing for 35 years.

 

Disney, Starbucks and us

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It is always fun to work on a unique one-of-a-kind project, and what better place than in the land “where dreams come true” – Disneyland! This past August, the Disney Corporation proudly announced that Starbucks would be opening a location in the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort.

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The client wanted something unique at their location, which is sure to be one of the busiest spots in the “downtown.” Architects Orange and LandStudio 360 with David Ling, were tasked to bring that unique element to this specific Starbucks store, and Tournesol Siteworks was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to also be a player in this high profile installation.

The designer, David, and grower, Greg from Instant Jungle conceived of a green wall that would create a visually interesting, but, yet, relaxing space to the store. Our VGM system was the perfect solution. At the heart of this living wall product is a recycled plastic planting module attached to stainless steel hanging rods.

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In this case the vertical hanging rails were mounted onto horizontal uni-strut framing. The framing, attached to the tube-steel substructure, allows for flexibility when aligning the hanging rail. Each planting module is available with a generous 4″ soil profile which allows for healthier plants and lower maintenance. The modules are shipped to the job site already grown-in at Instant Jungle’s nursery for approx. 3 months. Instant Jungle also pre-assembles irrigation emitters and tubing into the module, so it can quickly be attached to the main irrigation system once hung on the rails.

IMAG0415The modules and rails can be installed on any type of structurally sound wall, although we’ve been seeing a lot of these types of installations lately.  The modules can easily be removed to change plants or get at the substructure at a later point in time.

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Completed in just a few days, the wall is ready for the grand opening!

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We enjoyed working with Starbucks and Disney, two companies known for providing their guests with an excellent experience, and we are thrilled to be part of the “magical” atmosphere in the Downtown Disney District.

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Partnerships – from our Feb. email blast

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The first few months of 2014 have found us involved in quite a few conferences, workshops, training and sales meetings.  It’s great to be out contributing to these events. Our business, and just as importantly, our industry benefits from these valuable partnerships.

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Our year always starts off in Boston. Regional Sales Representative Brian Mitalo braved the polar vortex to attend New England Grows in collaborations with our local partner BISCO . It’s a great event that always sets the tone for the year. Not only do we get the chance to educate the local landscape community about what’s new, we also get to check the pulse on the New England market – find out who’s doing what! With heavy snow on day one, most contractors were out plowing – but day two turned out great. Boston is excited for our new Boulevard Wood Tiles !

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We were graciously invited again this year to our long-time distribution partner Ewing Irrigationfor their Employee Development Leadership Conference. This year they made it a trade show format, and close to 40 vendors attended this continuing education program for their staff. It was a great opportunity to share our new VGP tray-based living wall system and Root Solutions root barrier product with them. It was quite an event – they made sure each person visted every booth (over 300 people in all).

Just last week we were invited by Valleycrest Landcape Development , one of the largest landscape companies in the world, to present at their Chief Estimator’s Summit. We were in exclusive company – one of just a few companies invited. While we always enjoy sharing our products and experience, this was a great learning experience for us as well. Regional Sales Representative Jon Willingham and Chris Lyon were able to spend time and get the unique perspective that they have to the market.

Speaking of partnerships, we’ve had a great one going over the years with Brigham Young University . For almost 20 years, we have worked with Bruce Maw, the Landscape Architect for the university, on major  projects  and architectural revisions to their magnificent campus in the Utah Valley. With nearly 640 acres under his purview, he has the drive  to create unique spaces throughout the campus, and we are honored to be able  to help him achieve his vision.

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During a recent visit to the campus, we noticed that our Craftsman Collection  were used in their new visitors center. The metal infused, “hand-hammered” copper mimics the intent of arts-and-craft master, Dirk van Erp, on whose work the collection was based. Prior to this installation, our aluminum metal-infused Wilshire planters were used at the expansion of the Marriott School of Management building.

Next up is the new Life Sciences building. Tournesol Siteworks will be providing a number of planters to be used on the rooftop level.  The $950-million dollar project is due to open in the fall of 2014, and will represent a new anchor to southern end of the campus with 265,000 feet of classroom, state-of-the-art lab facilities, auditorium and atrium. We’ve worked with Bruce and his staff for a long time, and we’re always excited when an opportunity like this happens on campus.

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Our 2014 Lookbook & Catalog dropped on Feb 12.  Not to be missed is one of our favorite fresh items  - The Harlie Collection planter. Sticking with our theme of partnerships, this planter comes to us by way of our new collaboration with Australian designer,  Luxxbox . This faceted shape draws on gemology and mathematical principles with a playful edge.

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Altogether, the catalog features over 20 new products and all our product categories – Site Furnishings, Pots & Planters, Deck & Paver Supports, Green Walls & Roofs, Container Irrigation and Root Control & Drainage.  You also find technical information, complete product listings, material finishes and gorgeous installation images. If you missed out on receiving one, please send us an emailcatalog@tournesolsiteworks.com. Alternately, you can download a copy  tournesolsiteworks.com/uploads/cmsfiles/Tournesol_Siteworks_2014.pdf .

In addition, we encourage you to look for our ad placements with media partners, Landscape Architecture  and Architectural Record . Each month we  highlight a unique product, and invite you to “explore your options” with Tournesol Siteworks.

 

Winter travels… Ewing Irrigation, Kornegay Designs, Valleycrest Design Studio

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I’ve already been busy out in the field to start off the winter. Just a few notes from my travels…

It’s encouraging to see companies in our industry that believe in the power of education for their employees. Our partners at Ewing Irrigation are truly committed to making sure their employees (and there are a lot of them) continue their training.
photo 1 We were invited this year (and have had the chance many times over the past few years) to visit their Employee Development and Leadership Conference. This year they made it a trade show format, and close to 40 vendors showed up to educate their staff. It’s held in Phoenix in January, so everyone enjoys the beautiful weather.

I spent the day letting the Ewing Branch Managers and Salespeople about our VGP tray-based living wall system, and our new Boulevard Structural Wood Tile. They had each and every person (over 300, total!) go through with each vendor and find out what was new. Quite a feat, and one that we were pleased to participate in.
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I took the opportunity the next morning to visit with our friends at Kornegay Designs, who are located right near the airport in Phoenix. As most who read this blog will know, they are a manufacturer of an incredible line of precast concrete pots. We find our self-watering container irrigation frequently co-specified with their products.

photo 3 I run into Larry and his wife Paula at many of the ASLA events, and always enjoy trading stories about the business. Sitting down in Larry’s office, the first thing I noticed was his old-school drafting board. He has a fantastic eye for design (as evidenced by their products), and he said he just couldn’t visualize the end result as well on a computer. I’ve heard many designers say the same thing – that the art of visualization is being lost as hand-drawing goes the way of the buggy whip.

photo 5 Just last week we were invited by Valleycrest Landscape Development, one of the largest landscape contractors in the world, to present at their Chief Estimators Summit. The meeting was held at the offices of the Valleycrest Design Group, located in Irvine. They’ve recently moved into this new space (very cool space, given the relative generic office building that they occupy) because they’ve outgrown their former locations. Business is good!!

11 We work with Valleycrest branches across the country – it seems like we always have a project in house for them. They were the first company to install a large, commercial greenwall (at the Atlanta Botanical Garden), installed the Miracle Mile “Art Moderne” GFRC and FRP planters in Los Angeles, and completed the “airside” installation of our pots and container irrigation at the Sacramento Airport Terminal B.

13 I was there with our regional sales representative Jon Willingham, who has a great rapport with his local branches. We were one of only 5 companies (!) invited to discuss their most current products. They wanted us to discuss the options available to them for living walls. It was a great chance to introduce the VGP to them – most were already familiar with the more commercial VGM modular system. We also were able to discuss other products, purchasing options, and projects. It was a terrific opportunity, and one that their estimators and buyers appreciated as well.

photo 7The educational efforts never stop – we participated in 4 other shows over the first 6 weeks of the year, not to mention the 10-15 luncheon presentations we’ve already done for designers this year. Please let us know if you have an opportunity for us to show you the developments at Tournesol Siteworks!

 

 

Together creating Smart Growth

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New Partners for Smart Growth is currently hosting their 13th annual conference in Denver.

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New Partners is all about building safe, healthy and prosperous communities. The origins of the conference trace back to 1995 as the EPA sought to organize a conference that would focus on sensitive growth and development.

We are proud to be working with our partner, James Shaffer, from Streetscapes in Denver. As he says it, he is a “public space fanatic.” James is enthusiastically involved in various types of municipal groups that focus on urban planning and walkable communities, and we are glad to be able to support him and his mission.

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At the conference, Streetscapes arranged for a space to showcase site furnishings and create a space where the public can interact with each other – a parklet of sorts. As part of the installation we have included our Northlakes Collection bench, Zest Planters, Wilshire Collection cube in mandarin, VGP Tray-Based living wall system and a custom bench by our partners at Street & Garden.  In addition, we have included our brand new Wilshire Screen product, Boulevard wood tiles, and a Pebble Stool.

smart growth 3We are also working in conjunction with conference benefactor, PlaceMatters. Place Matters is a Denver based non-profit think tank for civic engagement and inclusive decision making in the planning of vibrant cities and communities.

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Smart growth is being embraced now more than ever as a viable solution to the many challenges in our community. Tournesol Siteworks is enthusiastic to work with many of the New Partner conference attendees who “cross disciplinary lines to share experience, insights, inspirations, and strategies” to create the best that our urban environment can provide. It is our common goal to create safe, economically vibrant and livable communities for all.

 

 

Growing in the snow

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Over 10 inches of snow fell around Boston in the past two days, but things are still growing at the New England Grows Show (www.newenglandgrows.org).

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It’s a great event that addresses landscape construction and maintenance companies. Tournesol Siteworks has been in attendance for the last 5 years in collaboration with our local partner BISCO. We always enjoy our participation as it gives us a chance to catch up on the New England market and activities of local customers.

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This year we have been getting a lot of positive comments on our “deck” made of our new Boulevard Structural Wood Tiles, SpiraPave supports and VersiJack pedestals. The thermally treated FSC-certified hardwoods are also available in benches and tables (the Sydney Bench with Boulevard Wood is shown to the right above).

If you haven’t heard the story: Boulevard wood is made of red oak and ash, harvested and treated in a special high-temperature kiln in northern Minnesota. This natural process changes the chemical make-up of the wood, creating a gorgeous dark lumber that has 25-year durability against rot, pest and decay. The Boulevard lumber is 50% lighter than ipe, and is also available in conventional decking boards.

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Of course, attendees to the show have also been stopping and asking us about our planters and irrigation systems – both cornerstones of Tournesol’s and Bisco’s product line over the years.

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The show runs Wednesday, Feb. 5 thru Friday, Feb 7 in Boston at the Convention Center, home of the 2013 ASLA show. A special thanks to the attendees who made an effort to get here despite the wintery weather, especially since many of them were the ones responsible for helping to clear the snow, salt the streets and make the local cities and towns safe for the rest of us!