Together We're Better!

GCA Summer Tour 2016

  • June 26, 2016
  • 4:00 PM (PDT)
  • June 29, 2016
  • 7:00 PM (PDT)
  • Portland, OR
  • 0


  • Your membership saves you $200!
  • For only $99 more, you can become a full GCA member and take advantage of additional savings at IGC Show, EIGC and enjoy other benefits as well! To become a Garden Center Member, select the $1,144 option below, or go to the membership tab first to join.
  • This price includes one GCA Summer Tour registration PLUS a full GCA Garden Center Membership!
  • Vendors must be GCA members to join us on the Suumer Tour. The price above includes $645 for the Summer Tour plus $699 for your GCA membership.

    Thank you for joining GCA and supporting the independent garden center channel!

Registration is closed


****  Our Room Block Is Sold Out    ****
at Embassy Suites, Portland, our host hotel. However, there may still be rooms available at higher rates.
Call 503-279-9000 to Inquire.

Please search
or other similar sites to find great deals.

Portland is very walkable. The blocks are about half of a typical city block, so most everything is a close.


The GCA Summer Tour is headed to Portland, OR, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the garden centers that make this Northwestern market a hub of retail innovation. Portland has been called a treasure trove of merchandising and retail inspiration, so be sure to pack your notebook and camera!

Sunday, June 26

Registration - 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Opening Reception - 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Catch up with old friends and make new ones at the Opening Reception and Welcome. Relax and enjoy some appetizers and cocktails.

Roundtable Discussion - 4:30 pm
We will open discussions and exchange ideas on the topics and challenges attendees expressed when registering. 

Day 1: Monday, June 27

Garden Fever
, Portland, OR
A truly urban garden center located in a scenic Portland neighborhood, the company opened in 2003 on the grounds of a former grocery store. Creative merchandising, respect for the historic nature of the property and product signage with personality all enhance the feeling that you’re shopping for plants and supplies in a one-of-a-kind setting. Serving avid gardeners, Garden Fever is a retailer obviously in touch with its market. Small in size but big on personality, this is a tour stop with numerous surprises.


Room Block Expires
Friday, June 10, 2016

Rates in Portland during the week of our tour can be well north of $300 per night, so be sure to book prior to June 4.

Portland Nursery, Portland, OR
With a rich history in horticulture that goes back 100 years, Portland Nursery prides itself as “A Nursery for Plant People.” Even though the store is located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, there are acres of plants that create “an oasis in the city” for flower and vegetable gardeners along with landscape project enthusiasts. The center has strong ties to the Portland community, working with more than 150 schools and organizations to develop a wide range of garden-related projects.

Al's Garden Center, Gresham, OR
While some stores debate the decision to only open seasonally, this Al's Garden Center location made the move to go from seasonal to year-round. It's a 13,000 sq. ft. greenhouse positioned in the front of 2.5 acres of production greenhouses. The location stocks "Grown By Al's" plants along with garden accessories, plant care products and patio furniture.


Oregon, often referred to as "Nursery Country," is home to many of the growers you already know and some you don't. Since you will already be in Portland, you might choose to arrive a little early or stay a little longer to visit the many growers in the area.

We have put together a listing, complete with contact info and descriptions, of Oregon growers who also exhibit at IGC Show in Chicago and EIGC - The Eastern Show for IGCs, click here to download. You can also visit the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) website to find additional growers you may want to visit.
Sester Farms, Gresham, OR (lunch)
This wholesale nursery located in the Willamette Valley began in the 1890s as a potato and berries farm. With fertile soils and moderate rainfall, the location shifted to nursery production in 1981, focusing on deciduous trees and shrubs along with conifers. Some of the newest product offerings include a 5-gallon cold-hardy shrub program with quantity price breaks designed for garden centers.

Tsugawa Nursery, Woodland, WA
Tsugawa Nursery opened as a retail garden center in March 1981 with a vision for things to come. Since then, it has grown to become the area's place to shop for garden and landscape plants and supplies, specializing in fruit trees, bonsai and Japanese maples, as well as pond plants and supplies. Unique and hard-to-find plant material is sourced by request. Not far from the retail store is a 10-acre greenhouse and nursery operation growing annuals, hanging baskets and nursery stock branded as "Tsugawa Grown" products. Landscape and container design service is available on-site. In the summer, "Tsugawa Grown" fresh-picked berries arrive daily at farm-direct prices.

Shorty's Garden & Home, Vancouver, WA
Voted "Best Garden Center in Clark County" six years in a row by readers of The Columbian, the company places high value on a close working relationship with local communities. One highlight is their annual Oktoberfest, which raises over $20,000 for their local library. Shopping for plants, gifts, bird feeding products and garden accessories sourced by the "Blue Team" takes place in the multiple buildings located on the property. Bulk product delivery along with a tool rental service helps Shorty's capture the area's landscape project business.

Day 2: Tuesday, June 28

Choice, Tigard, OR
Much larger than what it appears from the street, the location consists of different levels, several buildings and plenty of parking. While providing garden center shoppers with staples in all plant categories, the store really shines in their assortment, merchandising and quantity of pottery and containers. In a market filled with high quality garden center shopping options, the company has focused on finding a way to stand out from the crowd by becoming the area's first choice when it comes to pottery and container gardening accessories.

Farmington Gardens, Beaverton, OR
Beginning in 1994 as a roadside stand, the company has grown into a farm-setting environment with expansive display gardens to address what they call a "plants and imagination grow here" experience. Most of the plants they sell are grown on-site, creating a "fresh from the farm" approach and differentiating them from other stores. While the company is known for the extensive plant selection, including a Green Team delivery and planting service, there is a large selection of unique gift and garden accessory products. This is a great example of a large and open plant sales area that still feels intimate and inviting.

Cornell Farm, Portland, OR
Founded in 1921 as a goat dairy farm, the property was converted to agriculture and nursery production in the ‘50s. Then on Mother’s Day 1987, Ed and Deby opened a retail plant stand on the property. Cornell Farm produces all their annuals and perennials for the garden center and recently went through a major redesign of the entire property, including a newly opened cafe operating from a former family home on the property. Even though they're located in a residential area, the family farm-like setting invites shoppers to explore numerous retail areas throughout the site.

International Rose Test Garden, Portland, OR (lunch)
This garden serves as a testing ground for new rose varieties. The City of Portland Gold Medal Awards are issued annually to the best introductions. These award-winning varieties are planted in the Gold Medal Garden.

The International Rose Test Garden is one of 24 official testing sites for the internationally respected All-America Rose Selections (AARS). The garden is also one of only six testing grounds for the American Rose Society (ARS) miniature rose test program. The National Annual Winners from both ARS and AARS associations are displayed in the middle of the garden along the center aisle.

A popular spot of the gardens is the Shakespeare Garden. Dedicated in 1945, this garden, donated by the LaBarre Shakespeare Club, was originally designed to include only herbs, trees and flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. The informal design features graceful trees, brick walls and hundreds of annuals and perennials besides roses. Over the years, this garden has been the site for hundreds of weddings. A favorite spot for picnics, its shady lawn quickly transports visitors to faraway lands.

Good News Gardening, Hood River, OR
While some companies are still considering adding a cafe to their garden center experience, this tour stop is confident that including plant sales with a cafe makes perfect sense. Visit their website and you'll first be invited to come eat at the Garden Cafe, specializing in organic, sustainably-grown menu choices. There are couches, comfy chairs and local artwork to enjoy while overlooking the gardens and extensive plant selection. Locals call it "a cozy little coffee shop located in a great gardening stop."

McMenamins Edgefield, Troutdale, OR

McMenamins has been a neighborhood gathering spot throughout Oregon and Washington since 1983. They handcraft their own beer, wine, cider, spirits and coffee, and offer an eclectic mix of pubs, historic hotels, movie theaters, concert venues, spas, events and just pure fun!

Our tour will take us to their historic Edgefield location for dinner and a night out! Built in 1911 as the county poor farm, it is a destination resort in the Pacific Northwest that blends Oregon's natural beauty with McMenamins' signature whimsy: original buildings carefully restored with cozy interiors, gardens grown using organic methods, great food and drink, live entertainment and more. Edgefield encompasses a 74-acre parcel of farmland at the mouth of the spectacular Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Wander about the extensive gardens (glass of wine or pint of ale in hand), visit the on-site glass-blower and potter, have a look at extensive artwork on walls, pipes and more, watch a recently released movie in the theater, listen to live music or pick up souvenirs in the gift shop.

Day 3: Wednesday, June 29

Bauman's Farm & Garden
, Gervais, OR
What a great way to start our day! A trip to the farm filled with fresh-baked treats along with berries and veggies right from the fields. For over 100 years, the Bauman family has provided fresh food for the table. But over time, the addition of home-grown plants were added to the mix. Now shoppers will find over 10,000 hanging baskets, over 100 varieties of vegetables and herbs along with trees, shrubs and garden accessories merchandised in a way that customers never forget they're shopping right from the family farm. Retail is about creating shopping environments that stay true to the owner's values. It's obvious Bauman's does exactly that.

Al's Garden Center of Woodburn, OR
Even though this store occupies over six acres in the heart of the city's business district, there's an intimate shopping experience created throughout the property. As the original Al's Garden Center location, established in 1948, this garden center has gone through a number of changes with now close to half of the shopping area under cover. With a wide selection of plant material and plant care products, shoppers also find patio furniture, home decor and women's apparel. This stop is a great lesson in how a garden center evolves with market changes.

Monrovia, Dayton, OR (lunch)
Monrovia, one of the largest producers of ornamental plants in the West, is popular among both IGCs and consumers alike. Monrovia's large scale demonstration garden meanders through 6 acres of arboretum-like grounds that wrap around a large pond and waterfall. While visiting, Monrovia will share details on their POP and online shipping programs, as well as results from their multi-phase consumer research.

The Garden Corner, Tualatin, OR
Owner Jonn Karsseboom says the garden center is located at the corner of “Desperation and Ingenuity.” Opened in 2000 literally in the backyard of the owner's home, the site creates a shopping environment reminiscent of strolling through a park in search of that perfect plant. Exploring the unique nature of the woodland setting is done along what the company calls their “IKEA path.” As the provider for their community’s hanging basket program, the store believed that being "the hanging basket passion place" meant creating the world's largest hanging basket - so they did. Small on space, big on character. Make sure your camera is fully charged.

Al's Garden Center of Sherwood, OR
Selected as the "2005 Garden Center of the Year" the first year it opened, this center has quickly become one of the finest in the country. The 10-acre site houses a retractable roof greenhouse the size of a football field! Shoppers find the full gamut of garden center home-grown plants and products along with patio furniture, indoor and outdoor decor and women's apparel. But this stop is at its most valuable, witnessing the evolution of a company. We've seen two earlier versions of what it means to be an Al's Garden Center. Now we get to experience first-hand how a garden center owner takes what he's learned over many years to create a retail environment built for today's shopper. It's a journey filled with lessons garden centers can use in every stage of their own development.
Cancellation Policy:  Cancellations received prior to June 1 are refundable at 50%.  Cancellations received June 1 and after are non-refundable.


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