If you see a green and yellow sign outside your local garden centre, you know that you are visiting one of the best garden centres in the country. That little sign tells you that the garden centre is a part of the Garden Centre Association (GCA), and is a standard of excellence.
The GCA is part of the South African Nursery Association (SANA). Where SANA has a broader scope and plays a bigger role in South Africa’s gardening industry, the GCA is aimed at maintaining the quality of the garden centre customer experience.
To spread the word and the knowledge of both the GCA and SANA, Life is a Garden (LIAG) was established. While it is essentially a marketing division, its scope has grown organically until the website has become a one-stop guide to gardening in South Africa, where readers can find their closest GCA-approved garden centre, gain knowledge on plants and gardening, as well as discover fun projects for the garden and learn how to garden responsibly.
The monthly newsletter has become eagerly anticipated by gardeners around the country, full as it is with helpful tips and hints, news on new releases and ideas on how to get the best out of your garden, no matter the season.
The key objectives of the GCA are to ensure that each and every member garden centre constantly strives to improve nursery standards and is guided in this goal by the National Association.
While the business of a nursery is selling plants, the yellow and green sign is more than just a commitment to selling healthy, good-quality stock. It is also a promise to look after the environment, both in terms of not selling alien invasive plants, and in terms of environmentally friendly initiatives such as recycling projects. It is also a pledge to impart knowledge to staff members and the gardening public, because a knowledgeable gardener is a successful gardener, and successful gardeners will keep on gardening. The GCA’s job doesn’t end after handing out its respected green and yellow sign, though. To hold onto that sign and everything it stands for, all GCA centres need to achieve certain levels and prove this when they are regularly evaluated. This ensures that the GCA signs outside the garden centre door are accurate, up-to-date, relevant and continue to stand for excellence in the industry.
As part an international gardening community, the GCA is also an active member of the International Garden Centre Association, which allows South Africa’s nursery industry to learn from the best in the business, and to share our own expertise with the rest of the world.
This international gardening community meets annually for a week-long congress held in a different host country every year. Here business is discussed and contacts made, but more importantly, garden centres are visited so that each member country is aware of best practices and the high standards that are achieved globally. By sharing knowledge, standards are improved in every member country.
The result of all of this is that garden centres of the GCA are amongst the best in the world, continually improving and offering world-class service to every member of the public who walks through their doors.