Learning at Tonkadale

Posted by Megan Nichols on Feb 2nd 2018

It’s often said that the best teachers are those who also love to learn. Tonkadale staff love to learn about gardening, and they also love to help customers find the solutions to their gardening problems, the answers to their questions, and the materials to make their gardening dreams come true. To do this, we engage in ongoing education about all things gardening and plants. It may be an understatement to say these are BIG categories, so there is always something to learn (that’s also what makes it fun, try as we might we can never know it all so we just keep learning)! We thought it would be fun to share with you, our wonderful customers, what we do throughout the year to learn more about our passion and yours!

Employee Education

About a year ago we implemented a new program at the greenhouse simply called Employee Education. Every week a Tonkadale staff member or two present a garden center related topic to the rest of the staff. Topics range from lawn care to fiddle leaf figs, cold weather annuals to frost tolerant perennials, how to fertilize houseplants to how to fertilize hydrangeas, seed starting to transplanting, and everything in between. All staff can choose to present if they wish, and since we know that teaching is a great way to learn something, this has helped create some pretty serious experts in a variety of areas.

Conferences and Seminars

We love the opportunity to get together outside the greenhouse and learn from experts in the green industry. In MN in January, there is a conference called Northern Green. It runs for three days and has oodles of seminars on a wide range of topics. Another conference (this one is a biggy), called Cultivate, is held in Ohio each year in July. It’s huge! There are 8 acres of vendors (don’t worry, it’s inside!) and more seminars than you can shake a stick at. At Cultivate it’s easy for those of us in the green industry to get a little starry eyed (I mean, have you ever heard Claudia West talk about the science of plant communities, or Brie Arther expound her love of edibles? This is good stuff and we can’t get enough)! Then we come back to MN and bring it all to you!

Trainings and Institutes

Several trainings take place throughout the year and are given by experts in the industry. One of our favorites is by Bonide. We get to learn about the latest research and newest products that offer solution to our customer’s (and our own) garden problems.


Like many industries, if you spend enough time working in the green industry it becomes smaller and smaller. Essentially, you get to know many of your fellow green industry peeps through conferences and seminars and other events (like garden and garden center tours) that everyone attends together. Luckily, this means we get an opportunity to ask each other questions, many of which are relevant to how we help our customers (sorry all, everyone is still shaking their heads over Japanese beetles, but I promise you we’re all trying hard to find the best control option)! For many a gardener, winter is a time to dream about the next gardening season, and the same is true for us. We dream and plan, and we also prepare and learn and are enthusiastic to share it all with you!