The University of Connecticut Horticulture Club won three awards for their self-designed landscape for the first time at the 2019 Connecticut Flower Show by having a unique and wide diversity of plants, vice president of the Horticulture Club Madison Blake said.
The Horticulture Club won Best Educational Display, Best Use of Unusual Plant Material and Greatest Diversity of Plant Material, in addition to the Appreciation for Exhibiting award that all participants are awarded, for their landscape. A landscape is a plot where groups can freely design with plants, patio furniture and ponds.
“I honestly was pretty surprised to have won three awards [because] we had never put together a landscape like this before or even had any experience forcing plants to bloom [or] grow out of season,” Blake said. “We were surrounded by professional landscapers with staffs devoted to producing the plant material, designing the landscape and putting it all together and we were just a small group of kids.”
The Connecticut Flower Show is an annual event at the Hartford Convention Center where nurseries, landscapers and garden centers from the Northeast sell their items or compete.
This is the first time in three years that the Horticulture Club has competed in the flower show, so there was a big learning curve to make their landscape, Blake said.
The landscape was 800 square feet, one of the larger plots in the show. The design was simple, as the club wanted to focus on their plant material. They had a wide variety of plants including forsythia, hostas, crocus and blue globe spruce.
It took four days to build and install the landscape, including setting a gravel path and a bird bath.
“During this time, we transported and planted over 450 individual plants into the landscape as well as all the solid decoration materials. [The] Wednesday before the show was spent laying sod, watering plants in and labeling the material for judging,” Blake said. “The installation process went rather smoothly, in large part due to all of the planning that had been done beforehand that allowed us to just screw the frame into place and start laying materials.”
According to Blake, the hardest part was transporting the delicate plants to Hartford and setting up the material in the convention center by Tuesday Feb. 19.
“The most difficult part was fitting delicate blooming plant material into the UConn cargo van and then driving that van into the center, squeezing between box trucks and dump trucks filled with rock and plant material,” Blake said. “Being one of the smallest groups with the least equipment was definitely nerve racking, but ultimately we were able to put together a beautiful and realistic landscape display.”
The Horticulture Club’s previous record was two awards, Best Trained Specimen and Best Educational back in 2015, Justin Ferreira, Horticulture Club President said.
In addition to the landscape, the Horticulture Club sold Scent Foliage plants and succulents at the show, which allowed the members to interact with the plant community, Ferreira said. They will be selling the same plants in the Student Union from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, March 8.
“The UConn name carried weight at this event, everyone knew exactly where we were from and what we do for the state of Connecticut,” Ferreira said. “Some people came asking about the Plant Science program considering attending or sending their kids for a tour. Several attendees even donated money to the Horticulture Club just because we were there representing two things that they love, UConn and plants.”
Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.