Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 1
   February 2011
   Training to Be a Horticulturalist

Traditionally, students of the Horticulture Technician program at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario (American zone 4 / Canadian zone 5a), have organized a spectacular spring flower display. The school's greenhouse bursts with color, displaying the students' abilities to successfully cultivate a large assortment of plants.

Flower display
A display at the 2010 Algonquin College spring flower show, organized and presented by the school's horticulture technician students.

Second-year horticulture students begin planning for the show at the start of the school year in September and spend the rest of the year planting seeds, forcing bulbs and carefully timing the blooms to coincide with the event. When all the planning and hard work come together in March, the greenhouse opens to the public, playing host to about a thousand visitors during the two-week-long show.

The event exemplifies the program's main objective: hands-on learning. While some post-secondary horticulture-related programs focus on theory, this school's students get their hands dirty working with plants.

The program also has a strong landscape-design component. Students work on the school's grounds for months, learning how to create an aesthetically pleasing garden. They're required to improve and expand the school's landscape features, which provide invaluable practical training in tasks such as laying interlocking stone, building arbors, constructing a concrete waterfall and digging and creating ponds.

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