US (PA): Mercer County Community College's horticulture students will blossom during the 2023 Philadelphia Flower Show

With seven medals over eight years at the Philadelphia Flower Show, Mercer County Community College (MCCC) horticulture program students have the momentum to keep that winning streak going at the upcoming show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The oldest and largest indoor flower show in the world, the Philadelphia Flower Show is an iconic annual event that boasts fabulous large-scale gardens and beautiful landscape displays. Attracting over 250,000 people annually, the show is a mesmerizing floral experience that features stunning creations by the world's premier floral and landscape designers.

In addition to acres of gardens, the show hosts esteemed competitions in horticulture and artistic floral arranging, gardening presentations, and demonstrations over an eight-day period. 

"MCCC horticulture students begin preparing for the spring show during the fall semester, and it is an amazing learning experience," said Horticulture and Plant Science Professor Amy Ricco. "It is literally the pinnacle of the year," she said.

Mercer County Community College has been participating in the Philadelphia Flower Show for over nine years. The event helps students put their horticultural planning, forcing, planting, building, and organizational skills to use against a tight deadline. 

"The experience is similar to working for a very tough client," Ricco explained.

Last year's group took home a number of awards, including a silver medal, the Chicago Horticultural Society Flower Show medal, and an Herb Society of America Award for its display 'Releaf.' In 2020, students won a gold medal and an Herb Society of America Award for their Mediterranean display 'Verdant Veranda.' Leading up to 2020, MCCC's medal count was one bronze, three silvers, and one gold.

"These awards are the feathers in the caps of our graduates who go on to transfer or work in the industry," said Ricco. "Preparing for the show and making it all come together is an important resume-building experience that employers look for," she said.

Several short months ago, it looked as though the quality of MCCC's display would be compromised due to a technical snafu.

The show, which has traditionally been held indoors at the Philadelphia Center in March, moved to the city's Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Park during the pandemic. The change from indoors to outdoors required a much warmer clime, so the flower show was moved to June.

"This year, the show is indoors and in March," said Ricco. "We were all jubilant until I realized we had already used a portion of this year's budget to pay the expenses for last June's outdoor show; we were scrambling for funds," she said.

Funds flowed in from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society and Mercer County Community College.

"Then the MCCC Foundation stepped in and granted us $10,000, which we desperately needed," said Ricco. "The students and I are so very grateful to all the Foundation donors, Mercer County Community College, and the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society who all together made it possible for us to compete." 

This year's Philadelphia Flower Show theme is 'The Garden Electric,' and will showcase over 30 displays. And MCCC will be competing once again for medals in the 'Education' category with the theme 'Majestical,' focusing on the color purple.

"It is tough to center on just one color, but we are working hard to make it happen," said Ricco. "I am just so thrilled that now we can focus on getting our work done and creating an amazing display rather than worrying about funding. It's going to be a wonderful show."

For more information:
PHS Philadelphia Flower Show

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