WEST WINDSOR – A display featuring the Trenton skyline, created by Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Horticulture, Graphic Design, and Art students, scored a silver medal in the educational category at the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show.
“The feedback on the display has been fantastic,” said Professor Amy Ricco, coordinator of MCCC’s Horticulture/Plant Science Program. “Everyone is enjoying the various aspects of the display, from the water feature to the container plants to the Trenton skyline backdrop.”
Mercer Horticulture students, along with members of the Graphic Design and Art clubs, put in the extra effort to send an important message to city dwellers: just because their urban landscape is mostly paved doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy an environment rich with plants and flowers. That gave rise to this year’s display, “The Power of a Rooftop Oasis.”
Months in the making and based on a design by Horticulture Adjunct Professor David DeFrange, the final details for the MCCC display resulted in an impressive facsimile of a rooftop garden in downtown Trenton, all set in perspective by a massive 23-foot skyline mural created by Graphic Design and Art students, with the “Makes and Takes” bridge as the centerpiece. Other backdrops give the illusion of actually standing on the roof of a downtown building, with a series of posters to educate the Flower Show’s visitors about plants that flourish in pots.
Ricco said the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society specifically asked each educational institution to select a topic that would inform the public.
“We picked container gardening, going in a different direction than in the past when we tended to create large outdoor landscapes,” Ricco said. “Visitors are taking pictures of the container gardening education signage, so we know we have achieved our goal of educating the public.”
The MCCC display includes hundreds of potted flowers – both annuals and perennials – plus trees (evergreen and deciduous), and herb and vegetable plants, all selected because of their ability to thrive in containers.
Partnering with the Graphic Design and Art clubs has yielded great results over the years and 2019 is no exception. Working with faculty members Tina LaPlaca (Graphic Design), Kerri O’Neill (Visual Arts) and Mauro Zamora (Digital Media Arts), students created the brilliantly colored mural that highlights well-known Trenton landmarks.
According to Graphic Design student John Labaw, the images on the mural originated from a series of photos he and fellow student Christie Ciberey shot from the top of Trenton Hall at Mercer’s James Kerney Campus in downtown Trenton, which were then stitched together using Photoshop software. Other students designed a series of educational posters and signs, which include a QR code that leads visitors to the MCCC website.
“Our involvement in the Flower Show continues to be a great opportunity for students,” Ricco said. “It’s a great experience, and an invaluable addition to their resumes and portfolios as they move toward professional careers.”