MCCC’s Horticulture and Design Students Team Up to Create ‘Urban Oasis’ for Philadelphia Flower Show


West Windsor, N.J. – The Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Horticulture Program wants city dwellers to know that just because their urban landscape is mostly paved doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy an environment rich with plants and flowers.

MCCC Horticulture students, along with students in the Graphic Design and Art clubs, are leading the way to a greener city life with their display “The Power of a Rooftop Oasis,” to be presented at the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show. The show, whose theme is "Flower Power," comes to the Pennsylvania Convention Center March 2 to 10.

Months in the making, the final details for the display have resulted in an intensive flurry of activity as Horticulture staff and students work to ensure that flowering plants are flowering and that no insects are nestled among the foliage. Graphic Design and Art students are putting the finishing touches on a massive 23-foot skyline mural of Trenton, as well as a series of posters to educate the Flower Show’s visitors about plants that flourish in pots.

According to Professor Amy Ricco, coordinator of the Horticulture/Plant Science Program, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society 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 noted. “It was nice to take another approach to our display.”

The MCCC display will include hundreds of potted flowers, both annuals and perennials, plus trees (evergreen and deciduous), and herb and vegetable plants – all of which have been selected because of their ability to thrive in containers.

Partnering with the Graphic Design and Art clubs has yielded great results in the past and this year is no exception. Working with faculty members Tina LaPlaca (Graphic Design), Kerri O’Neill (Visual Arts) and Mauro Zamora (Digital Media Arts), students have created a colorful 23-foot mural that will not only be eye-catching, but will emblazon the display with the Trenton skyline, including the renowned “Trenton Makes” bridge and Capitol building, plus multiple other city buildings.

According to 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 and then photoshopped together. Other students have designed a series of educational posters and signs, which include a QR code that leads visitors to the MCCC website.

Among the Horticulture students who have volunteered many hours are Ben Burns, Jerry Albrecht, Ashley Fehn and Josh Hubbard. Participating Graphic Design students include Labaw and Ciberey, plus Natalie Kinnamon, Elijah Clark, Jackie Gummel, Sammy Jolly, Delmi Pazos, Aidan James, and James MacDuff, creator of MCCC’s logo for the Flower Show and the display’s stepping stones. Art students who added their talents are Nevin Schleider and Christina Young, and adjunct professor Emily Buchalski.

Students and faculty begin the arduous task of moving the display to the Convention Center on Feb. 25 with set-up to finish by March 1. And then it’s time to welcome visitors to a rooftop oasis – Mercer-style.

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Among the Horticulture students who contributed to the display are Ben Burns, Jerry Albrecht, and Ashley Fehn, pictured in the MCCC Greenhouse with Professor Amy Ricco, second from right.

Graphic Design students John Labaw and Natalie Kinnamon finalized their work on the mural and posters.

Elijah Clark spray paints the finishing touchs on an urban mural.

The display's logo was designed by James McDuff.