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MCCC Horticulture Students Go Buggy with Sculptor Carl Hagerty for Philly Flower Show Exhibit


West Windsor, N.J. -- The greenhouse at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) has some oversized occupants that will be heading to Philadelphia next week.  Since November, Horticulture students have been working with sculptor Carl Hagerty to create seven giant insect topiaries – and a family of beetles – for the college’s exhibit at the Philadelphia Flower Show, which runs from March 1 to 9 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

According to Amy Ricco, coordinator of the MCCC Ornamental Horticulture and Plant Science programs, the creations include a 6-foot praying mantis, a 13-foot spider, an enormous caterpillar, grasshopper and hornet, and a brown marmorated stink bug gorging on a peach.

The project is the brainchild of Hagerty, who has a long history of making sculptural objects for the flower show, and his friend Chris McCarron, landscape manager at Sesame Place in Middletown and an alumnus of the MCCC Ornamental Horticulture program.

When they brought the idea to Ricco, she was intrigued. “The college has not participated in the flower show since the 1970s.  This seemed like a great project with real educational value.” 

According to Ricco, this isn’t the first time the Horticulture Program has worked with topiaries designed by Hagerty and Sesame Place.  Students have been learning how to assemble and maintain topiary characters for Sesame Place for years.

Ricco notes that the bugs also serve an informational purpose. “We want people to learn about these creatures and their role in the natural world,” she says, adding that the insects are being made to look as realistic as possible.

The 24’ x 24’ exhibit will be located in the center of the main hall among exhibits by other colleges.  Ricco anticipates that the MCCC display will draw plenty of visitors.  “It’s a high-traffic area and these creatures will be hard to miss,” she said.

The project has drawn in a dozen student volunteers, as well as faculty, alumni and staff.   MCCC students and Horticulture Program will staff the display on a rotating basis throughout the flower show.

Learn more about the Philadelphia Flower Show at www.theflowershow.com.

Are you my mother? A live stink bug has taken up residence near the model.


Ornamental Horticulture and Plant Science

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From left, student Diane Shonyo, Program Coordinator Amy Ricco and student Mike Gerheiser work on the praying mantis topiary.
Gerheiser and Ricco put the finishing touches on a caterpillar.

This hornet means buzzness!

Professor Ricco with a stink bug made of tree bark.

A giant-size grasshopper is part of the exhibit.