GARDENS AS EDUCATORS:
FROM PRESCHOOL TO GRAD SCHOOL
School of Horticulture& Landscape Design
Taking time to stop and smell the flowers, a dozen students followed their noses to “Flower Identification from A to Z,” a basic Floral Design class at the New York Botanical Garden’s School of Horticulture and Landscape Design. Florists, garden-variety would-be florists, a housewife, and the perennial teachers sat at lab tables listening to instructor Ken Norman discuss color, fragrance and botanical names.
“People relate to color more than to flowers,” he said, pulling a very dark red rose from a vase. “You can see this black magic rose, the black baccara rose, is very dramatic. You pair it with a bright color,” he says, picking out a pink flower, “and see how pretty that is. You can sell a party by talking about the color scheme you want to use. Certain colors are better different times of year. The milva rose and the mango calla lily are really pretty copper colors; they look especially pretty in autumn. The Amaryllis is nice in November. In January, we like the Dianthus. Dianthus is a very underrated flower. It has great fragrance; it’s one of the few flowers that have great fragrance.”
Mr. Norman AIFD (American Institute of Floral Designers) and FTD (Florists’ Transworld Delivery) Master Designer, handed out books “Flowers from Holland, Naturally,” published for the Flower Council of Holland. “Here’s a popular winter flower called the paper white. You’re not going to find it under paper white,” said Mr. Norman “you’ll find it under narcissus.”
While it’s charming to say it with flowers with names like confetti rose, abracadabra, hocus pocus, moon shadow and moon shade, “we have to know their botanical names, not just the lazy American names.” Mr. Norman points out that wholesalers reference Zantedeschia, not mango Calla Lilies. He adds wryly, there’s the added benefit of telling difficult customers, who say things like “I don’t like Calla Lilies” that you have lovely Zantedeschia.
Mr. Norman goes to Holland every autumn for the Horti Fair. “Vendors from around the world show their best product; so there are a lot of bouquets getting wrapped on conveyor belts, little shears to prune topiaries - it looked like Edward Scissorhands! We re-designed one of our shops with inspiration from this fair.”
The word “Holland” leads down the garden path to tulips, and Mr. Norman advised “It’s best to get bulb plants earlier in the week and cut them so they’re open for a weekend event. But if the flowers are not coming in until Friday, “cut them; put them in some really warm water, in a warm office. The warm temperature will help advance them to bloom faster.” Answering a question, he opined “All flowers perform better in water than in floral foam.”
“Easter plants, hyacinths and tulips, don’t last that long, they’re a thing of beauty for a moment. Anything that doesn’t sell, we’ll let die back. There are all those nutrients in the bulb. I stick them in the ground, let them winter over a couple of months, bring them in and force them, and see what happens. I grow my own unique varieties of bulb flowers.”
He makes his point that “It takes a year to learn flowers because they change by season. To learn the different varieties of roses [thousands] is a challenge in itself.”
Other areas of study are Botanical Art and Illustration, Garden Writing and Photography, Botanical Crafts, Botany, Gardening, Horticulture, Landscape Design and Horticultural Therapy. There is a Certificate track; there are satellite classrooms in Connecticut, Westchester, Manhattan and New Jersey. Visit www.nybg.org/edu for the full information bouquet.#