Black Hills students go Hollywood

Horticulture class readies display – complete with palm tree – for flower and garden show

lpemberton@theolympian.comFebruary 18, 2013 

There were boards to cut, backdrops to paint, and plenty of plants and trees that still needed to be purchased. But Black Hills High School advanced horticulture students felt confident last week that their 10-by-10-foot display garden would be ready for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, which opens Wednesday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

“I think it will be pretty good,” said senior Alexis Guy, 17. “I’m hoping we will win.”

The 900-student Tumwater school has brought home numerous first-place ribbons and other awards from the show during the past decade, said horticulture teacher Roger Bessey. It’s usually the only Thurston County school to participate in the show’s high school competition.

Black Hills students designed their display around this year’s show’s Hollywood theme. It includes an old movie projector, some lights, a set of director chairs, and a gazebo that was built in the style of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

“We’re going to have a red carpet,” said Bessey.

In addition to movie props, the display garden also was set to feature nursery-bought roses, daffodils, kalanchoe and a palm tree.

“It’s Hollywood, you’ve got to have a palm tree,” Bessey said with a laugh.

The garden’s budget was roughly $1,000, he said. Most of the money was raised by the horticulture program’s plant sales, he said.

Some of the garden’s items, including the projector, were loaned to the school for the project; others were picked up at thrift stores.

A lot of the materials were reused from previous projects as well, said Black Hills education assistant Rena Nichols.

In addition to participating in the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, advanced horticulture students also work in the school’s organic garden, which raises food for South Sound food banks and the school’s kitchen.

This spring, students also will design and install landscaping in the school’s courtyard, Nichols said.

“They do a lot of hands-on planning and drawing out landscaping ideas,” she said. “They’re learning a lot about scale.”

Advanced horticulture is a one-year class and is part of Black Hills’ Career and Technical Education program. Students can receive science credit for the class, and the goal is to give kids some skills so they can get a job in the landscaping industry right out of high school, if they want to, Bessey said.

Several students said they enjoy the class because they can spend time outside, work with their hands and participate in the flower show.

“It’s actually kind of fun,” said junior Markus Aviles-Vidales, 17. “If you’re working, it goes by really fast.”

See the garden

What: The Northwest Flower & Garden Show, featuring display gardens, classes, vendors and entertainment.

When: 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle.

Tickets at the door: $20 for adults; $5 for ages 13-17; free for 12 and younger.

Information: or 253-756-2121.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 @Lisa_Pemberton

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