PHILADELPHIA – Mercer County Community College (MCCC) continued its winning ways at the Philadelphia Flower Show (PFS) earlier this month, taking home a Gold Medal for its Mediterranean-themed display.

Created by MCCC Horticulture, Graphic Design and Visual Arts students, the display, titled “Verdant Veranda,” is the college’s sixth top-three medal award at the PFS in the last seven years. According to Professor Amy Ricco, coordinator of MCCC’s Horticulture, Science and Sustainability program, the display was inspired by “the importance of the floriculture industry.”

Following the PFS theme “Riviera Holiday,” Mercer’s design was decorated with cut florals and containers that accentuated the “small space gardening” emblematic of a Mediterranean veranda setting.

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The motif was a noted shift from 2019s theme of “Flower Power.” Last year, Mercer’s faculty and students designed an exhibit around the Trenton skyline, highlighting the possibilities for floral design in urban landscapes.

Ahead of this year’s show, Mercer’s faculty and students started planning for the project in the summer of 2019.

“We started by doing research on the French Riviera, and decided to use agriculture as our inspiration,” Ricco said. “This led to us incorporating farm-to-table and floriculture production in our display.”

Ricco said that MCCC’s participation in the show is an enormous group undertaking. In addition to coordinating with Horticulture adjunct professors David DeFrange and Deborah Moyer, she enlisted the help of volunteers.

“David worked with students in Ornamental Horticulture 292 on the forcing of plant material, while Deborah worked with both credit and non-credit floral design students on the displays,” Ricco said. Ricco noted that she had about 20 student volunteers to assist with set up, the show, and take down.

“We have to transport our entire display down to Philadelphia in four days,” Ricco added. 

MCCC faculty outside of the Horticulture program were also key in producing Mercer’s appearance at the show. Advertising and Graphic Design Professor Tina LaPlaca, Ceramics and Sculpture Professor Michael Welliver, Digital Media Arts Professor Mauro Zamora, and Visual Arts Teaching Assistant Kerri O’Neill all had a hand in creating Mercer’s veranda.

“Horticulture student Ben Burns worked on the design and build process under the guidance of myself and David,” Ricco said. “The graphic design club devised our posters and seed packets.  The art club painted our building. It takes a lot of teamwork.”

The Philadelphia Flower Show is organized by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society. Beginning in 1892, the event, held in the Philadelphia Convention Center, showcases decorative, “diverse and sustainable plant and garden concepts.”