Creativity is key when it comes to building award-winning displays at Bullington Gardens – whether that’s skinning a log to make a bucket, or using reclaimed pallet wood to stay under budget.
On Thursday, Henderson County Public Schools sophomores in the Bullington Onsite Occupational Student Training (BOOST) Program revealed the themed gardens they’d been researching, designing, and building for the past semester.
North Henderson High’s team won with their garden themed after the “Great Wall of China.” Students placed cinder blocks in the bottom of the garden bed to create a raised bridge, then used rocks from a nearby creek to decorate the bridge. Bullington Gardens Director John Murphy said the team created a bamboo backdrop for the bridge, upon which they planted bright red, orange, and yellow plants – and a special addition.
“The surprising thing was, they grew this eucalyptus from seed,” Murphy said. “Which was really impressive.”
Hendersonville High’s team also built with bamboo for their garden, “Asian Flair,” which featured red amaranth, celosia, zinnia, and dark coleus plants and a white sand river running its length (photo above).
Through the BOOST and Horticultural Therapy programs at the gardens, high school students in Occupational Course of Study classes hone skills to supplement their technical education classes, while learning task management, teamwork, and budgeting.
Beginning with a research and development phase, students from all four traditional high schools have visited Bullington weekly since January to prep their gardens with Murphy.
He said, “These kids are mostly visual learners, so we analyze pictures of gardens,” focusing on the textures, colors, and varying heights of plants, to determine individual themes. Murphy said once the teams decide on their themes, they flip through seed catalogs to find plants to match.
“They grow everything in the greenhouse,” Murphy said. “And as soon as we get some warm weather, we’re hustling to get it all together.”
Murphy added that as part of the planning, development, and design processes, students have to keep their projects within a small budget of $45 – which promotes creative thinking.
For their “English Garden” theme, Murphy said West Henderson High students “spent a lot of time pulling boards off of pallets so they could make a fence and a gate.” And, they made a bucket for a plant out of skinning a poplar log.
Similarly, the team from East Henderson used reclaimed pallet wood to create an elevated garden bed for their “High Road and Low Road”-themed garden – which featured bright zinnias transitioning down into lower bed of sand and dark plants.
The winning team from North took home a plaque and a gift card to Chick-Fil-A, and Murphy hopes all the students in the program cultivated a positive work ethic and appreciation for horticulture.