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CCC&TI’s Landscape Gardening Students Compete at Southern Spring Home and Garden Show

For an 11th year, the Landscape Gardening students from Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute competed head-to-head with some of the largest landscaping companies in the Carolinas at the annual Southern Spring Home and Garden Show at The Park Expo and Conference Center in Charlotte, N.C. Even though the students didn’t receive an award this year for their garden, they accomplished more than Landscape Gardening Director Debbie Mitchell could have ever imagined.

“If there was an award for perseverance they would win it,” Mitchell said. “I’ve never been more proud of a group of students.”

Normally the students have seven days to build their garden at the venue before the project is judged and displayed for the public. Because of the mid-February snowstorm that shut down Charlotte and much of North Carolina, the students only had three days to complete their garden. One of those days included 20 straight hours of working.

“We had to re-engineer the entire space and change everything,” Mitchell said. “It speaks volumes that they even finished it.”

LSG exhibit at Southern Spring Show

The theme for this year’s garden was “A Cottage Re-Imagined.” Each garden was centered on the overall theme for the show this year: “Better Living. Home. Garden. Life.” The CCC&TI students designed and built a garden with the theme of sustainability and repurposed materials. The students created a cottage entrance with rustic looking pathways and colorful gardens using repurposed items, including wooden pallets and sawmill slabs, and edible plants, including lettuce, strawberries, greens and blueberries. Project planning started last June and involved more than 20 students from CCC&TI’s Landscape Gardening Program, as well as Landscape Gardening instructors.

All involved were exhausted as the doors opened to the public the morning of Friday, Feb. 21, but for the students it was a valuable experience. Teamwork and good communication were key to the students completing the project in time.

“It was a lot of hard work,” said Emerald Laws of Lenoir, who plans to graduate this fall from the Landscape Gardening program. “If not for such a great group, we wouldn’t have accomplished so much in a few days.”

LSG exhibit at Southern Spring Show

For Alice Hartley of Lenoir, who will graduate this spring and continue working toward a bachelor’s degree at N.C. A&T, it was a great learning experience.

“It’s cool seeing it come to life,” she said, adding that the students were proud to be representing the only community college in the competition.

The Southern Spring Home and Garden Show, featuring the CCC&TI Landscape Gardening display, is scheduled for Feb. 21-Feb. 23 and Feb. 28-March 3 at The Park Expo and Conference Center, 2500 E. Independence Blvd., Charlotte. The event is open to the public.

For more information on CCC&TI’s Landscape Gardening Program, contact Director Debbie Mitchell at 726-2330.