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Hortus Forum scores big at the Philly Flower Show

Plant Sciences majors Samuel Sterinbach and Alexander Liu and International Agriculture & Rural Development Major Veronika Vogel brought home a blue ribbon for their Haworthia cooperi and earned 37 other ribbons.

Plant Sciences Majors Samuel Sterinbach and Alexander Liu and International Agriculture & Rural Development Major Veronika Vogel brought home a blue ribbon for their Haworthia cooperi and earned 37 other ribbons.

The prize-winning Haworthia cooperi.

The prize-winning Haworthia cooperi.

Some might call it beginner’s luck. But it really has more to do with the top-notch growing skills of the talented horticulturists in Hortus Forum, Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club.

The club entered 44 plants in various categories at the Philadelphia Flower Show. And they brought home 38 ribbons, including a blue ribbon for their Haworthia cooperi.

“That’s almost unheard of first time out.  I’m very proud of them,” says Mark Bridgen, director of the Long Island Horticulture Research and Extension Center, who helped organize the club’s trip to the show as well as a tour of nearby Longwood Gardens.

“Most people don’t understand how much work it is to grow and enter that many plants,” he adds.  Their entries garnered a lot of good will for Cornell.”

Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event. Attendance at the week-long extravaganza tops 250,000 people.

“We’re still ecstatic and overwhelmed with joy and gratitude,” says Veronika Vogel ‘21 who along with fellow club members Alexander Liu ’20 and Samuel Sterinbach ’20 organized the  effort. “We were told that it often takes people many years of entering before they win a blue ribbon, and we did it in the first year we participated!”

Club members carefully packed their 43 entries into a minivan to transport them from Ithaca to Philadelphia.

Club members carefully packed their 43 entries into a minivan to transport them from Ithaca to Philadelphia.

Vogel also emphasizes the team effort, crediting Hortus Forum members past and present who contributed to the health and beauty of the plants they exhibited. “Many of the plants we entered (including the prize-winning Haworthia) are years old and have had generations of club members contribute to their care,” she says.

Vogel also adds that their effort also put them on the map with other horticulturists at the show. “Many people were super excited to have us exhibit and we got lots of very positive feedback,” says Vogel, who along with Liu and Sterinbach pulled off several late night shifts to select, enter, groom, pack and transport the plants.

“The students really are to be commended,” says Bridgen.  “I can’t wait to see how they do next year.”

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