Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Three Questions with Three Summer Intensives Students

Posted in Adult Education on May 26 2016, by Jenifer Willis

Wendy Ford in the Landscape Design Summer Intensive in 2015

The New York Botanical Garden puts the “intense” in “Intensive” this summer with accelerated educational programs that get students on their way to achieving career goals, learning new skills, and earning prestigious Certificates in Landscape Design, Floral Design, or Gardening. Three students who completed last year’s programs and are set to graduate this month sat down to talk to us about their experiences and how the Intensives made an impact on their lives.


Julie Bogdanowicz
Julie Bogdanowicz

Floral Design Beginner Takes the Plunge
Julie Bogdanowicz, Floral Design Intensive Student, Graduating in June 2016

NYBG: Julie, what were you doing before you decided to pursue Floral Design at NYBG?
Julie: I was an administrative assistant and customer service representative for 20 years in a marketing department. I also worked at Stone Barns for Food and Agriculture for three years at their information kiosk and in their retail and farmers market area. Occasionally, I would take flowers, herbs, rocks, and branches, and make earthy, artsy designs, and get compliments from visitors and customers. I thought I should give Floral Design a go.

NYBG: What was the Intensive experience like for you?
Julie: It was very exciting to be part of this group of diverse students and instructors. Everyone was supportive and respectful of each other. Each instructor brought a completely different eye to the design work, and together they brought out the beauty in each of us. As instructor Tom Cawley said, “We don’t sell flowers—we sell design.” I know it was a life-changing experience for me.

NYBG: What are you doing now, after the Intensive?
Julie: I’m starting my own business and am exploring silk flower arranging, which will give me more flexibility. I’d like to work on arrangements to sell to hotels and homeowners, and possibly teach floral design as art therapy for the aging.

[Note: NYBG also offers expedited Intensive classes in Horticultural Therapy over the summer.]

An Eye for Design Branches Out

Wendy Ford, Landscape Design Summer Intensive Student, Graduating in June 2016

NYBG: What were you doing before you decided to do the Landscape Design Summer Intensive?
Wendy: I spent 30 years in a career in the fashion business. Then, I decided to go back to school and study a subject I have always loved in hope of turning it into a new career. I was looking to fast-track my studies, and I hoped that by the end of the summer, I would begin to be proficient in many skills needed to create successful designs. I know my graphic skills are pretty good, thanks to instructor Bill Einhorn.

NYBG: Tell me about your Intensive experience.
Wendy: It was a long summer, but I am so happy I did it. Expect to work hard. There is daily homework, and the instructors expect the students to engage and give their all. The instructors were amazing, patient, knowledgeable, and supportive. They challenge you to go further out of your comfort zone.

NYBG: What are you doing now, Wendy?
Wendy: I have a client I have just started working with, so I am excited to get that moving along. He struggled for months with zoning to get a new building approved. So, I used my graphic skills from the Intensive to create a drawing to show what everything would look like when finished. He took it to the zoning meeting and said as soon as they looked at the drawing, they immediately approved it!


Denise Cogliandro
Denise Cogliandro

A Professional Florist Goes in a New Direction
Denise Cogliandro, Floral Design Summer Intensive Student, Graduating in June 2016

NYBG: Denise, what were you doing before you completed the Floral Design Intensive?
Denise: I’ve been working as a florist for almost ten years. Ultimately, I wanted to become a designer, but the opportunity at my job never presented itself. I had taken several floral design classes at NYBG about ten years ago, but never completed the program. I finally decided to enroll in the Intensive to complete the program once and for all. And I’ll admit that part of me wanted the status of having a Certificate from NYBG!

NYBG: How did the Intensive shape your view of a career in floral design?
Denise: It helped me to realize that I wanted to focus on event work, more so than work in a more traditional flower shop.

NYBG: What advice do you have for students considering the Floral Design Summer Intensive?
Denise: It is “intense,” for lack of a better word! Your life will be all flowers for five weeks. Be ready to jump in because there’s no easing into it; you make your first arrangement on the first day. I think it’s like most things—the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.

Adults interested in the Summer Intensives Programs can learn more and register online or by calling our Registration Office at 718.817.8747.