Photo of a SoPH student at work in the Nolen Greenhouse

Hands-on Training

Specialized Training

Rotations, field trips, plant walks, student garden plots, internships, and symposia allow students to further experience the diversity of the horticulture field.

  1. During their first year, students receive hands-on training in four areas of major concentration, along with plant health care and plant records practices. Each rotation is six weeks in duration, or approximately 200 hours. There are also opportunities to take part in special projects around the Garden as they occur throughout the year.

    At the end of each rotation, students are evaluated and tested on their mastery of horticultural skills covered in the rotation, such as planting, propagation, watering, pruning, perennial maintenance, and fertilization techniques.

  2. Plant walks are designed to help students learn to identify more than 1,000 plants based on morphological similarities and differences in preparation for the second-year Plant Final, an all-day exam to test students on the Main Plant List.

  3. During their first year, students participate in 10 to 12 field trips to public and private gardens, nurseries, celebrity estates, and ecological areas. These trips encourage students to explore opportunities, network with practitioners in the field, and see how a variety of sites function.

  4. The Student Garden Plots allow first-year students to creatively apply newly acquired skills. Each student is assigned a plot and provided instruction on how to design, install, maintain, and dismantle a 100-square-foot vegetable garden. Students are responsible for day-to-day care of the site and will receive a grade after the final evaluation.

  5. Second-year hands-on training is designed to further expand students’ horticultural skills and to work on their professional development. Second-year students commence their six-month internships in April and end them in September (total of 1,040 hours). Students are responsible for identifying areas and businesses or institutions they would like to explore for their internships and for securing approval from the Director prior to starting. Upon completion, students deliver a 10-minute presentation and write a 10-page paper on their experiences.

  6. Students attend the many lecture series and symposia sponsored by the Garden throughout the year. Among them are the Landscape Design Portfolio Lectures, the Humanities Institute Symposia, the Winter Lecture Series, and other special lecture events. Because of the world-class reputation of the Garden, these events showcase leading experts in the field on topics such as native plants, ecological design, and urban farming.