OCC Students Create Architectural Garden Using Recycled City Trees Donated by WCA, Inc.




Originally posted in Coast to Coast

*** All wood for this project came from recycled city trees and was donated by WCA, Inc. Find more photos by clicking here. *** 

OCC FIrst Place South Coast Plaza

Students from Orange Coast College’s Horticulture Club and Architectural Technology teamed up to create a unique entry for South Coast Plaza’s 24th Annual Southern California Spring Garden Show, April 25-28.

Following the show theme of “Garden as Art,” the OCC exhibit focuses on environmental art. The garden’s architectural forms mimic lines found in nature like a nautilus’s shell or a fern’s unfurling fronds.

Under the direction of horticulture instructor Rick Harlow, the club built the entire project on campus and transported it to South Coast Plaza’s Crystal Court, where they spent three nights re-assembling the garden in time for today’s opening. Students also selected the plant palette and installed plants and other materials donated by several local businesses.

OCC Horiculture and Architecture Club

OCC’s ambitious garden project focuses on environmental art and features an extraordinary contribution from environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy. Working from the Goldsworthy designs, students from Professor Rose Anne King’s Design Build 2 class began creating models for the garden structures that would be included in the garden show design. The models were then presented to the Horticulture Club’s executive Garden Show team – Debbie Coultas, Lynn Neal and Lorry Ann Lup.

“The variety of well thought out concepts was amazing” said Lup. “And it was exciting to see them take the model that was picked and enthusiastically begin refining the design to fit the garden show’s requirements. The beautiful bench structures created by these students from the Architectural Technology Departments are an integral part of the Orange Coast submission.”


The Orange Coast College 2013 Spring Garden Design creates an environmental art experience for a visitor to the garden using flowing space, natural elements and sculptural structure, according to Harlow. The garden offers more than passive viewing; it is experiential. A journey through the garden follows the natural curves of the benches as if flowing along a peaceful brook. The ribs of the structure envelope the visitor, like the petals of a closing flower. The design challenge was to create a private oasis, inviting the viewer to focus on the journey, not the destination.

Drawing on nearby natural resources, the bench structures are created with artistic enthusiasm from locally sourced, recycled city trees. The wood is planed, leaving intact the naturally beautiful bark. The structures are crafted without nails using only dowels and glue. The contrast between the planed and rough surfaces of the wood emphasize the naturalistic foundation of the soaring architectural forms. The structures stand on their own as works of art, and at the same time they are integral to the garden as a whole.

A conceptual tree balances the structures and waits for discovery at the end of the path. The concentric panels which form the tree allow for interior entry, to stand amongst the growth rings with a view upward, towards the cosmos. Plant materials hug and surround the garden in metallic planters. The path has been formed to mimic both flowing water and blowing sand.

By featuring an environmental art experience at the spring garden show, OCC provides an inspirational example of using artistic elements of nature in contemporary garden designs.

Harlow encourages his students to participate in the garden show project because “it gives the students an opportunity to see a project through from conception to display.”

This is OCC’s fourth year of participation in the SoCal Garden show. Last year students collaborated with the Braille Institute Orange County to create a Sensory Garden for the Blind. The garden was a tremendous success at the show and earned OCC first place recognition.

The garden continues to be alive and useful. After the completion of the show, the garden was then moved and reassembled at the Blind Children’s Learning Center in Santa Ana. The garden structure is the centerpiece of a sensory garden on campus and allows the children to experience year round the joy of nature and interaction with the outdoors. OCC students at Orange Coast College got an unexpected amount of positive feedback from both the blind community and the general public, an unforeseen and satisfying reward, Harlow said.

Creating this year’s submission has again been a rewarding experience for Orange Coast students. “It’s something that’s exclusively owned by the students,” Harlow said. “They built something that is much more complex to design in order for it to be portable. It was really great work this year.”

“Our goal was to create a garden that can be experienced both as a place of quiet meditation and as a striking piece of design,” said Debbie Coultas, president of the Horticulture Club.

“It was a great experience because Architecture has great ideas and really thinks out of the box,” said Kari Kerr, another student. “It is wonderful to see the two disciplines of horticulture and architecture come together so seamlessly.” Added student Lauren Hicks, “It was a labor of love.”

Luis Pedraza, who worked on last year’s display, praised the collaboration between the Horticulture Club and the architecture program. “Our design process has enhanced because we had a model on the computer to help us visualize our concept,” he explained.

This is OCC’s fourth year of participation in the SoCal Garden Show, which features more than 80 specialty garden vendors who offer exotic plants, creative ideas and unique garden accessories for sale. Horticulture experts will present free seminars over the four-day event. Children are invited to participate in garden projects, crafts and other interactive on Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28.

“OCC’s Ornamental Horticulture Department prides itself on having a very fine program for students planning on entering the field of horticulture and for people already working in the industry who wish to expand and update their horticultural knowledge,” Harlow said. Students may take one or more courses from the program to gain personal enrichment about horticulture, or they may take the courses required for a Certificate of Achievement or Associate in Science degree. Visit the department’s website at www.tinyurl.com/occhort.

For more information about the garden show, visit www.springgardenshow.com.

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