Marlington High School: Horticulture program gives students hands-on lessons


ALLIANCE, Ohio — Hidden behind a green gateway at the Michael Bach Landscaping Project at Marlington High School stands a treasure for the eyes and mind.

Visitors to the garden will find a student-created waterfall, a pencil that doubles for a bench while visitors sit and enjoy giant crayons that act as a learning tool for students to learn their colors.

The garden is an ongoing project of the school’s horticulture program.

Landscaping project

Marlington teacher John Hippley said the entire landscaping project began in 2000 and was named for Michael Bach, the first horticultural teacher at the school. It aids the students in learning how to work with brick and rock, which many landscapers use for designs in homes and businesses.

This year, there were 19 seniors and 12 juniors who worked on the landscaping project.

Learning tools

The garden, part of the landscaping project, is designed by students within some general rules from Hippely. Now the garden includes a life-size measuring tape so that students can learn how to measure, a bench designed to look like a pencil, every letter in the alphabet, and even crayons to learn colors.

“It is a learning tool for students in the horticulture program to learn the latest landscaping techniques and for elementary students to gain English, history and science lessons,” said Hippley.

The landscaping students also learn to run irrigation lines and how to properly drain soil for different gardening projects, including the construction of the pavilion. Hippley said they also learn to run gas and water lines, however the school hires professionals to hook them up.

The garden included a rock garden with a working waterfall operated by six pumps. It took the class three weeks to construct it.

“Anyone can come out and enjoy this,” said Hippley.

In addition, students built a wind turbine in the garden that produces enough electricity to power the landscape lights in the garden.


Although Hippley is retiring at the end of the school year, the garden project will continue to expand. There are already plans drawn by students for the garden to grow into the woods behind the garden.

The plans include an alley of presidents and boulevard of states, where students will learn when each state entered the union and little tidbits of information about it. The state project will begin with the states bordering the Atlantic Ocean and expand to Hawaii.

Other projects are to include traffic court, where students will be able to learn what different road signs mean, and a garden of continents, where students will be able to identify the continents through clues given on plaques.

Although Hippley is proud of his students’ accomplishments in the garden project, he is quick to point out it would not be possible without the horticulture program.

Growing plants

The horticulture program has several fundraisers throughout the school year, including the annual plant sale now underway.

The 18 junior and senior students in the horticulture program are responsible for growing the plants.

Katie Farnham, a junior in the horticulture program, said students started the plants in February and most were started from seeds. Others were started through plugs or the cutting process.

The students have produced geraniums, Gerbera daisies, marigolds and other types of flowers for use in hanging baskets, bedding or planted pots. The students also have vegetable plants for sale including peppers, tomatoes and herbs.

The students are also offering custom planted pots for customers. Community members can drop off their empty pots and the students will plant them with the flowers they request. All of the proceeds from the plant sales will go toward the Marlington Horticulture Program.

Open House:

Marlington High School Horticulture Program Open House

Every Saturday in May from 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Also open Monday-Friday until 2:30 p.m.
Flowers, bedding plants and vegetables including peppers, tomatoes and herbs
Students will also create custom combinations. Customers are welcome to bring their own pots in for custom planting.


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