Behind Gary Ransdell Hall is a small building surrounded by shrubbery and flowers of all kinds. Though easy to miss, it holds a gem many students never see.
The building is the WKU Floral Design Training Center, and the gem is the class it offers — introduction to floral design.
Originally serving as the WKU Floral Shop until mid-2018, its many visitors and students left its floors well-used, creaking with every step. Much like the building’s outside, the inside is encased in flowers and plants, and posters of floral tools and flower species cover the walls.
The building itself is just the vessel for the course, which is run by assistant professor Roger Dennis, a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers.
“I think what makes it so special is that it’s real-world experience,” Dennis said as he stood behind a wooden counter in the training center.
For those venturing into agriculture-centric majors or business management, the course provides a peek into the meticulous care needed for flowers as well as the process of designing decor. But for those who just like flowers, the course is still valuable.
Sophomore horticulture major Robert Swift said he likes the hands-on learning the class provides.
“I think it’s really good, being able to bring in some ideas and be able to make designs,” Swift said as he packed up his things and reached for his finished design piece — a round centerpiece filled with yellow carnations, dark yellow Viking mums, purple statice and green leather leaf fern.
As a participant in the course, every Thursday afternoon brings a smileto my face. While I went into the first class with almost no background in floral design, I have already learned so much about various parts of the art.
With a weekly class time of two hours and 45 minutes, the first half of class is dedicated to a lecture intended to give background knowledge and insight into the piece you will design. The second half is completely hands-on — cutting the stems on greenery and flowers, arranging them into your design container and rearranging them until they come together as perfectly as possible.
Looking at all the individual flowers and design pieces can seem intimidating, but it’s enjoyable to try different things and find the many ways to arrange individual pieces of art.
This class doesn’t rely solely on a lecture but provides ample time for trial and error in creating your own masterpiece. The class fee of $125 provides you with all of the material you need to succeed — the flowers, the greenery, vases, bowls and any other materials you might need to learn.
The pieces you design are not just flowers in a vase, Dennis said, they are art. And this class allows you to appreciate the art even if you choose not to pursue it as a career.
Dennis’ goal for students is for them to simply let go while trying new things, which is often the course’s most difficult aspect.
“[The hardest part is] letting themselves go and be creative and nottry to do exactly what I do,” Dennis explained. “Even though the ultimate goal is for them to be able to recreate. [It’s hard] for them to just be able to let go and not get so stressed out when they do designs.”
In the beginning, the class may feel overwhelming and even sometimes stressful. But as time goes on, you might find you’re exactly where you belong.
Features reporter Taylor Metcalf can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]