WKU Floral Shop readies for the holidays

Campbellsville senior, Amy Murphy makes a floral arrangement for a client at the WKU Floral House on Tuesday, October 31.

Hannah McCarthy

When you walk in the front door of the little house on Regents Avenue, evergreens dusted in white and draped in red ribbons line the walls of the rooms. Snowmen of all sizes and shapes adorn the trees and shelves, beckoning Christmas spirit from all who enter.

If you walk in the back door, a completely different spirit is present. Students and faculty move about the silver lab tables and stacks of unassembled decorations. Drawers and shelves full of vases and twine surround them. A warmer full of a sticky yellow substance sits on the corner of one of the tables, resembling a messy chemistry experiment.

“That’s a glue pan,” Roger Dennis, clinical assistant professor of floriculture and horticulture, said. “We use it for silk arrangements and things like that.”

This small house, sometimes mistaken for an actual residence, is the WKU Floral Design Training Center and Floral Shop. It is a business, a classroom, a laboratory and a place for many students to discover new talents. Dennis, who has worked as a WKU faculty member for 17 years, is also the director of the WKU Floral Shop. He said his favorite thing about his job is seeing the students grow.

“The reward is when you have students that go out and get jobs like at Disney as floral designers or in events at Opryland Hotel and things of that nature,” Dennis said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about making students successful at what they’re doing.”

Many of the students in with the floristry minor tend to go on to work in the hospitality industry, and Dennis said the program caters to this by offering business-oriented classes and training. The students are able to work in the shop as designers, but they also get to cashier and manage orders.

“Not only do we have floral design courses … but also we have floral shop management so that way they learn about the business and how it is run,” Dennis said. “Also incorporated into the classes, we teach about how to handle large events such as weddings or corporate events.”

One student who participates in these various activities and classes is Campbellsville senior Amy Murphy. Murphy is an agriculture major with a horticulture concentration. She has a minor in floristry and now works at the WKU Floral Shop. She said she has come a long way since her first class at the shop.

“The first time I walked in was for a class, and we were doing a lab,” Murphy said. “And honestly I felt overwhelmed because I was like ‘I can’t do this.’”

Now, Murphy is in charge of completing the daily orders. She arranges them according to the exact design plans given. Sometimes she even gets to deliver the flowers herself. Murphy said the job could get unexpectedly hectic.

“We start working on daily orders and trying to get those finished, and then we take phone calls throughout the day. Then if Ms. Debbie’s not here, we’re trying to wait on the customers too. It can be chaotic.”

Although the job can be tough, both Dennis and Murphy love what they do, and they want to be able to share their work with others on campus and in the community.

This week the WKU Floral Design Training Center and Floral Shop will host an open house with door prizes and discounts to engage the public in their hard work. The open house will feature the new holiday decorations and gifts which the store offers from now through the holiday season. It is open to WKU students as well as the entire Bowling Green community.

“I would like to see more students coming in…I think most people think it’s just a classroom or a house,” Dennis said. “I’ve had some students come and knock on the door.”

Dennis hopes the open house will draw new customers and raise awareness around campus of the work that the students and faculty do on a daily basis.

The holiday open house will run on Nov. 3-4 from 9 a.m. to 4p.m. and more information is available on Facebook or on Twitter.

Features Editor Hannah McCarthy can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]