The best horticultural programs in Ontario


What’s the best way to extend the life of cut roses?

Use the entire preservative pack that came with the cut roses in the first deep vase of water – the more water that comes in contact with the rose stems, the longer they will last. Change the water daily. Use only lukewarm water at room temperature, straight from the tap. Put the cut roses in a cool room or in the refrigerator at night. Exposing them to cool nighttime temperatures and daily water changes will extend their lifespan by several days.

Perhaps the best investment you can make is a horticultural education. Let me tell you why.

Of the more than 130,000 people employed full time in the horticulture industry in Ontario, and about twice as many nationally, there is one remarkable common thread among most of them: They love their jobs.

How many industries can say that? I have spent my time on Bay Street, meeting lawyers, accountants and the like, in the comings and goings of running my own businesses over the years. Every time I leave the towers of this historic district, I say to myself: “I’m so glad I chose to be a gardener”.

Is it the fresh air? Physical aspect ? The fact that I’ll never know everything there is to know about the world of horticulture? Indeed, I’ll never know more than a fraction, and the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. It may be the people, who are generally honest, open and happy. Maybe they are happy because they love their job. Alas, I have come full circle.

Before you jump into the “industry” (my, how much I hate that word) of horticulture as a career choice, I suggest that you consider the options in the world of formal education. You don’t have to be a recent high school graduate to qualify, as many colleges accept mature students. If you’re a frustrated mid-life lawyer, this can be the answer to a fulfilling professional future.

Here is a brief overview of the educational institutions in the province that offer a specialty in horticulture:

Study programme

University of Guelph: Horticultural sciences and landscape architecture.

University of Toronto: Masters in landscape architecture (and forestry, but probably not exactly “horticulture”).

Degree programs

Niagara Parks Commission: A three-year full-time learning experience where students graduate through a combination of academic coursework and a highly regarded hands-on program. Students learn through hands-on experience maintaining the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Maximum 12 students per year.

Fanshawe College:The only three-year landscaping degree program in the province. Also, a two-year horticultural technician diploma program. Both programs use Cuddy Gardens facilities and college grounds for training.

Sainte-Claire College:A two-year horticultural technician program.

Algonquin College: Two-year horticultural technician program where one semester is spent in a hands-on program in the outdoor classroom.

Humber College:One of the first colleges in Ontario to offer a two-year Landscape Technician program, which is still in high demand.

Durham College: A two-year horticultural technician diploma program with a focus on food gardening. One of the newer in the area and it’s a good start.

Seneca College: A two-year diploma course in environmental landscape at the King campus.

Niagara College: A two-year horticultural technician program.

Ridgetown College: A two-year associate’s degree in a horticultural program (through the University of Guelph).

All of these programs are full time. According to Tony DiGiovanni, Executive Director of Landscape Ontario, there are many other programs that offer part-time and online opportunities. Check out the Horticultural Technician Apprenticeship Program run by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU), which is a “great vehicle for people already working in the field to earn a designation. the province of Ontario ”(according to Tony).

“Love your job”: As you reflect on your own life and what the transition to horticulture could mean for you, let’s focus on a few people who are rooted in the world of education in this field.

Richard Zoltek is the Program Coordinator for the Landscape Technician Course at Humber College in Toronto. He recently negotiated an agreement with Dalhousie University in Halifax whereby graduates of the Humber Diploma Program will have direct access to the third year of the Landscape Horticulture Diploma course at Dalhousie.

He is pretty much a passionate educator like you will find everywhere.

Zoltek reports that each year Humber hosts a career fair for all students in the program, with room for 40 companies to show their best side and solicit new hires from the group of students. “Each year there are many more jobs in all areas of the landscaping industry than there are Humber graduates to fill them,” he says.

He adds that there are now greater scholarship opportunities as the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation recently announced that it will more than double the scholarship funds for all full-time horticultural trades courses. . It is possible to apply for a one-time scholarship of $ 2,000 at the 12 post-secondary schools listed above. For more details, visit You will find over $ 60,000 in free money available to eligible students.

Food gardening: Another educator who deserves a good press is Shane Jones of the recently hatched Diploma in Food and Farming and Horticultural Technician Diploma courses at Durham College.

Jones is excited about the rapid adoption of the programs in Durham. Although they are almost fully subscribed at the moment, he urges parents of student-aged children and high school guidance counselors to talk to young people about the potential for them in this “dynamic industry.”

“We work in an industry full of people who do exactly what they love. “

As for the readers who are sitting on the fence, unsure of a vision of life on the outside, working with living plants, connecting with people who share an intense and ongoing interest, his advice is simple: “I have them. would urge to get hold of dirty. Go out and find out that you can’t live any other way.

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, host and editor of Reno and Decor magazine. Receive its free monthly newsletter on markcullen.comTO FINISH, and watch it on CTV Canada AM every Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. Follow it on Twitter @ MarkCullen4TO FINISH and FacebookTO FINISH.


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