Don Horowitz, a co-owner of Wittendale’s Florist and Greenhouses on Newtown Lane in East Hampton, took more than a wealth of knowledge home from the Cornell Floriculture Field Day, held Aug. 13 at the Bluegrass Lane Horticultural Research Facility in Ithaca, N.Y. He also brought back a medal, awarded for his winning entry in the Kathy Pufahl Container Design Competition.
The competition, in memory of the late founder of the Beds and Borders greenhouse and garden center in Laurel, is an annual fund-raiser for research into inflammatory bowel disease at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Along with plant-centric lectures like “Tuberous Trips and Rhizomatous Romps Through the Summer Bulb Garden” and updates on biocontrol and state regulations on invasive species, the field day’s competition spotlights hanging basket and container creations that are judged on criteria including color scheme, foliage texture, use of structural elements, and plant health and compatibility.
Mr. Horowitz’s prizewinning creation, entered in the “Unlimited — no limit to size or materials used” category, is a large ceramic pot filled with succulents including aloe, crassula, haworthia, rhipsalis, aeonium, senecio, and echeveria.
“They’re all the basic succulent types,” said Mr. Horowitz, “which are perfect and very popular this time of year because they thrive in sun. People use them outdoors on patios, and things like this can be brought in and kept indoors for the winter. We make them in all different sizes.” For the competition, he said, “I just made a really big one.” A large stone dragonfly, peeking out from the flora, added a unique touch.
Mr. Horowitz, a Cornell alumnus, was one of few Long Island participants, with most coming from a small radius around Ithaca. “I wanted to go for the plant conference as well as to bring an entry,” he said. “It was fun to go back, visit the campus, meet some of the new students, and talk with some of the old professors I’ve known.”
The fact that the award honors Ms. Pufahl, a renowned horticulturalist who is widely acknowledged as a revolutionary in the art of container gardening, is particularly meaningful to Mr. Horowitz. “She was one of the earliest people to come up with unique container plants, as far as mixed containers and making them available to the horticultural trade, which in turn makes them available to landscapers and homeowners.” Ms. Pufahl died in 2003. “A lot of the plants and design concepts we use today are basically her ideas. It’s a nice tribute to her memory.”