Colorful blooms for sale at Saddleback’s greenhouse

Yvonne Alliman, a lab technician in charge of Advanced Technology for Arts and Science greenhouse operations, looked over her domain with an air of quiet satisfaction.

Earlier that morning, all of the tables both outside and inside the greenhouse were full of the thousands of the plants Alliman and her assistants, Greenhouse Assistant Tina Maldini and Student Aid Susan Senkbill, had nurtured from seed or cutting to perfect bloom.

Now, although many tables were empty, the remaining ones were still ablaze with colorful blooms or leaves of dark and cooling green. Better still, those empty tables meant that the Spring Plant Sale had been successful in raising money to fund scholarships in Horticulture.

A modest and dedicated woman with only the slightest lilt in her voice to remind one of her childhood in Jamaica, Alliman speaks softly and warmly about her botanical charges. The most rewarding thing “is simply seeing the plants grow”, but her modesty belies an artistry beyond skill. An 18-year veteran she is, and in the words of Senkill, “truly amazing, she grows everything!”

Alliman, who admits to loving plants since her childhood came to the college through apprenticeships and coursework that took her from Jamaica, to Louisiana, to southern California and Saddleback where she has worked for the last 15 years, hosting two plant sales, one in the fall and one in winter.

Both of her assistants, who are each seeking formal academic recognition for their work, are equally concerned with the continued excellence of their Horticulture work. Upon receiving their certificates, both hope to continue at the Greenhouse, assisting Alliman and helping members of the public to make the most sensible purchases for their lawns and gardens.

The strong attachment to the Greenhouse is also expressed by the Department of Horticulture Chair, Dr. Charles (Charlie) Harrison. Although Dr. Harrison will be retiring as a full-time faculty member and Department Chair this year, he intends to continue teaching as a part-time member of the College faculty.

His pride in the program he has been a part of for 32 years was manifest. He cited as his most meaningful accomplishments, the maximizing the vocational strengths of the program: “seeing horticulture students get good jobs [and] development of the greenhouse facilities [which has facilitated] a large number of students coming for skill upgrades, personal enrichment and credentialing”.

Clearly, he takes great pride that this program has delivered so many practical benefits to so many individuals taking coursework within the department.

For those who have the “green thumb” a visit to the sale is a “must do” event. For those who can’t keep Swedish Ivy, this is a great place to go for help.

The beauty and peace of the facility is therapeutic and the prices during the sales are fantastic.