If you are looking for Horticulture major Zachary Quintois at Temple Ambler you need look no further than the Tyler School of Art and Architecture Greenhouse Education and Research Complex. He's made the Greenhouse a second home and caring for the plant collection a top priority.

"Having the experiences that I've had in the Greenhouse definitely helps me in my classes — some of the things I'm learning in the Greenhouse I might not have the opportunity to learn in the classroom," he said. "Having that hands-on experience helps me apply the knowledge both in class and when I'm directly working with the plants. I know it'll help me in the future should I have a greenhouse of my own or if I'm working in the agricultural field."

Quintois said a strong motivator for him to work in the Greenhouse was the opportunity to work with Greenhouse Manager Benjamin Snyder.

"(Snyder) has such a deep knowledge of horticulture and the plants and I knew I could learn from that," he said. "Being hands-on with the plants and getting to work with them whenever I'm in the Greenhouse — there is a broad scope to the opportunities I have to enhance my skills. Typically, I'm involved in the day-to-day at the Greenhouse — pest management, moving certainly plants from the Hoop House to the Greenhouse, watering, fertilizing, and just doing some general weeding around the Greenhouse."

Quintois passion for plants came naturally, he said.

"What drew me to horticulture was simply being out in nature. Growing up I was a Boy Scout and I was always drawn to being outside. That's what got me into plants and plant identification," he said. "I can't really narrow down one area of horticulture I'm most interested in — I'm interested in everything. I really just like being hands-on with the plants and getting to know everything about them."

His path to becoming a Horticulture major, however, included a few side trips along the way.

"I started at Temple in 2020 as a Biology student. I was initially planning on going to medical school but that wasn't the right fit for me. I switched to entrepreneurship, but that still wasn't quite right either," he said. "A friend of mine was in Temple's horticulture program and she knew that I was really into plants and suggested to me that I'd probably really like horticulture. I made the big switch and came to Temple Ambler — I am so glad I made the change, but I wouldn't change anything about my journey to get here."

Working in the Greenhouse afforded Quintois the opportunity to work on one of the largest hands-on experiences available to horticulture majors — preparing plants for Temple's 2024 Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit, Piers, Progress and Processes: Charting a Course for a More Bountiful Future.

"A lot goes into getting plants ready for the Flower Show. We have to force the plants and trees them to bloom at the right time for the show — basically we have to make the plants think it is spring," he said. "Considerations include humidity and proper temperature. The trees, for example, are placed into mist tents, which really helps with temperature control and humidity. A lot of these techniques are built on prior knowledge — Temple has been involved in the Flower Show for a very long time."

Working with Snyder, fellow Horticulture senior Frankie Napoli and Landscape Architecture juniors Owen Lambert and Zachary Neyen, Quintois and company worked their magic to convince more than 500 plants from 60 different species that there's no real need to wait until spring to bloom.

Working on the Flower Show, Quintois said, "is a great opportunity to practically apply the knowledge I'm gaining in both the classroom and the Greenhouse."

"When I was first coming in here as a horticulture and I saw all of the preparation that was going into the Flower Show I was in absolute awe. We're still one of the only exhibitors that forces their own plants for their exhibit," he said. "For someone who didn't really know where I was going in life, this is just super special to me. I hope visitors really got a sense of how much we put into creating a beautiful exhibit."

The Flower Show judges certainly did.

Temple's exhibit was awarded an astounding six top honors, including a PHS Gold Medal, awarded to a major exhibit that receives 95 or more points out of 100 in the "criteria of design, horticulture, plantsmanship and educational value."

Piers, Progress and Processes was additionally awarded: The Bulkley Medal of the Garden Club of America; the Alfred M. Campbell Memorial Trophy; the Pennsylvania Landscape Nursery Association Trophy; the Special Achievement Award of The Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania; and the PHS Gardening for the Greater Good Award for the exhibit "that best exemplifies PHS's mission to activate horticulture and gardening as a force for the 'greater good' by advancing the health and well-being of the people and their environments."

"Having only been in horticulture for a short time and already having an award-winning Flower Show exhibit under my belt really makes me look in the mirror and makes me feel proud of who I am as a person and who I am as a horticulturalist," said Quintois. "I would say that my identification techniques my forcing techniques and just general plant care techniques all improved during the duration of this directed study and that's just scratching the surface — there is so much that I learned from this experience."

If Quintois could put his Temple experience into one word, it would be "amazing."

"Making the switch from business to horticulture was probably the best decision I've made so far in my life," he said. "If I could be here forever, I would because it's such a great community and a great environment. I wouldn't change it for the world."