Spartanburg Community College's horticulture program prepares students for a career in garden cultivation and management, and one of those students is Josh Guerrero. 

The 22-year-old Greenville native has spent the past two years getting his associate degree in horticulture. He learned about the program from a friend. The horticulture program was interesting to Guerrero because he is good at growing things. In his first gardening effort, Guerrero grew zinnias from seed in his own garden.

He is one of 65 people in the college's program. His interest is in British gardening. He said, “I have learned so much about soil prep, pruning, and plant identification, just to name a few things."

Guerrero said one of his worst days involved learning about irrigation and getting wet on a cold wintry morning. The best experience was working on the theme gardens around the college's campus.

"I feel grateful that I am here at SCC and can have that opportunity to make that Asian Garden come to life," he said. "I love making a space beautiful.”

In his own garden, Guerrero has created a lush herbaceous border full of perennials, but he doesn't call it "yardwork." He says he has a garden. And after a day of laboring in the “garden,” he feels great. He wants to show off his garden to inspire others to do the same.

He is currently passionate about dahlias. Last year, he planted about 25 dahlia tubers, ordering them from Washington. His dahlias are plants producing flowers of all sizes and shapes. His favorite dahlias are Black Narcissus, Rebecca's World, and Twilight.

Another one of his favorite plant groups is the salvias. Guerrero loves their bold colors. One of his favorite salvias is Indigo Spires, with its bright neon blue flowers and dark stems mingling with a chocolate brown or almost black leafed-annual grass called The Prince. He also likes Mulberry Jam salvia with its bright fuchsia fat blooms and Scarlet Spires salvia that can stand up to the South Carolina heat.

In addition, Guerrero loves upright perennials and gets lots of satisfaction out of seeing them blend together with cannas and other bold leave plants. He gets many ideas from visiting local gardens. 

This fall, Guerrero wants to head to the Pacific Northwest. His goal is to work in a botanic garden. When he heads out to the Northwest, he said he will be sad to say goodbye to his first garden. But he wants to see and study other gardens and learn from their gardeners. 

Based on the excitement, passion and enthusiasm Guerrero has for gardening, horticulture in the United States has a bright future.

— Linda Cobb is a master gardener who lectures, teaches, and does garden design in South Carolina. She can be reached at 864-574-8493 or email her at lindacobb@charter.net. Visit her website at www.mygardenersguide.com