Reflecting On An All-Time Great Floriculture Program

Reflecting On An All-Time Great Floriculture Program

Ken Goldsberry, a former Colorado State University (CSU) horticulture professor, recently reflected on Jack Williams, one of his most gifted students, and the glory days of the CSU floriculture program in a letter to Greenhouse Grower Editor Delilah Onofrey:

Delilah:You did a beautiful job telling the story about Jack Williams. He was special in many ways. I was the faculty advisor for both Jack and Paul (Ecke) III when they were at Colorado State University. Dr. Dave Hartley was also in the department and a few years later also went to work for the Ecke Ranch.


During the 1960s and 70s, our floriculture program at Colorado State was rated in the top three in the nation. Professor W.D.”Bob” Holley had been the floriculture leader, and he headed the team that included Joe. J. Hanan and me. Upon Professor Holley’s retirement, Dave Hartley was brought on board, and our program continued to flourish.

We were fortunate to have two 3,000-plus square foot, connected ridge and furrow Bayfarm greenhouses that were used for our “hands-on practicum” program. The facility was used for Joe Hanan’s greenhouse management class, Dave Hartley’s courses in cut flower production and indoor plants and my course in bedding and pot plant production. 

We also had the Plant Environmental Research Center (PERC) greenhouses, where many of the students participated in research projects for credit and publication in the Colorado Greenhouse Growers publications, and sometimes in the trade magazines.

Students taking the two major production courses had two main charges: First, they all had two or three crops to start and maintain during the semester. They made sure they were planted properly, watered, fed, sprayed if needed and maintained as saleable products. Reports with all the crop records and pros and cons of the results were part of the practicum requirements.

Secondly, they chose among themselves a greenhouse manager, weekend duty persons, a water person that made sure the fertilizer tank was filled and the injector was working, and a person who coordinated the preparation of marketing the products. This included the cutting of flowers and getting them to the PERC refrigerators and ready for sale to the local florists.  

If there was a need to do some remodeling or maintenance work, everyone would pitch in and help. We felt the students of that era walked out into the world readily prepared to meet any challenge in floriculture. We had some outstanding students, and many of them have been leaders in the industry.

I’m sorry to say that, upon Dr. Hartley’s departure, the retirement of Dr. Hanan and my retirement in 1991, the floriculture program, as accomplished from 1950 through the late 1980s, has virtually died. However, we can still see the benefits of that program in people like Jack Williams and Paul Ecke III.