Thursday, August 25, 2011

Student designs Serenity Garden to mark Sept. 11 anniversary

Rendering of the Serenity Garden on the FLCC campus

Finger Lakes Community College will dedicate the new student-designed Serenity Garden on its main campus grounds on Friday, Sept. 9, at noon as part of its remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Nikkohl Luehm
Nikkohl Luehm, 24, of Irondequoit, a 2011 FLCC graduate who attended East Ridge High School, designed the garden as part of her spring advanced landscape design coursework with Rochelle Smith, instructor of horticulture.
Emergency service providers from the FLCC service area of Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties have been invited and will be acknowledged during the ceremony. The Rev. Edward Kennedy, professor of psychology, and Lt. Jon Hussey, pastor of The Salvation Army in Canandaigua, will give the invocation and benediction.
The Serenity Garden is behind the arboretum off the main campus road, Marvin Sands Drive. It will be available as a place for contemplation for students, employees and the community.
Luehm’s design incorporates symbols of peace, harmony and balance. For example, the circular pathways symbolize unity and focus. Plants positioned in groups of three can represent past, present and future or body, mind and spirit.
“Many of my ideas came from the ancient Chinese science of feng shui, which focuses on understanding the forces of the nature and how we interact with them in order to maintain balance and harmony,” she said.
All of the plants are native to the United States with nearly all native to the Northeast, including birch trees, oak trees, butterfly weed and chokeberry.
“Before coming to FLCC I obtained a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, so I have a strong interest in sustainability and environmental conservation,” Luehm said. “I thought using native plants would not only tie into the underlying principles of feng shui but also support FLCC’s commitment to promoting sustainability and environmental conservation.
“I also wanted it to be used as an opportunity for both conservation and horticulture students to learn these plants and how they can be used in the landscape,” added Luehm, who currently works in the plant nursery at Bristol’s Garden Center in Victor.
The garden is a work in progress and future phases in Luehm’s design will include a water fountain, symbolizing life and renewal.
“I want people to understand the themes and symbolism of the garden, but most of all I really hope people use it and enjoy it,” she said.
Private funding for the first phase was provided by the FLCC Alumni Association and Nozomi Williams of Geneva.  Landscape contractors are Mayflowers Nursery and Garden of Canandaigua and Grassman Landscaping and Lawn Care Services of Rushville. Grassman has also donated in-kind services.
FLCC President Barbara Risser and instructor Rochelle Smith came up with the idea for the Serenity Garden during a conversation about ways to mark the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. They developed the concepts the landscape designs should address, and Smith presented it as a project for advanced students. Two students gave presentations to a committee before Luehm’s design was chosen in a process similar to one a landscape designer would face in the marketplace.
Donations may be made for further stages of the Serenity Garden by contacting the FLCC Foundation at (585) 785-1541 or
The Serenity Garden dedication is open to the public as are two additional events to mark the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11:
Students, faculty and staff will give public readings of profiles of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on Friday, Sept. 9, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. in the second floor hallway of the main campus.
Finger Lakes Camerata, a choral group based at FLCC, will perform Fauré’s memorial piece “Requiem” at an ecumenical service on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 3 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 183 N. Main St., Canandaigua.

For more information, contact Community Affairs at (585) 785-1660.

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