April 30, 2019
Ronna-Lee Orlando and daughter, Danielle.
Ronna-Lee Orlando and daughter, Danielle.
A mother/daughter duo from the Mohawk College Horticulture Technician Apprenticeship Program literally exemplifies the 2019 Canada Blooms theme, ‘A Family Affair.’ Apprentices, Ronna-Lee Orlando and her daughter, Danielle were part of a team effort that built the Heirs of Horticulture feature garden at the annual flower and garden festival, held March 8-17, 2019 in downtown Toronto.

The Heirs of Horticulture feature garden successfully showcased the talent and skill of the apprenticeship students to families and garden visitors alike. The efforts and hard work of the apprenticeship program truly enhanced public awareness of the profession and the Red Seal trade, as well as the many life-long, rewarding career opportunities in landscaping and horticulture.

With a passion for the outdoors and over 14 years of landscape and horticulture experience, Ronna-Lee helped to inspire Danielle to follow in her horticulture footsteps. Back in grade 9, Danielle participated in a ‘Bring Your Child to Work Day,’ and spent a day at work with her mom. Since then, her career path has been focused on horticulture.

Both Ronna-Lee and Danielle participated as apprentices in the Level 1 in-class training program at Mohawk College this past winter. As part of that training, both Level 1 and Level 2 apprentices worked closely with instructors and members of the landscape profession to build the Heirs of Horticulture garden for Canada Blooms. The duo commented that the in-class training offered them a lot of new knowledge and skill to add to their professional portfolios. Danielle is proud of her mother for showing others in the class that “you are never too old to continue to learn.” Ronna-Lee liked that she and her daughter continue to be each others cheerleaders — providing encouragement and support.

After the build, both mother and daughter volunteered to staff the garden during the show. “I loved being at Blooms and telling the public that it was the Mohawk Apprenticeship (class) who did the build,” Ronna-Lee says proudly. Both note that their employer, Lisa Philip of Garden Angels, is a strong supporter of the apprenticeship program, and a great source of inspiration. In fact, Lisa’s daughter, who also works for the company, has completed her apprenticeship in-class Level 2.

Ronna-Lee and Danielle’s story is just one of many that illustrate how, more than ever, families across Ontario are leveraging the Apprenticeship Program to help grow their business. Over the past year, Landscape Ontario has seen an increase in the number of family-owned companies looking for more training and on-the-job development opportunities. Business owners are looking to support succession planning — to ensure the next generation of business owners have the proper tools and knowledge to take on the complex task of owning and operating a landscape and horticulture business.

The Heirs of Horticulture garden build also included three apprentices representing the second generation of business owners, who will continue to grow their family businesses in the future.

For the last three years, Landscape Ontario has invested in promoting and increasing participation in the Horticultural Technician/Landscape Horticulturist Red Seal Apprenticeship Program across the province. LO’s Apprenticeship Program team has worked with a number of employers and apprentices, and have observed that the most successful candidates have a ‘village’ to support them throughout their apprenticeship journey. Horticultural Apprenticeship relies on a complex network, which including: government, college partners, Landscape Ontario, and most importantly, supportive employer mentors and trainers who commit to retaining and developing their staff. To showcase this network to consumers, Landscape Ontario worked closely with landscape professionals, suppliers, educators and students to design and build the Heirs of Horticulture feature garden at Canada Blooms, 2019.

A special thank you to the generous sponsors and donors, who played an important role in making the Heirs of Horticulture garden a reality: Permacon, Niagara Pallet, Mohawk College, Turf Care, Illumicare Group Ltd., Gelderman Landscape Services, NVK, Select Stone Supply, and Sheridan Nurseries.


In January 2019, Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association was approved to provide Apprenticeship Group Sponsor Program Services across the province.
This program makes registration more efficient and easier, for the apprentice applicant and employer.



Contact Alex Gibson, Landscape Ontario Apprenticeship Program Coordinator,
at 613-809-5093 or jagibson@landscapeontario.com. Apply online at HorticultureTechnician.ca.