Spotlight- Fred Garrett, Helped Sandhills Blossom

fgarrett.pngIf you try to praise Fred Garrett for the lasting impressions he made on Sandhills Community College, he insists his many accomplishments “were team efforts.”

But the truth is Mr. Garrett, instrumental in the formation of the college’s highly acclaimed Landscape Gardening Program, has forever changed Sandhills Community College and the lives of hundreds of students.

During the ice storm of January 1968, Mr. Garrett, working at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, drove for a Saturday morning interview with Dr. Raymond Stone for the proposed Landscape Gardening program. “The trees were popping and cracking when I arrived and the campus was deserted,” Mr. Garrett recalls. “I knocked at the door of a home next to the college, to maybe get some information, and was astounded when Dr. Stone answered the door in his bathrobe! He didn’t expect me in such a storm.”

In his years as coordinator of the Landscape Gardening Program, until he retired in 2001, Fred Garrett built a respected and notable program, sought even by numerous students who had already earned a university degree.

Sandhills’ landscaping students have gone on to positions of distinction, including serving as landscapers at beautiful gardens and famous places nationwide. Two White House landscapers are Sandhills’ graduates, from the 1971 and 1972 classes, now serving their eighth U.S. president.

“I never had children so the students became my children,” Mr. Garrett says.
“I am so proud of all their accomplishments.”

The students of the college’s Horticulture Club started a fund-raising effort for the establishment of the Ebersole Holly Garden on campus in 1977. That garden was the beginning of the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, twelve lovely themed gardens now on 32-acres maintained by students in the Landscape Gardening program.

Many parents have photographed their children holding hands with the life-sized children of the bronze cast statues in front of the Ball Visitor’s Center. The “Circle of Peace” was a tribute to Mr. Garrett upon his retirement. “It’s such an honor,” Mr. Garrett says, “but, really, everything that was accomplished was the work of faculty, students, administrative staff, community supporters and generous donors.”

Original source, “50/50” 2012

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