Visitors to Bradley’s campus this spring and summer may notice that the grounds are particularly beautiful. The spring weather came early and with it, a stunning array of flowers, trees, and shrubbery. A new collaboration between the biology department and the groundskeeping staff has opened up a new way to bring flowers to campus. Instead of purchasing flowers to plant around the Hilltop, the groundskeepers have started growing them in the greenhouse atop Olin Hall.
The project began last year when Dr. Ted Fleming of the biology department approached Stan Glazier, the grounds supervisor at Bradley, and offered him space in the greenhouse. Glazier and his staff jumped at the chance, planting marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias to use on campus. Having immediate success, the staff began looking for ways to expand their efforts this year. They applied for and received a growing permit, which allows them to purchase pre-grown young plants called plugs.
The groundskeeping staff began growing 2,700 plugs in February. In March, they started additional flowers from seed. While these flowers take significantly longer than the plugs to grow, watching the plants mature is exciting for both the workers and the biology department. “You can observe how things grow from seed to maturity,” Glazier said.
In mid-April, the staff began to transplant the flowers and plants around campus. Starting with the flower beds around the Hartmann Center, the vibrant colors soon spread. Visitors to campus have seen flowers in places they normally wouldn’t, such as the sidewalks in front of the Michel Student Center. They accomplish this by planting flowers in large containers. “We’ve got enough to probably do 30 containers of those this year,” Glazier explained. “We’ll have flowers at every entrance and exit to all the buildings — places before where we couldn’t have flowers, maybe because of poor soil or poor sun or not enough room.”
Among the flowers grown from seed are a variety of zinnias and marigolds. An array of petunias and super petunias were selected to be grown from plugs, including the bubblegum super, the silverberry super, and the Pretty Much Picasso. A petunia hybrid, the Pretty Much Picasso is unique. “We always try to pick out a couple of new flowers every year that you don’t see around the area, and this year the Pretty Much Picasso petunias will be new to the area,” Glazier said. In the greenhouse, the staff also grew red dragon wing begonias, white bacopa, diamond-frost euphorbia, and red and white super bells.
The collaboration between the grounds staff and the biology department has saved the University thousands of dollars. The grounds crew also has more control over their planting than ever.
The partnership has benefited the biology department, too. With a significant amount of added plant life growing in the greenhouse, the ecosystem has improved. “A greenhouse always works better when it’s full,” Fleming said.
Built in 2002 with the expansion of Olin Hall, the greenhouse is little known on campus. It is used for classes, as well as for student and faculty research. Located on top of the building, the greenhouse contains two large rooms, one of which is used by the groundskeepers, and many smaller rooms. Each room has lighting and temperature controls that can be changed to suit the needs of the project or research being done. There are also facilities for experiments, including a preparatory room where the experiments are set up, and several isolator chambers where they are conducted.
Watch "The Earth is Waking Up Again," a short documentary by ADAM BOCKLER ’11 about the new flowers on campus.