The Coronavirus is impacting all of us in different ways and on a massive scale. Our deepest condolences go out to any and all that are struggling with this virus and the heart wrenching consequences of it. We appreciate the incredible dedication of the healthcare workers and others doing their best to provide for our communities. As members of the Facilities Department at Drury University the Grounds Crew qualifies as essential personnel. We will continue to work during this crisis. We fully recognize our work doesn’t compare to so many other fields directly fighting COVID19. All we can do is strive to do our best in our role. We every day take very seriously the recommended precautions to prevent transmission and to help flatten the curve. Our DEEPEST THANKS and BEST WISHES to all on the frontlines of this crisis.
Spring Will Be Online This Year
Everybody looks good in spring. After several months of winter weather, everyone (at least in parts of the country that have cold/snow) is ready for blooms, butterflies, and mild temps. Daffodils emerge and the turf starts to green up. As another growing seasons starts, flowers and fresh growth is everywhere. Nature provides this time of year with all the benefits that bolster the landscape. We have early season bloom ;species, warming soil temps, plentiful rainfall and the stark winter season passing by to provide contrast. A pervasive sense of optimism and rejuvenation makes even us groundskeepers see the beauty of the season. Spring has a lot going for it and for these reasons “everybody looks good in spring.”
Sharing the campus… virtually
Our campus has cancelled all seated classes and our students have moved out of housing. As approximately 90% of our campus community is remote, I am struggling with how to share the beauty of campus. Fortunately for us Drury Grounds has a robust, albeit not large, social media presence. In addition to our overall numbers, we have a core following that is very much engaged with the message and content we push out. So to try to keep our campus community engaged we are trying to increase the content and frequency. In spring, there are ample opportunities for posting the eye-candy that is so prevalent. These provide a means to share the landscape. Reminding people of the beauty of campus hopefully helps people remember a simpler time, and may provide welcome distraction from this serious situation.
Social media like Twitter, Instagram & Facebook can keep your community connected even while they are away.
New Growth Is Everywhere
All of us in the grounds industry frequently face a similar question. What do you do in the winter? I am not sure of the genesis of this question since no person I’ve ever known that “tills the earth” doesn’t spend the winter as busy as any other season. Maybe it just stems from the dormancy of plants in a temperate climate. Regardless, spring is a time for an amazing flush of new growth. Spring ephemerals and bulbs pop. Buds on trees and shrubs swell. The turf greens up and begins to elongate. After a winter spent waiting, everyone is eager for this spring bonanza. One of the best aspects of this time is the absolute prevalence of newness and rebirth. This flush of life isn’t just limited to plants and trees. The animals and insects that share our campus are awakening and their activity adds to the sense of restoration.
While spring bulbs are blooming the next rotation of flowers are growing alongside.
Spring Blooms Are Just the Start
Here in our landscape, our goal is to have something blooming on our campus at all times. Through smart landscape design and sound plant selection we are continually extending the color rotation. This isn’t as easy as it sounds though. So many of our horticulturally important plants are spring bloomers. This is especially true for trees and shrubs (these plants need to have longer periods to form viable fruit/seeds and need to before the usual onset of summer stress). Nature has preloaded spring flowers because it makes the most sense from a plant-species continuation perspective. In order to differentiate from other landscapes (sometimes that’s what it is about) we seek to use more or different plants in spring. We plant spring bulbs in large drifts in the turf/tree-rings, we mass flowering trees for increased impact, and select natives which are not as prevalent in the landscape trade. A spring flower blitz sets the bar high for the season and leads right into our season-long show.
A Spring Unlike Any Other
It is a shame that our campus community is not physically present this spring. We feel bad for all the students (think Freshmen, Seniors) that didn’t get to finish their once in a lifetime experience. We feel bad for the Drury Lady Panthers (nationally ranked #1 all season in NCAA D2 WBB) and how they won’t get to compete for a national championship. And of course, we feel bad for our community (and the Grounds Crew) for not getting to appreciate the campus landscape. But these are minor compared to where the world is at this moment. This COVID19 pandemic puts things in perspective. Appreciating spring remotely is nothing compared to the difficulties many people are facing. Our earnest hope is for better springs to come for everyone.
Massing trees, native plants, and less than common plants can help differentiate your spring.