The Highlander

Spring Finally Blooms

Michael Murphy, Reporter

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Grounds crews are starting to plant flowers around campus to recreate the famously beautiful campus scenery. 

Students are finding colorful flowers throughout the grounds. Grounds manager Laurie Finnegan and staff plant marigolds every spring.

“They are yellow, so they are a school color,” Finnegan said.

Marigolds are also resistant to plant-eating animals.

“Animals don’t seem to want to bother with them as far as woodchucks, rabbits and deer,” she said.

Staff also plant geraniums and other varieties of flowers along the water feature, a popular area. The flowers are supplied by Darling’s, a local farm market  near Dallas High School. 

The plants are bee and butterfly friendly. 

“We try to be as bee and butterfly friendly as possible,” said Finnegan.

Last year, staff planted perennials in front of Banks and on the side of Campus Ministry. There are several butterfly bushes in that area and two hibiscus plants, some Iris and lots of Coreopsis.

The bees favor the cat mint.

“We had a swarm of honeybees come to campus last year too. It was pretty amazing,” Finnegan said.

People spotted the swarm of bees hanging on the batting cage net at the softball field.  Even from a distance, Finnegan was able to tell that it was a swarm of honeybees.

“I was so happy they felt at home on our campus,” she said.

A new landscape is also in the works for the arch area. When the arch was repaired last year, crews removed all the plants.  Which pants will decorate the area is still undetermined.

Mulch, however, is already everywhere. Finnegan recommends putting down as little as possible so it can decompose. The mulch is black, the darkest dyed type available.

“I think it looks sharp when we put the mulch down every year.”

The winter-spring transition is usually tough, and spreading the mulch can be difficult with the unpredictable weather.  

“There have been times when we wheeled through snow to put mulch down. It’s super inconvenient.”

Groundskeeper Rich Walker recalls battling snow while spreading mulch in the flower beds.

“We had to rake the snow out of the beds to be able to mulch,”Walker said. 

Walker also remembers having to deal with snow not long before spreading mulch.

“A couple days before, we had to plow.  It was not easy,” says Walker.

Crews spend warm days before spring pulling leaves out of every shrub in an effort to get as much cleanup done as possible so  edging and mulching  could take place. 

“As much as we could get done now is very helpful when we really start kicking into high gear for commencement” says Finnegan.

Keeping the campus free of garbage is another challenge. Crews aim to keep campus clean all the time, especially for commencement.

Common litter includes coffee cups and cough drop wrappers. A lotof garbage emerges after the snow melts.

 “There is lots of garbage laying around,” Walker said.

Crews spend lots of time maintaining machines, getting them ready for spring. Tasks include changing air filters, oil filters air cleaners and fuel filters.

Sharpening blades on tractors and maintaining chain saw blades is another essential part of machine maintenance this time of year.

Making sure that banners are secure is  important, too, especially on windy days.

“We’ve been checking zip ties on all our banners and wind screens around the tennis courts and the baseball and softball fields,” Finnegan said. 

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Spring Finally Blooms