The Oaklands, at the heart of Western Michigan University's campus, is a historic homestead built before the foundation of the University. Currently, the facility operates as a bed and breakfast and hosts gatherings both public and private. Landscape Services takes great pride in this beautiful site, maintaining century-old oak trees, annual and perennial gardens, and enhancing the visual appeal of this campus jewel for the enjoyment of the entire community.
The Western campus is beautiful at any time of year, but after a long Michigan winter the sight of flowering trees and bulbs makes the wait all worthwhile. This picture shows daffodils and a flowering cherry at their best outside Shaw Theatre.
Michigan winters can be beautiful but busy for landscape workers. Landscape Services is responsible for snow removal all across campus. Starting as early as 3 a.m. our crews are out keeping campus safe for the students, faculty and staff of WMU. Considered essential services, Landscape Services works whenever it is snowing, on weekends and even during the rare event when WMU closes for snow emergencies. This picture is captured at Goldsworth Valley Pond.
Our landscape staff starts work well before dawn. Grounds work is not for those who like to sleep in. Our crew meets every morning at 6 a.m. and starts cleaning campus before most students are awake. Western Michigan University's campus is a peaceful place before the start of the business day, hosting beautiful sunrises, wildlife on the move and the pleasant quiet of dawn. During snow events, the plow crew starts at 3 a.m. and works hard to clear 40 miles of sidewalks.
This is a photo of the Finch Greenhouse at Wood Hall. In recent years, Landscape Services has partnered with the Department of Biological Sciences' Finch Greenhouse to grow native plants, annuals and perennials for the campus landscape. The greenhouse also contains a conservatory of cacti, succulents, familiar tropical houseplants, orchids, bromeliads and more. While open to the public during the school year, please check with the Department of Biological Sciences for access and hours.
The first snow of the season tests the winter preparations of the landscape crew. As early as October, the staff prepares the annual snow book that outlines the who, what, where, when and why of our emergency plans. While trash remains a focus of our crew, snow and ice occupies much of the unit's resources. As an essential service here at WMU, Landscape Services is on call even when the University closes.
The Bernhard Center in the middle of campus serves multiple functions for the campus community. The building operates as a student union, dining facility, staff offices, meeting and event venue and houses the WMU Bookstore, Bronco Express, Bronco Card Center and Student Organization Center.
Unique landscape features add points of interest to the campus landscape and are fun to design and build. This feature, often called "stone hedge," at the base of The Oaklands along Hays Drive was built using stone removed from other campus sites under construction. Previously, this spot was a small lawn and trees were injured due to salt and plow damage from winter snow removal. The new installation using rock, native grasses and sedums is more salt tolerant, requires no irrigation and acts to filter storm water from surrounding impervious surfaces and snow piles.
Ornamental grasses are an important part of the Western landscape. Grasses are not just for mowing anymore; ornamental grasses are tough perennials that require minimal water, fertilizer and labor to maintain. Grasses in general are salt tolerant and provide landscape interest even in the middle of winter. Many varieties of grasses are used on campus, from dwarf plants less than a foot tall to giants over 10 feet. Every spring our staff cuts back the brown stalks to encourage the fresh green new growth.