Planning, planting and caring for annual gardens on campus is one of the joys of working in Landscape Services at Western Michigan University. The French Hall bed occupies a highly visible spot along Western Avenue. Each season different annuals are chosen for this site to provide an exciting view for residents and visitors alike. In this photo, State Fair Zinnias were used for a dramatic effect.
Color is everywhere on campus during the long days of summer. Many gardens feature perennial flowers that put on a welcome show year after year. This picture shows New England aster (purple) and a variety of rudbeckia (brown and gold), a favorite perennial to showcase Western's school colors. This picture was taken in the Lot 23 stormwater pond south of the Elmwood Apartments.
Trees are an essential part of the Western landscape. As one of the first "Tree Campus USA" universities in Michigan, we are committed to tree health, tree diversity and education regarding the importance of trees. This is an early spring picture of a century-old bur oak in the Davis Hall courtyard. This massive tree predates the founding of WMU in 1903. Landscape Services has two full-time arborists on staff and several other union and management staff members with tree-related certification.
Native plants at work: The unmowed boarder of the Goldsworth Valley Pond acts to filter stormwater, remove nutrients, prevent erosion and provide habitat for many species of campus wildlife. Planted back in the 1990s with a diverse community of plants native to Michigan, this area represents Western's commitment to resource sustainability and alternative landscape design.
Campus is home to many native plants and animals. Jack in the pulpit (arisaema triphyllum) bloom every spring in the moist woods around the Valley residence halls. This species has an interesting life strategy; all immature plants start out as males. Once plants have gained some size and age they switch to female plants and produce bright red berries. When times are tough, plants can switch back to males. While also called Indian turnip, and if cooked properly can be eaten, raw plants can cause severe pain.
Not all plants are welcome additions to the WMU landscape. As good environmental stewards of the WMU landscape, we work to improve the quality and sustainability of the environment. Exotic plants like Japanese knotweed (polygonum cuspidatum) have fallen out of favor due to their invasive nature. This hillside between Western View Apartments and Kohrman Hall is exclusively knotweed. As part of our Landscape Master Plan, areas like this are targeted for invasive plant removal and improvement as time, money and labor allow.