About 600 native shrubs and 120 bunch grasses have been planted on the west-facing slope of the Burkhiser building over the past few weeks. The 11,000 square-foot plant bed was mulched with special shredded and chipped pine. The plants will be watered, in part, by snow and rain runoff captured in a 3,500-gallon cistern inside Burkhiser.
“We've been working toward this project for quite some time. Faculty, staff, and students all have worked together to create this newest teaching collection of plants,” said Lucinda Mays, campus horticulturist. She has two part-time student assistants who help her with the behind-the-scenes work of planting her designs.
The CSC maintenance staff with their heavy equipment support makes projects like Burkhiser possible. They deliver loads of compost and mulch and keep the irrigation systems around campus working efficiently. Mays said, “I’ve been working in botanical gardens since 1981 and I’ve never seen a crew that keeps their equipment in such good shape. They are very good stewards of state property.”
In March, Mays and a student spent two afternoons planting wildflowers along the trail from the softball field parking lot east on 12th Street toward the Rangeland Complex. Thousands of seeds were planted along both sides of the one-quarter mile trail. The student, Adam Bahl from Gering, Neb. had learned in a class with Dr. Chuck Butterfield that wildflowers and native forbs tend to take root in soft, disturbed soil.
“That is exactly what a gopher mound is. I ran into Lucinda while working at the Sandoz Center as grounds keeping help. She and I had done a lot of seed harvesting for the trail over the winter months. When we got out there to plant, the mounds sparked an idea of what I had learned and observed while hunting and doing field doing projects for land resources management,” Bahl said.
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