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Campus landscaping crews keep flowering plots vibrant year round

Campus flowers and landscaping scenes,
Campus landscaping, photo Patrick Sweeney

Tall canna lilies rise above trailing ivy. Geraniums and marigolds peek through coleus leaves splotched in shades of green and red. The 13 flowering pots dotted around campus, combined with the flower ‘B’ and the annual beds at the B Plaza give the university landscaping crew a canvas to combine plants of different colors and textures throughout the year.

Linda Williams has worked at Boise State for 15 years and has tended to the flowering pots and annual beds over the seasons.

When deciding what to plant in these areas, Williams said she looks for “survivability and visual impact.”

“The geraniums at the admin B and flower B were selected for their orange color, as well as tolerance to overhead watering,” she said. “They are also cold and heat tolerant, and have been planted in 40 degree temperatures, and they still thrive when it is in the 100s.”

When assembling plantings for the pots, Williams considered height, color, texture variation, successive blooming and filling the pot with visual interest in all seasons.

“Spring pots are planted with pansies until early May, then they are changed out for summer plants,” she said. “Trailing plants, such as ivy or dichondra, are good to plant in the spring too. By late summer they are mature and add visual interest to fall and winter plantings. Summer sees a lot of flowering annuals, then the fall and winter plantings are a mix of ornamental kale, grasses and trailing plants.”

Idaho’s weather can be an obstacle for the crews, but they try their best to use pants suited to the particular locations.

“It is a challenge to have the pots and annual plantings installed and looking acceptable for early spring events like Bronco Day and spring commencement,” Williams said. “Idaho’s fluctuating weather is not always conducive to annual plantings in early spring.”

Conversely, challenges on the other end of the weather spectrum means keeping annuals happy through the heat of summer, so the plant types depend upon the location of the pots.

“South extreme heat requires heat tolerant types and shaded areas are better to grow begonias and coleus,” she said. “I also avoid high maintenance types of annuals whenever possible.”

“Linda, and the whole crew, do such a great job keeping these pots looking good all year round,” said Gabe Bishop, manager of landscape services. “The plantings really add visual impact and textural interest, complementing the amazing greenery all over campus.”

– By George Thoma