Sometimes thinking outside the box or, in this case, outside the garden can save plants from the landfill and help a beautification project on campus at the same time.
Recently, two construction projects in the area of Pascault Row — the installation of an electrical duct bank and the pending demolition of the Walter P. Carter Center to the south — presented the opportunity to save and reuse trees, shrubs, and ornamental grasses planted in those areas.
Thanks to the operations and maintenance department, a handful of magnolia trees, crepe myrtle, shrubbery, and ornamental grasses were transplanted from Pascault Row into two new garden areas on campus: the open space behind the Lexington Building and the area adjacent to the Pearl Street Garage.
‘Leave a Space Better Than We Found It’
Transplanting vegetation is not always an option because the items may have root systems that are not transplantable, plants may be too old, or they may not do well with different soil and lighting conditions. Steve Shipp, UMB assistant director of buildings and grounds, shepherded this project and noted that they were able to carry out the small enhancement projects by adding garden areas because the conditions were all conducive to transplanting.
He explained: “Sometimes some [plants] are just beyond our ability to transplant or would not do well if we moved them. In this case, we had an opportunity to do that by using plant material that we already had here on campus. The risk was worth taking because these plants would have otherwise been lost. The whole idea is to leave a space better than we found it.”
Shipp consulted with UMB architect Anthony Consoli, who sketched what the final gardens would look like and suggested removing a fence from a dumpster area to allow the foliage to create a natural screen adjacent to Pearl Street.
Responsibility to Our Environment
Vassie Hollamon, associate director of operations and maintenance, said, “As a [UMB] department, we have chosen to embrace our responsibility to the environment by expanding and improving what little green space we have. When presented with the opportunity to reuse plants, we found that it fit well with our understanding of the University’s responsibility to the environment. We do this by removing unnecessary impermeable surfaces and making the green spaces we have more attractive to both people and the urban ecosystem by adding plants whenever and wherever the budget will allow.”
The plan required the addition of only one new plant — a spruce tree — and saved greenery that would have gone into a dumpster. In keeping with the UMB Go Green initiative, this venture not only saved money, it also beautified the campus.
Hollamon added: “Reusing these existing plants was the right thing to do.”