As people walk across campus they notice colorful leaves falling to the ground, squirrels gathering nuts and scenic beds of flowerbeds dotting the landscape with various colors. The hardest part about keeping the grounds is maintaining these pops of color throughout the seasons, but Virginia Springer, assistant grounds supervisor, spends most of her time doing just that.
Springer has been working at the university for 18 years and has a degree in horticulture from Purdue University. Her favorite type of plant is a perennial because it blooms every year.
She says she got her inspiration and love of flowers from her grandfather and his garden. In her eyes, she is in the Garden of Eden adding on to God’s already beautiful earth.
Along with other groundskeepers, Springer helps with campus events, landscaping and plants and maintains the flower beds. They work diligently and plan months ahead of time on when and where specific flowers will be planted.
They begin in the front of Main Hall and reach as far as Flowerhill. “We have 21 flower beds on campus,” said Springer. Since the campus has so many flower beds, a lot of thought goes into what flowers Springer should buy from a local wholesaler in Alabaster.
Before Springer can begin planting, she must carefully tend to the flower beds to determine what type of flower can grow there.
If the same flowers are planted in two different beds and one does not bloom, tedious work is done to find the source of the problem.
“When that happens, we look at the soil conditions to see if we have to till the soil or add compost or fertilizer,” said Springer.
Once the flowers are planted, Springer and her team have to maintain them by watering, pruning and fertilizing them throughout the seasons.
Since winter is coming, Springer and others will be planting purple and yellow pansies. They will also plant tulip bulbs so they will be in bloom by spring. They use other flowers in the summer, and Springer plants them all over as well. “With prepping the beds and getting them ready, it probably takes about two to three weeks,” said Springer.
Springer said she enjoys the commencement in May because she gets to use ferns and foliage plants from the greenhouse behind Flowerhill. “The flowers continue the vintage appeal,” said Springer.
Springer believes that flowers are a big part of our culture because our ancestors focused so much on making their yards beautiful with various plants. As Springer continues to plant flowers and add color to our campus, she said she hopes to put a smile people’s faces.