Trees, shrubs and flowers have the ability to transform a barren conglomeration of cement buildings and sidewalks into a learning environment bursting with color and texture.
Jennifer Johnson and Fred Haberecht, landscape architects for CSU, help achieve this transformation and bring the campus to life by choosing plants that will best accentuate the school’s natural beauty.
Johnson, who has been a landscape architect at CSU for four years, chose this year’s foliage and plants with input from the CSU grounds department. She said their main goal during the selection process was to bring something new and innovative to the current landscape design.
“For a while there it was kind of the same old, same old, and we wanted to do something really different this year,” she said.
One of these new innovations was the placement of plants called elephant ears underneath the row of trees that lines the plaza. Johnson said that she felt these were perfect for that location because elephant ears are a foliage plant that likes partial shade, yet are still noticeable to passersby.
Haberecht, who is beginning his second year as landscape architect for CSU, said that he thinks the current landscaping is a visible success.
“This year we really tried to make a conscious statement with annual color,” he said. “You’ll see lots of dramatic textural and color combinations that make a big statement.”
Kate McBride, a sophomore open option major said that the landscaping gives CSU a completely different feel.
“It is something that you don’t always consciously notice, but without it the campus wouldn’t be the same,” she said. “My favorite part of campus is the Oval, and it looks really great this year.”
Johnson is also pleased with the results of this year’s landscaping.
“The past couple year’s have been new and exciting,” she said. “They are definitely above average.”
Of course, the current drought conditions have created some difficulties as far as landscaping goes. Water use is one of the most important aspects considered when choosing the plants, Haberecht said.
“Water is always a big concern,” he said. “Turf is the biggest use of water. Shrubs and other materials are more water conserving than turf, but one of the selection criteria is always water use.”
The landscaping work at CSU is a yearlong process, with plants being chosen in the winter and nurtured in a nursery through the cold, frosty months, then planted on campus once warm weather makes an appearance.
“(The plants) are grown in a nursery in winter and planted in the spring,” Haberecht said. “By the time students come back to campus they are making a big splash.”