Sep 072004
Authors: Clarke Reader

Just a short walk from Edwards, Ingersoll and Summit residence halls lies one of CSU’s best-kept secrets: the W.D. Holley Plant Environmental Research Center.

From the outside, the Plant Environmental Research Center (PERC) appears to be a park, with cement paths and rules about visiting hours and remaining on the walkways, but it is not a park at all.

“PERC’s purpose is threefold: research, teaching and cooperative extension or service,” wrote Jim Klett, director of PERC, in an e-mail interview. “It is used for teaching for many horticulture classes especially plant material courses.”

PERC is just one of the tools that the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture uses to educate its students.

It may seem that PERC is a single garden, but in fact it is divided into three.

“There are the perennial and annual gardens, as well as the arboretum,” said David Staats, research associate for the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. “The arboretum has around 11,000 types of trees and shrubs in it. The perennial garden has around 800 herbaceous flowers, and the annual (garden) has around 1,000.”

Besides being a place to take a walk, PERC also is used by the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture to help students.

“Students use PERC to gain practical knowledge about all aspects of horticulture. We also hire a lot of work study students during the academic year at the Center to help them gain practical experience,” Klett wrote.

Zack Weinberg, a senior business management major, works at the center.

“I work in the arboretum and work to maintain new trees,” Weinberg said. “A lot of what we do is mowing the grass near the trees and pulling weeds around them. Basically just maintain their look.”

PERC is open everyday from sunrise to sunset and closed after dark. Persons on the grounds after hours will be subject to arrest for trespassing, according to a posted sign near the building.

“This is an educational and research center, not an active park,” Klett wrote.

In addition, there are no sports activities allowed, all dogs must be leashed and children must be accompanied by an adult.

All of this is done to maintain the condition of the center.

“PERC is important because we probably couldn’t have a landscape program without it,” Staats said. “There are some things you just can’t learn from a book.”

Websites for more information on PERC and the plants in it:

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