By: Cory William Berlekamp
All around Findlay’s campus one can see a variety of trees, shrubberies, and flower beds highlighting the walkways and entrances to the buildings. But there has been another type of annual spotted outside of buildings like Henderson and Egner; artificial flowers to be exact.
According to Orion Jones, Director of the Physical Plant, these new beds were a creative solution to tackling the campus’s landscaping with a smaller team.
“I had six groundworkers and I had one retire so that turned into five grounds workers,” Jones said. “With five groundworkers and 185 properties, it is not an efficient way to do business. I got a lot of calls in regards to the weeds growing up on Howard Street and Defiance, again with five workers we weren’t keeping up.”
For him, it was a decision of coming up with a lasting solution for a growing problem.
“When I got the call at the Henderson Dining Hall that there was overgrowth, we ripped all the horticulture there; we laid down landscape fabric, we put down river rock, and I originally had some fake flowers put in,” said Jones. “I wanted to try and test the waters and I don’t think that was the right place to test the waters at.”
After some kick back about the plastic flowers, Jones replaced the plastic flowers in front of the dining hall with real ones and explained where the Physical Plant focuses their energy on campus.
“Our main areas; at the bell tower, at the front entrance of campus, obviously around the Henderson Dining Hall, but I think that there are still more strategic ways that we can keep color and life on our campus and not have to have the volume of flowers that we have,” said Jones. “I want to be clear, I love the flowers and I love horticulture but I don’t have the resources to be able to maintain them or we are sacrificing in other areas.”
According to Jones, there is just not enough manpower and the constant attention of flower beds around campus stretches his team thin.
“The bottom line is, over the fourth of July weekend, we spent 47 hours watering flowers,” said Jones. “If you give me 15 groundworkers, the sky is the limit, whatever your heart desires. But with a limited amount of resources, I have to figure out how to be resourceful.”
There are all sorts of ways that one can landscape on a budget. According to the website Budget Dumpster’s article, 10 Ideas for Backyard Landscaping on a Budget, one of those ways is using stone as a mulch alternative. Jones agrees by saying that having to buy and lay mulch every year costs money and manpower which he says he can use in other places.
Not all of the plastic flowers on campus were put there by the Physical Plant. The artificial flowers on the back entrance of Egner were placed there by the hands of another group.
“It is a low traveled area and not a place that we need to be spending an hour or two a week by any means with five groundworkers,” said Jones. “I took out everything right there and somebody else was kind enough to put a couple of colorful plants back there for me.”