Campus gardens prepare for plant tour
Benjamin Cuddeback started visiting the MSU Horticulture Gardens on the corner of Bogue Street and Wilson Avenue during his breaks from classes.
Cuddeback, a horticulture senior, said he liked the gardens so much he decided he wanted to become a summer intern. After landing the position, he has been able to help prepare for the 8th annual Michigan Garden Plant Tour.
“We are watering every day, weeding everyday and making sure everything looks pristine,” he said. “It will be nice to see a lot of smiling faces around here.”
Katie McCarver, the annual trial garden manager at MSU gardens, said the tour has seven stops in Michigan that run from the Grand Rapids area to the Detroit area from Aug. 1-12. The idea is for plant producers and MSU to display and promote both new and old plants on the market.
Although the tour is catered more toward landscapers, greenhouse growers and nurserymen, the various stops now are more open to the general public, she said. What makes the display at the MSU gardens unique is that it is unbiased — staff are not trying to sell the plants on display but instead show them off.
Director of MSU gardens Art Cameron said a couple thousand people participate in the plant tour, and more than 75 greenhouses are involved. Other stops that are commercially oriented just have the plants set up in rows. At MSU, there are about 600 plants on display.
“Ours are set in a garden setting. … They are absolutely knockout gorgeous,” he said.
Cameron said planting began in the winter months and continued into March and April by a staff that includes undergraduates and interns. Because of the rain and weather patterns this year, the months of May and June were a challenge.
Despite the weather, the plants still have turned out because of the devotion and care of the staff, he said.
Although some of the tour sites are not open to the public after Aug. 12, the gardens at MSU are open from dawn to dusk all summer. Admission is free.
“It’s basically a great place to come and relax and come and check out the different events that we have going on,” McCarver said.
Cuddeback said it’s important for people to know the gardens are there. Because the gardens are on the southeast side of campus, they’re out of the way for most students, he said.
“We do get a lot of people, but it would be nice to see a lot more people here on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
Apart from the gardens being a quiet place for someone to unwind, there also is a children’s garden and lots of things for them to do, Cuddeback said.
Cameron said the MSU display gardens are both nationally and internationally recognized. People come from in state and out of state to see and learn about the plants.
“Some of the gardens can be quite fascinating for anyone who enjoys plants and hasn’t really seen displays like that,” Cameron said. “You don’t have to be a plant geek to come enjoy the plants.”