Students in Alfred University biology class plant ‘shade garden’ behind Science Center
A group of students of Alfred University biology professor Cheryld Emmons spent a day this week creating a “shade garden” behind the Science Center consisting of plants indigenous to Western New York and the Alfred area.
ALFRED, NY – A group of students of Alfred University biology professor Cheryld Emmons spent a day this week creating a “shade garden” behind the Science Center consisting of plants indigenous to Western New York and the Alfred area.
The students, from Emmon’s physiological plant ecology class, spent three hours Tuesday planting about 25 plants in a garden bed they created behind the rear entrance to the Science Center.
“This garden was planned due to my desire to educate the Alfred community about native plants and beautify a space on campus that needed attention,” Emmons commented. Among the 16 species represented in the garden are Christmas fern, trillium and a variety of violets. The plants came from Emmons’ garden at her home in Alfred and from various locations on the Alfred University campus, “so we know they are able to survive the local climate, pest, and soil conditions.”
The plants thrive in shaded areas, like that behind the Science Center, blossoming from early spring into the fall. According to Emmons, one of the goals of the project is to educate the public about plants native to the area, and the important role they play in regional ecology.
“These plants provide a food base for native pollinators (bumble bees, certain flies) that rely on them for their nutrients,” Emmons said. She noted that the health of native local plants can impact that of plants purchased at nurseries, as insects that pollinate local plants will also visit non-native species.
“These plants have beauty in their own right,” Emmons said of plants indigenous to the area, including those in the shade garden. “We want to teach people (garden plants) don’t have to come from Lowe’s or the nursery.”
The four students who assisted Emmons in planting the garden were: Colin Kingsbury, senior biology and environmental studies major from Wilmington, NC; Jake Passmore, senior biology major from East Aurora, NY; Madison Glowacki, senior biology major (psychology minor) from Baldwinsville, NY; and Austin Aiken, junior chemistry major (biology minor) from Cincinnatus, NY.
Emmons said the class plans to create a brochure containing images and a description of each plant in the garden. The garden will be maintained regularly, with new species potentially being planted in the spring.