Fanshawe's Foliage Is a Living Lab
Did you know that Fanshawe's London campus gardens are cared for by students? This year, over 70 Horticulture Technician students will plant and prune the shrubs and flowers all around campus. And with more than 100,000 plants belonging to over 2,500 species, that's a big task!
Fanshawe's Horticulture students - like Melissa Sparling, at right - create demonstration gardens, using the landscape of the entire campus to learn about the needs of different plants, and to show just what they're capable of. Some of the flora attracts butterflies, while some smells like tangy spices. Some - like the crocus that are just starting to show - flower in seasons opposite to most of their relatives (autumn vs. spring). Behind the M-H link, there are three Baldcypress trees native to southern Florida swamps.
Many of the plants belong to threatened or endangered species. One tree - the Dawn Redwood, planted behind Residence - was thought to be extinct because it was only found in fossils until 1942, when a living specimen was discovered in China; now our students care for one here in London. The world's most northerly Ben Franklin tree grows here too.
The Horticulture Technicians in training also build and maintain hardscapes (like brick patios, sidewalks, and retaining walls) and they also care for the College's collection of indoor potted plants that you see in offices, halls, lounges, and cafeterias. Generally speaking, it's a win-win partnership: Fanshawe provides the materials and opportunity for hands-on learning, the students provide the labour, and everyone gets to see the beautiful blooms that decorate our lawns and sidewalks as a result.
While the students spend up to 80% of their time (roughly 1500 hours each year) getting their hands dirty outside of the classroom in the 100-acre 'living lab' that is the Fanshawe campus, some of that work also takes place off-campus. At the A.M. (Mac) Cuddy gardens in Strathroy, which were donated to the College by the Cuddy family, the students maintain Ontario's largest Carolinian garden. Back at home, the students also spend time in the greenhouse, growing rare tree seedlings to be planted on the College grounds.
And don't forget about Fanshawe's first green roof, installed this summer by... you guessed it: Horticulture Technician students (working for their co-op in this case). Located above Room D1063, where hundreds of sedum - a drought-resistant perennial ground cover - now occupy over 850 square feet of rooftop space, the green roof is one of only a handful of its kind in the city. Interested in seeing the new rooftop green space? You can get a look at it through the window glass in the second floor A-D link.
So, next time you walk past one of the gardens on campus, take a minute to appreciate the buds
and blooms you see all around. You'll actually be admiring the projects some of our students work
on as part of their education here at Fanshawe College... and besides, it's always good to stop
and smell the roses!