Volunteers beautify campus gardens

Monday, April 24, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:06 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 26, 2008

If you have a green thumb, there is a place you can go to make it happy: the Mizzou Botanic Garden.

Volunteers are welcome to help out in the “14 established gardens and on the three Tree Trails that are the current configuration of the Mizzou Botanic Garden,” said Pete Millier, director of landscape services and the Mizzou Botanic Garden.

“I think that the most enjoyable aspect that can be derived from the volunteers’ experience is that their efforts helped to make something better for others to enjoy,” he said. “Volunteers that work in the botanic garden of our campus can also look at their efforts and see tangible results in a more beautiful garden.”

“My major reason to volunteer is to learn more about plants and gardens, which the landscape employees have been very willing to share and teach us,” said Hsiao-Mei Wiedmeyer, volunteer coordinator for the Master Gardener’s program.

Wiedmeyer has volunteered to help out in the Mizzou Botanic Garden for the past three years. “It has been a great experience,” she said.

Volunteer gardeners can expect to prune, weed and clean up flower beds, Millier said. MU students are also welcome to volunteer, Millier said. “We do employ several students on a part-time basis through the year and would welcome student volunteers, but we recognize that time is a precious commodity for them,” he said.

People can be not only full-time volunteer gardeners but also on-call volunteers.

“At this time the on-call volunteers are those that work as docents (tour guides) or when there is a special event that we need some help with,” for example, handing out information during campus or garden events, Millier said.

Docents must have knowledge and enthusiasm about plants and be willing to share what they know with others, he said.

“A typical tour will have 15 to 30 visitors,” Millier said. “Approximately 10 to 15 tours have been given in a year for parts of the botanic garden. This includes only formally organized tours that are led by a docent.”

Self-guided tours of the tree trails on campus can be taken using a booklet, “Tree Trails of the University of Missouri–Columbia.” Copies of that booklet and other printed garden information can be picked up at the Reynolds Alumni Center, Jesse Hall visitor’s desk, the General Services Building and the Landscape Services office, Millier said.

“The best times to tour the campus are spring and fall,” he said. “The spring tours feature new growth on all of the trees and an abundance of vibrant, flowering shrubs. The fall tours highlight the annual fall tree colors. Both seasons have outstanding weather and that is a plus.”

If someone can only visit the campus during the summer or winter, there are highlights of touring during these times, too.

“Summer tours, if you can survive the heat, feature the lush, tropical plantings that are the hallmark of the campus in warm weather,” Millier said. “I enjoy winter tours because the weather is crisp and you can see the buds growing on all of the spring flowering trees and shrubs. Winter is also a wonderful time to bird watch on the campus, and with no leaves on most of the trees, the beautiful architecture of the buildings is more visible.”

People interested in volunteering for the Mizzou Botanic Garden can call David Massey at 884-7597.

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