You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Maintaining Magnificence

The groundskeepers of the Mizzou Botanic Garden

  • 1 min to read
The groundskeepers of the Mizzou Botanic Garden

Even on a university campus designated a botanic garden — meticulously planned, planted, watered, weeded, cut and mulched — the shortest path from dorm to classroom can hide the patches of nature’s colors in plain sight. Even more hidden in plain sight are the groundskeepers. These workers move from shade to shade, keep the weeds out of plant beds, turn on drip lines, haul gallons of water to plant boxes, replant seasonal flowers, mow endless acres of grass and sweep up every leaf, twig and discarded wrapper that would make the scene less than ideal. This photographic essay is an invitation to walk a longer, slower route and to acknowledge the people and work that turn the journey itself into the destination.

Gage Bealmer, a junior studying business finance and economics at the University of Missouri and working part time as a groundskeeper

Gage Bealmer waters a row of zinnias, rhuellia, lantana, vinca and coleus flowers built into the retaining wall surrounding Truman Pond on July 19 outside MizzouRec. 

Colleen Thomas waters rows of potted cannas

Colleen Thomas waters rows of potted cannas and elephant ears June 1 in Greenhouse 23. Groundskeepers rotate tropical plants from the warm greenhouse in the cool months to planter boxes and plots around the campus in the warm months.

Andy Williams plants vinca

Andy Williams plants vinca, Mexican petunias and coleus between drip lines May 25 at the 8th Street Circle on MU's campus. Groundskeepers turn on the drip lines three times a week to keep the plants and flowers healthy. 

Nate Watlow rides a propane powered Turf Tracer

The statue of Beetle Bailey, a character created by cartoonist Mort Walker, looks on as Nate Watlow rides a propane powered lawn mower July 6 outside the Donald W. Reynolds Alumni Center. Groundskeepers mow 240 acres of grass each week.

Andy Williams, groundskeeper at the University of Missouri, plants lantana

Andy Williams plants lantana May 25 at the 8th Street Circle on MU's campus. Groundskeepers turn on drip lines three times a week to keep the plants and flowers healthy.

Andy Williams uses a leaf blower

Andy Williams uses a leaf blower to round up leaves, twigs and debris June 21 outside of Ellis Library.

Solomon’s Seal in a brick planter box enjoy a light rain

A light rain falls on a Solomon’s Seal plant May 27 outside the MU College of Engineering. In addition to meticulous care, the Mizzou Botanic Garden retains its status with identification markers for all plants and educational opportunities. 

Herman Klippel spreads a bale of pine straw

Herman Klippel spreads a bale of pine straw between two cypress trees July 13 outside the Turner Avenue Parking Structure. Pine straw is an alternative to mulch for preventing erosion on slopes and hillsides and provides a pleasing visual appeal.

Jennifer Smith waters tiger eyed sumac

Jennifer Smith waters tiger eyed sumac, milkweed, lantana and ipomea in a circular planter box July 6 outside the MU Student Center. The planter box is one of Smith's own designs. 

Gage Bealmer, a junior studying business finance and economics

Gage Bealmer waters plant boxes July 19 at Speaker’s Circle. Watering the plants of MU’s botanical garden requires transporting 200 gallons of water in a tank that is refilled ten times in a day, three times a week.

Jeremy Grasela stands in the basket of a Bill Jax lift

Jeremy Grasela stands in the basket of a lift as he cuts the limbs of a dying pine tree Aug. 16 outside MU’s Animal Science Research Center. In an average year, the groundskeepers remove 50 trees and plant between 150 and 200 trees.

Jeremy Grasela inspects tree limbs for cutting

Jeremy Grasela inspects tree limbs for cutting Aug. 16 outside Townsend Hall.

Gary Blakemore pulls up baby redbud trees

Gary Blakemore pulls up baby redbud trees and weeds Aug. 2 outside the Physics Building. Mizzou Botanic Garden grows many plants native to Missouri, but also plants native to other areas of North America, Europe and Asia.

Andy Williams, groundskeeper at the University of Missouri, rounds up leaves

Andy Williams rounds up leaves, twigs and debris scattered during a windstorm June 21 outside of Ellis Library. While most botanic gardens rely on advertising and promotion to bring visitors, the Mizzou Botanic Garden shows off to 31,121 enrolled students every day.

These photographs were made with Lensbaby lenses, which rotate in a ball and socket to alter the focus areas of the pictures. Working on this photographic essay, Cory MacNeil decided to use the Lensbaby because it allowed him to guide viewers’ attention to the work required to maintain a botanic garden while replicating the inconspicuousness of the groundskeepers.

A large-print gallery of MacNeil’s work will be on display Friday, coinciding with a 6 p.m. presentation by birding photographer Noah Strycker in the Monsanto Auditorium in MU’s Bond Life Sciences Center.

  • Tristen Rouse is a photo editor at the Columbia Missourian and contributor to its photo blog, The Method. He previously worked at the Missourian as a statehouse photojournalist. He can be reached via email at tjrggf@mail.missouri.edu.

  • I'm the Director of Photography working close with staff photographers, videographers, photo editors and designers to help our stories become visually exciting. Follow us on Instagram: comissourian

Recommended for you