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WVU’s Roads & Grounds workers aim to provide safe campus

MORGANTOWN — Roads & Grounds services range from plowing snow to repairing roads and sidewalks, installing drainage, pest control, cutting and fertilizing of turf, event setup, leaf removal and litter cleanup.

The goal of the workers is to make WVU’s campus a safe and aesthetically pleasing environment for all students, staff and visitors. The highly visible annual flower program receives much positive feedback and is one service that allows workers to showcase their skills.

The flower season normally starts with spring tulip displays. Tulips are planted the previous fall for spring color from March- April. They are not reliably hardy from year to year so they are treated as annuals.

Prior to spring commencement, crews remove the tulips and plant summer annual flowers throughout campus.

The summer annuals are a unique collaborative effort between Roads & Grounds, the WVU Evansdale Greenhouse and WVU students. A variety of flowers are  ordered and purchased  each fall.

They  are then planted, grown and cared for by a select group of graduate horticulture students at the green house until they are ready for planting.

The students are directed and assisted by Sven Verlinden and greenhouse Director Silas Childs.

This collaboration makes WVU’s flower displays truly West Virginia University-grown and nurtured. Flowers are  grown in the greenhouse specifically to suit West Virginia’s climate and installation timing needs.

Mums are sometimes planted as early as August so the campus has peak flowering appeal as students return for the fall semester. They are highly showy and colorful and also frost-tolerant. Each crop may only last six weeks, but by planting successive crops they normally last until Thanksgiving.

Flowering cabbage, kale and pansies are sometimes added in the fall to complement the mums. They are frost-tolerant, and if there is snow cover throughout the winter, they might flower again in the spring.

During winter, crews install evergreen roping, wreaths and decorative holiday arrangements, which are adorned with red, blue or gold bows and decorations.

They try to vary flower designs from year to year and use  blue and gold color themes if at all possible. Much effort goes into planting, fertilizing, watering and maintaining  campus displays, and the workers take great pride in the positive comments and recognition they receive.

They hope the hard work makes for brighter days for those who see the flowers.