MSUToday
Published: May 14, 2019

Gardens give employees chance to enjoy outdoors

Contact(s): Maddie Curley University Communications office: 517-355-4082 curleym@msu.edu

MSU faculty and staff have a unique opportunity to enjoy an outdoor lunch break walking through the many beautiful outdoor spaces and gardens on campus, including the seven-acre Horticulture Gardens near the Plant and Soil Sciences building.

The Horticulture Gardens include five unique spaces: the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden, the Amien Carter Annual Garden, the Judith A. DeLapa Perennial Garden, the Vegetables and Insect Pollinators Garden and the Frank’s Nursery and Crafts Rose Garden. There are also seven additional acres across the railroad tracks that make up the Clarence E. Lewis Landscape Arboretum, which includes Japanese and English gardens, fruits displays and a small native-plant prairie.

A combination of four full-time staff, student employees and volunteers maintain the gardens — and the thousands of plants that live in them — throughout the year. In the annual garden, where plant trials are conducted, staff are responsible for planting an average of 30,000 plants every year.

Kristin Getter, assistant professor and director of the MSU Horticulture Gardens, began her career at MSU in 2011 as an MSU Extension educator after receiving her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from MSU. In 2015, she became an academic specialist in the Department of Horticulture and was appointed assistant professor and director of the gardens in August 2018.

“I feel so blessed to get to come into work every day and talk about plants,” Getter explained. “MSU Horticulture is the first and largest program of its kind in the county, so this is a dream job for me.

“The transition from Extension educator to assistant professor was natural for me,” she said. “Teaching others about plants is my passion, and I am grateful to split my time between working with students and overseeing the gardens.”

Operational expenses for the gardens are largely self-funded; roughly one-third are covered by an endowment and the rest through fundraising efforts. The Horticulture Department also offers several community gardening classes throughout the year and hosts two annual plant sales. The annual houseplant and succulent sale occurs in the fall, and outdoor/landscaping plants are offered during the spring sale.

According to Getter, August is the peak of the gardens, when everything is in bloom, and she encourages faculty and staff to visit during this time. The gardens are free and open daily from sunrise to sundown, and there are several employee parking lots located nearby. The gardens celebrated their 25th anniversary at their current location in 2018.

Visit go.msu.edu/Q8H to learn more about the gardens.