Theme Gardens at Western Kentucky University
by Christian Ryan-Downing

The Western Kentucky University (WKU) campus features an abundance of green space consisting of lawn and gardens. In fact, the attractiveness of the WKU campus is cited by incoming students as the number one reason for choosing WKU. The “WKU Garden Crew,” a group of student-employees overseen by Department of Facilities Management, is responsible for preparation, installation, and maintenance of the gardens.

The Garden Crew has created several theme gardens on campus, including habitat gardens for butterflies and hummingbirds, as well as an herb garden. The Butterfly Garden is used as a learning garden and was established at the request of a biology faculty member who, along with the Biology Department and the Tri-Beta biology club, donated funds for the garden.

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Butterfly lighting in WKU’s Butterfly Garden.
Photo courtesy of Jim Button.
 

The Hummingbird Garden was also created with support from a faculty member. The Herb Garden, located just outside of the student center and from which the campus community can pick fresh herbs, was funded by WKU Dining Services provider, Aramark. Pesticides are banned in and near all of the theme gardens. The WKU Garden Crew plans to create a songbird garden that will feature berry-bearing plants to attract the birds, and rain gardens to catch and filter campus stormwater runoff.

Christian Ryan-Downing is the WKU Sustainability Coordinator, Campus Operations and can be reached at: ryan-downing@wku.edu.

 
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