Enthusiasm in spades: Dal shows its gardening talents at Halifax’s first Boots 'n' Blooms

Ryan McNutt - June 6, 2014

Team "Daisy Boots" hard at work during Boots 'n' Blooms Halifax (Danny Abriel photos)

They came wearing silly hats, decorative t-shirts and rubber boots of all sizes and colours. And while the well prepared among them came with gloves, the others left with more than their fair share of dirt under their fingernails.

About 70 staff and faculty spent a foggy and drizzly Wednesday morning working in the gardens in and around the Studley Quad as part of the Halifax campuses’ first Boots ‘n’ Blooms event.

Boots ‘n’ Blooms is an annual tradition on the Agricultural Campus — a day of “sweat equity” where the Ag community’s “green thumb” volunteers come together to freshen up many of the gardens around campus.

“We’ve been watching the Agricultural Campus have fun with this event for a few years now, and that’s one of the wonderful thing about a merger: you get to pick up new ideas,” explained Katherine Frank, assistant vice-president of Human Resources at Dalhousie.

The goal of the event, organized by Human Resources with the support of Facilities Management, was to give Dal employees a fun, team-building opportunity to play an active role in beautifying the campus. With silly names, like the “Bay City Bloomers” and “Best Buds,” and often sillier costumes — the Facilities crew even brought Newfoundland-inspired mummering “ugly sticks” — the teams showed great enthusiasm as they took to the flower beds.

A helping hand


The crews were set to weeding and cleaning up several of the gardens around the Studley Quad, including the not-yet-blooming rose bushes near Alumni Crescent, the flower beds alongside the Killam Library and the decorative planters around the University Club. The opportunity to work on the latter was a particular point of pride for Staci Stryde, who is currently completing a co-op term with the Sexton Library: she’s getting married at the University Club next weekend.

Photo essay: Green thumbs up!

The work was guided by members of Facilities Management’s Grounds Division. Mike Wilkinson, who oversees the division, couldn’t have been happier with how the morning went.

“I think it’s fantastic for everyone to come out and get their hands in the soil, and feel like they’re part of making the campus look good,” he said.

Dal’s grounds crew consists of 10 full-time staffers in Halifax, two of whom gardeners specifically. Wilkinson says that because spring comes late and suddenly in Halifax, Dal’s gardens can quickly get out of hand with weeds and other growth.

“For my guys, this is a huge help,” he said. “I’ve been walking around, looking at the crews, and the work they’ve been doing is fantastic.”

Style to spare


Despite the slightly wet weather through the morning, all the teams were in great spirits.

“We’re from the College of Sustainability: we like to play in the dirt,” said Debra Ross, captain of the college’s team.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Jennifer Morawiecki, captain of the Dalhousie Research Services team. “We are ‘digging deep’ to grow research at Dal,” she added with a smile.

Morawiecki’s team had reason to smile: it was selected by special guest Marjorie Willison, CBC Radio’s frequent gardening expert, as being the best dressed team for their snazzy hats and broaches. As for “best boots,” that award went to Joanne Martin from Human Resources. Both received plaques made from wood reused from trees harvested in the construction for the Ocean Sciences Building.

The day concluded with a lunch provided by the University Club and a gardening demonstration by horticulture graduate Stephen Cushing of the Office of Sustainability.

Look for the Ag Campus’ edition of Boots ‘n’ Blooms on Friday, June 13.

Photo essay: Green thumbs up!


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