What do Bell Gardens do during the winter?
Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, the W. J. Beal Botanical Gardens are a collection of nearly 1,800 native and non-native plants of great interest in the research or teaching of plant species. The group and its caretakers are committed to educating people about the importance of plant species, both native and non-native.
However, during the winter months, the parks are covered in snow and ice, Just like any other surface on campus. This begs the question: What do botanical gardens do during the winter?
Katie Fry, the gardens’ collections manager, explained that about 200 plants are being dug up in preparation for winter. These 200 trees were chosen because they are not hardy enough to withstand Michigan’s climate, otherwise they would need to be replanted in the spring.
“We’ll dig them up, take them into a greenhouse and replant them in their pots,” Fry said. “We also cut and collect seeds.”
These plants are then transported to the Beaumont Arboretum, which houses and processes all trees grown by MSU on campus, where they will remain until the spring semester.
Plants that are not dug up in gardens are left to remain dormant over the winter. These are native perennials that have evolved to adapt to Michigan’s climate. However, there are some non-native perennials that are able to survive Michigan winters.
Research continues through the winter in the form of collecting data for educational purposes about plants.
“Every plant in the garden is tracked for physical characteristics such as height, petals, seed type, color and structure as well as the plant’s provenance and habitat conditions,” Fry said.
In keeping with the education theme, the parks also run programs during the winter aimed at educating the MSU community.
The Gardens hosts a weekly “Lunch and Learn” webinar to discuss plants related to that week’s theme. Webinars run from 12:10 to 1:00 PM every Wednesday.
The Gardens also collaborate with the Broad Art Museum to present educational and related exhibitions intended to showcase the Garden’s collection and significance.
One such exhibit, “Bell Botanical Garden: Celebrating 150 Years of People, Plants and Place,” aims to showcase the history and evolution of the gardens into a campus landmark.
The other is called “Deep Rooted” and is a series of guided tours led by Maeve Bassett, Beal Garden’s Director of Education. This guided tour will showcase the relationship between humans and plants as it addresses topics such as the historical and social narratives surrounding plants.
The tour runs from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM and registration is done on the Beal Garden website, where patrons can see the remaining tour dates.
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