Why I love my job: Mulch races

mulch races

One of our faculty in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University is Nina Bassuk. She’s the director of our Urban Horticulture Institute and knows more about how to choose and grow trees in cities than anyone else I know. She co-teaches a woody plant course along with her husband, Peter Trowbridge, who is a faculty member in landscape architecture.

The last few weeks, Nina and Peter’s students have been working on their final class project — installing a new planting along the north side of the Plant Sciences Building, right outside my office window. The new plantings — which feature mostly newer cultivars that are popular in the industry but not found elsewhere on campus — are replacing some old, scarggly yews and will serve as a living lab for future classes.

Lest you despair that youth today aren’t interested in plants, I live on another planet where 20-somethings are passionate about plants. They got a taste of the real world today, when the mulch deliverers dropped the mulch at some distance from where it was needed. There weren’t enough wheelbarrows to do the job. So they grabbed some rubber mats from the construction material lying around from the library renovation, made some twine handles, and races around with the mulch, making short work of it.

Does my heart good to see the joy with which they go about their work.

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4 thoughts on “Why I love my job: Mulch races”

  1. I need some of those students to help me. I remember a couple of “projects” when I was a hort major at Purdue that involved us students doing work for professors like that!

  2. Actually, it’s more like the professors going the extra mile for the students. It would be a lot easier for Nina and Peter to pull together a couple more lectures. But instead, they work with the students to plan each year a real-life project somewhere on campus. And it’s a joy for me to see how the students respond to this kind of learning activity — blowing off a little steam around finals time.

  3. Serendipity! A google search for Janis Ruksans’ bulb nursery in Latvia leads to a website called Ellis Hollow, a place I visited (physically) in October (for the first time in over 20 years), to Nina Bassuk, who awarded me a NYC ‘citizen pruner’ certificate at the NYBG 21 years ago, and to Peter Trowbridge, who welcomed me back to Cornell in October 2007.
    I was an undergraduate history major in 1983 when a well-placed flyer in Dr Mauer’s woody plant identification class (and Bokonon’s teaching: ‘peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God’) resulted in me spending the year after graduation at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Demonstration Gardens at Wisley, and on the ‘Design Coordination Team’ of the National Garden Festival ’86 at Stoke-on-Trent. As an ISA Certified Arborist, the title ‘mulch races’ naturally caught my eye. I’ll be a regular here now! Thanks Craig.

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