Horticulture Students Develop Landscape Planting Designs for Wildwood Grounds

Photo of Wildwood.

Wildwood is one of the oldest university president’s homes in existence today and has served as the residence for the families of eight presidents of Southeast Missouri State University.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

June 1, 2006 – Built in the early 1800s, Wildwood is one of the oldest university president’s homes in existence today and has served as the residence for the families of eight presidents of Southeast Missouri State University.

This past semester, a group of Southeast horticulture students set their sights on improving the grounds surrounding the home – which abound with flowering shrubs and fruit trees, wildflowers and wildlife — for many decades to come.

A group of students in Horticulture 330: Landscape Planting Design spent the spring semester developing new landscape designs for trees, plants, flowers and shrubs surrounding the Wildwood grounds on the north end of the campus.

Dr. James McCrimmon, assistant professor of agriculture at Southeast and instructor for the course, said the project was the result of another horticulture class he taught two years ago. That class assisted Southeast’s Facilities Management employees with general cleanup around the home, mulching and pruning of trees. At the conclusion of that class, several students expressed an interest in doing something more to improve the shrubs and flowers surrounding the home, he said.

Many of those same students were enrolled last semester in the Horticulture 330: Landscape Planting Design course. Students in the class were charged with developing three possible plans for landscape design improvements, McCrimmon said. The plans they developed called for adding more plant material with color year-round on the grounds along with planting new trees, shrubs and flowers, and pruning some existing trees. The students also researched prices for materials and developed a budget.

Their designs call for the addition of azaleas, Japanese Blood Grass, purple cone flowers, coreopsis, irises, periwinkle, day lilies and Stella day lilies. Their plans also call for planting begonias, tansies, crocus, boxwoods, black-eyed Susans, lavender and Japanese maples. They also incorporated some native plants, McCrimmon said.

“Their designs blew me away,” he said. “It’s really impressive. The group did a super job. They got a practical application of a real-world situation. Their designs were just incredible.”

McCrimmon said the students also developed ideas for plant cover to help prevent erosion on the side and back side of the home.

“The goal of the class was to complete a project from start to finish and see a project through to fruition,” he said.

The students did just that. At the end of the semester, the students presented their three designs to Southeast President Kenneth W. Dobbins and his wife, Jeanine. Although the Dobbins family does not reside in the restored Wildwood home, they host many University events and activities there throughout the year.

“The president and his wife were thoroughly impressed,” McCrimmon said.

President Dobbins has now asked the students to develop a final landscape design plan, incorporating ideas from each of the three proposals. McCrimmon says some of the students will modify the designs over the summer with the hopes of actually beginning planting of trees, flowers and shrubs in the fall as part of an undergraduate research project. New students in Horticulture 130 will assist with labor, planting and pruning, he said.

McCrimmon says he expect the work to take about a year to complete.