Campus shines in a blaze of colors

May 4, 2021

Campus Life

Campus is once again blooming with a blaze of colors from thousands of tulips and flowering trees.

Last year, the University was named the nation’s No. 1 “most beautiful campus” in the Princeton Review’s latest 2021 college guide. The Collegiate Gothic architecture and the meticulously landscaped grounds are a major source of pride among faculty, staff, and students alike — and a major attraction for potential students and their families.

Earning that distinction doesn’t happen overnight. The University Facilities’ landscape services team works year-round to keep it at its best.

The department is responsible for the maintenance of 378 acres that comprise the University campus, including 170 acres of turf, 21 acres of parking lots, 2.5 acres of walkways, the 16 main flowerbeds, and Westhampton Lake. The crews also fill baskets and flowerpots around campus and plant around flag poles and walls.

“Spreadsheets are our friend,” said Allison Moyer, associate director of landscape services and horticulture, as she showed off her color-coded spreadsheet. “I make a list of everything.”

In December, the team orders flowers for spring and summer. In June they order the bulbs that will be planted in the fall. “We are constantly testing out plants to see what works and what doesn’t,” Moyer said. “We are looking for plants that are drought and heat tolerant.”

While the crew likes to switch up what it plants each year, much of the decision around the plantings is based on choosing colors that will show up against the red brick of the campus buildings and accent the architecture.

Each year landscaping orders about 25,000 bulbs direct from Holland to be planted across campus. When the blooms fade, they are replaced with annuals, keeping the campus looking gorgeous for graduation and over the summer — and for campus tours that take place throughout the year.

This past year has been different, though. Because of the pandemic and with no graduation on campus in 2020, landscaping left the bulbs in the ground in almost all of the beds. They expect that not all of the bulbs will bloom, but that there will only be a slight reduction in blooms. “Hopefully it’s not noticeable,” Moyer said.

The department is proud of the national recognition of its grounds and the role it plays in a student’s decision to attend the University of Richmond. “If you look at the big picture, the landscape is a piece to the whole,” Moyer said. “Students look at the landscape and the architecture as part of their decision-making process. We don’t want to give the wrong impression.”