While students and faculty were busy working on mid-term papers and tests, Newman University Head Groundskeeper Darrin McKim was tackling a major project of his own. He was planting 5,000 flower bulbs – 2,000 red tulips, 2,000 grape hyacinth and 1,000 paper whites.
It took three and a half weeks and some “sore knees” to finish planting all the bulbs but he said his efforts will be worth it for the Newman campus.
“We did something similar three years ago, planting 3,000 and this time I decided to do 5 (thousand). If weather cooperates they should come up for graduation in the Spring,” McKim said.
The majority of the bulbs were planted along the main north-south walkway through the middle of campus and both sides of the Gorges Atrium.
“My idea was to add more color. It’s tough to find color with the available plants at the local nurseries in mid-April. I’m excited to see what comes up. Three years ago it was really great and pictures (of the gardens) ended up on the cover of the Catholic Advance,” McKim said.
McKim has been at Newman University for past 18 years. As a veteran of the campus grounds he knows the squirrels can be a challenge when it comes to planting.
“They say that tulip bulbs are poisonous for squirrels, but I’d be planting and they would be digging them up behind me,” McKim joked.
In addition to McKim’s project, Head Tennis Coach Shella Augspurger and members of her tennis team planted shrubs and laid sod on the north side of the Gorges Atrium entrance last month.