The Thomas E. Ricks Gardens are one of BYU-Idaho’s crowning jewels on campus. Its exquisite detail in plants, design, and horticulture is a must-see for all who visit this campus. Behind the scenes of its beauty, however, there are students who work each semester to improve it and keep it well maintained.
The Applied Plant Science Department manages the gardens to keep them looking their best for anyone who walks through them. The gardens also serve as a laboratory for the applied plant science students who grow plants in the greenhouses and then take them outside to the gardens.
Many students dedicate their time and efforts into making the gardens a beautiful place. They apply the skills they learn from getting hands-on experience into their classes and vice versa. Being involved in the work helps the students increase their familiarity with horticulture, plant identification, landscaping, and the principles they’re learning in their classes.
“The more you learn about something, the more you understand it,” said Rebekah Shepard, a student studying horticulture. “A lot of plants I’m already familiar with because I’ve been working with them.”
As seasons change, so does the work. Throughout the summer, the students are working to maintain the gardens to keep them looking nice. As fall comes, they start preparing for winter by removing the water pumps in the ponds and raking leaves. Throughout the winter months, students are working in greenhouses and learning in the classrooms.
During the spring, students are the busiest as they prepare for the upcoming season of new growth. Irrigation needs to be in place and new plants are planted in the gardens.
The different areas in the applied plant science program each play an important role in making the gardens look their best. Landscape and design students construct specific projects each semester to add to the gardens. This semester, the students are constructing a 30-foot long bridge for the Japanese garden.
The Applied Plant Science Department has also started making the gardens more wheelchair accessible to allow for anyone and everyone to come and take advantage of the calming nature of the gardens.
“We are starting to work in areas and make some plans to take stairs out and make them ramps, so that they are more accessible to everybody,” said Skyler Westergard, an applied plant science faculty member.
The gardens have many uses and are beneficial for not only students, but for faculty, administrators, and visitors as well. The wedding area and picnic pavilion can be reserved for luncheons, banquets, and parties and is open to the public for use.
“They play a big role in having a place on campus where people can go. We love to see everyone using the gardens,” Westergard remarked.
For more information about the Ricks Gardens or how to schedule a tour of the gardens, visit www.byui.edu/applied-plant-science/ricks-garden.