Doing greenery & plants better at Tech

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

Has anyone noticed the way plants grow on campus? Oftentimes, Tech’s planting patterns seem to be rather jarring and… artificial. How many students have noticed grasses planted in rows and columns? Let us compare and contrast different green areas on campus.

Consider the EcoCommons. Unlike the perfectly ordered monkey grass near the CULC, the EcoCommons are at least intended to reproduce a natural habitat. Unfortunately, intent does not always produce results. Do the EcoCommons not look manicured?

They lack the variety and imperfection that marks nature.  I have even heard an (unverified) anecdote that during the fall, Tech personnel actually remove fallen leaves. It may be green, but it is scarcely natural. Of course, crisscrossing the EcoCommons with wide walkways does not help any feeling of immersion in nature. 

When visiting someplace like a national park or conservatory, the path is integrated with the surroundings, highlighting the different natural features present. In the EcoCommons, it seems more like the paths were just dropped wherever seemed convenient. 

The plants seem forced to participate as decoration, not designed to display their natural beauty.

However, other students may not feel the same as I do. I have visited natural places in states across the country, so I may have less sympathy for city gardening than others.

A great example of local nature is the patch of forest that happens to be directly across from the EcoCommons. 

If one stops at the intersection of Ferst Drive and Hemphill Avenue, a short walk up the hill will lead to a gravel path. 

This path cuts through the only unadulterated patch of nature I know of on Tech campus. 

The trees are natural and randomly spaced, the undergrowth is untrimmed and the fallen branches have not been removed. I enjoy walking through this miniature forest because it reminds me of the true forests in North Georgia.

Of course, landscaping does not have to involve forests. Examples of decent landscaping include the unruly plant bed near the North Avenue bridge and the overgrown grasses along Atlantic Drive near Tech Green. 

These line up more closely with my ideal of plant freedom. However, these ideal plant beds seem (to my unpracticed eye) to be the result of neglect, rather than intention. I would prefer to be mistaken.

Perhaps students should start a landscaping club to take care of planting new plants. 

Georgia Tech could hire contractors to prepare the ground and choose plants, and the Tech landscaping club would actually plant them. The disorder inherent to large groups of amateurs ought to result in an appropriately random planting.

Tech should emulate city gardens where whole habitats of plants grow almost as if they were in the wild. Instead of some areas looking like a perfectly trimmed neighborhood flower bed, all Tech plants should look natural. 

Maybe it would inspire student creativity or something.