Aaron DickauGardener Aaron Dickau cares for large tropical plants overwintering in the greenhouse on the roof of the Biology Building.

Grounds grateful to share greenhouse

An agreement to share space in its rooftop greenhouse with the University’s grounds service is providing benefits to both parties, says biology department head Dennis Higgs.

The grounds staff has been using part of the greenhouse, located atop the Biology Building, to store large tropical plants that would otherwise not survive the winter.

“We were happy to partner with grounds to help serve their needs,” Dr. Higgs says. “We no longer had the support to properly upkeep the greenhouse so we are happy that grounds will help us repair and maintain the space.

“We will still use most of the greenhouse for our active teaching and research programs, but we are pleased to help grounds continue to beautify our campus.”

Gardener Aaron Dickau, trained as a horticulturalist, moved a variety of ornamental plants — palms, banana, hibiscus and more — into the warm locale as colder weather threatened this fall.

“What I have kept is large stock that forms the centrepieces of planters across the campus,” he says. “They’re non-hardy and would have ended up as compost.”

He cites two advantages to the move: saving the plants saves money, and because they continue to grow, they have a more impressive impact when they are displayed again in the spring.

“Usually, the end of the season is when you have the largest plants,” Dickau says. “Now we can start them out looking like that. They will only keep getting bigger.”

He says the greenhouse makes a perfect storage facility, requiring only minimal maintenance.

“You just have to water a couple of times a week,” he says. “Right now they’re in a state of minimal growth, but come spring they will be lush and vibrant.”