Turning over a new leaf: How Mirror Lake’s foliage reflects the fall season

The Lantern
= Anthony Bernard, a university groundskeeper, and a fellow groundskeeper working on upkeep at Mirror Lake. The foliage around the water is changed for the seasons. Credit: Nora Igelnik | Lantern Reporter

Fall is in the air, and now even more around Mirror Lake.

Each year, landscapers and groundskeepers transition the greenery around Mirror Lake by planting new perennials, shrubs and trees to adjust for fall weather and aesthetics. Over the next few weeks, Jeffrey Barr, assistant director of landscape services, said the landscaping team plans to install over 2,500 new plants.

The plants include a number of perennials, which are best planted in the fall, according to Anthony Bernard, a university groundskeeper.

These also provide “seasonal interest” all year since they can live for multiple years, Barr said.

“There are a variety of perennials around Mirror Lake that bloom at different times of the year,” Barr said in an email. “These perennials include terrestrial and aquatic plants.”

During these switches, the university relocates the plants instead of throwing them away in order to be sustainable and save money, Bernard said.

“It’s good for the environment, obviously, to reuse the plants that are alive and just kind of give them a new purpose and things like that,” Bernard said.

Bernard added that each “big planting,” which involves sets of various plants, takes him and his team of groundskeepers one full workday to complete. On a typical day, Bernard works with one or two team members, but during the autumn transition, there are days when his team is made up of 15 people.

“Once we plant those plants, it’s just a matter of upkeep, keeping things pruned and trimmed and watered,” Bernard said. “It’s been very dry.”

Unfortunately for Bernard, the past month has been lacking rain, which makes the fall transition more difficult.

“We have had no rain for over a month,” he said. “It’s been killing us. If you notice around Mirror Lake, there are some plants that are very, very dry right over here.”

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