UWP campus blooms with blossoms

May 5, 2003

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Stacie Crocker, a UWP student from Evansville, reads from a textbook amid the blooming daffodils outside of Karrmann Library.

PLATTEVILLE-Gilbert and Sullivan's "The flowers that bloom in the spring tra-la" sound a universal note at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

A microcosm of woods, prairie and wetlands, the UWP 330-acre campus blushes with lavender rhododendrons and colorful splashes of tulips. The fragrance of daffodils and hyacinths perfumes the air.

The spring palette of flowers is the result of planning and planting by Mike Udelhofen, superintendent of buildings and grounds and Tom Cullen, chief groundskeeper.

Udelhofen and Cullen and the grounds crew plant about 3,000 flower bulbs each fall. "Last year we planted 5,000 bulbs along with other plantings" said Udelhofen.

Dry conditions this spring have meant sporadic and late blooming, said Cullen, who takes great pride in his work. "There are 500 tulips about to bloom around the flagpole in front of Brigham Hall," he said. On the east side of Karrmann library, 400 tulips are beginning to bloom.

Besides flowers, there are trees in bloom as well, including Eastern redbuds, serviceberry and crabapple.

Udelhofen and Cullen keep careful watch over their plantings and flowers. "We're always trying to improve, looking for more ways to beautify," said Cullen. "Everything is strategically placed."

Non-humans also appreciate the campus blooms. Tulip bulbs are considered a delicacy to squirrels, voles, chipmunks and other rodents. "We have to overplant to compensate," said Udelhofen. "From one-fourth to one-third may be eaten."

In addition to the main campus, the UWP grounds crew takes care of about 150 acres, including the greenbelt and nature trail. Also, they look after Miner's Field, the old football field when students lived in Rountree Hall, the "M," 400 acres of whitewashed stone on the Platteville Mound, and the current football stadium grounds.

Off duty, both men spend time in their gardens at home, and Cullen does free-lance landscaping. "We're lucky," said Udelhofen. "We love what we do and do what we love."

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