> Trees of Winona State University > Introduction
This publication represents a tour — or perhaps more correctly, a journey — of the evolution of the placement and variety of trees at Winona State University. This journey dates back to 1988 when the seeds of change were first planted. Bill Meyer, WSU senior groundskeeper, is your guide on this tour and he shows you how these changes occurred.
Bill Meyer Comment
At the time I began my work experience at Winona State University in the mid 1980s, I came to realize that the campus grounds had a limited number of tree species. Many flowerbeds that displayed a dazzling array of flower types were planted throughout the campus, but WSU only hosted 15-20 different tree species. I became concerned about potential harm to the campus environment that could be caused by this lack of diversification combined with onset of disease, insect infestation or severe weather.
Divrsification and expansion of the types of trees growing on campus became a personal and professional goal. Limited time and resources, and the press of other campus responsibilities limited my opportunities to further this pursuit for several years. In 1994, I planted the first of our Kentucky Coffeetrees and the journey officially began.
Throughout the next 10 years, the WSU campus grounds witnessed incredible change. With WSU President Darrell Krueger's vision, the streets that crisscrossed the inner core of the campus were eliminated and returned to green space, providing more opportunity for the introduction of new and varied plant materials.
I recall a chance meeting on campus between myself and Dr. Krueger as we admired a healthy and majestic Homestead Elm tree along Huff Street near the main entrance to the campus student union building. I told the president that nearly 60 new tree species had been planted on the main campus during the past several years. When I mentioned that at least one of nearly every species of tree considered to be native to Minnesota was growing on campus, his eyes lit up and he told me to get them all.
At that time, we were a few trees short of that goal. Following searches with various nurseries in the Midwest, the missing species were located, purchased, and placed on campus. Finally, in 2003, Winona State University was able to boast that it had growing on campus all the tree species native to Minnesota included in a publication of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
Each year, we add several trees, move a few to make room for expansion or renovation projects, and replace specimens that may not have taken well to harsh winter weather or particularly dry summer periods. While I personally had a pretty good handle on which trees were planted where, I used my own rudimentary sketches and notes to remind me of specific details about tree species or who donated which tree, and when. I decided it might be a good idea, and a valuable historical and planning document, to set down on paper more specific information about the trees of Winona State University.
The book you hold in your hands is a record of the state of WSU's campus, with regard to tree location, as of the fall of 2004. The book can serve several distinct purposes. On the one hand, it may be viewed as a field guide of sorts with tree information, maps and identifying photographs. It may be helpful as a companion to a walking tour of the campus grounds. In addition, it is a volume that attests to Winona State University's dedication to providing a beautiful campus environment that supports learning.
The book is organized into two main sections. The first section includes photographs and feature descriptions of several campus trees. Nearly one third of the more than 90 species of trees on campus are given the feature treatment. The second section features campus maps which represent as accurately as possible the placement of each tree on campus. Appendices include a feature article about campus trees that appeared in the WSU magazine, and a bibliography of resources and references.
Trees selected to be included in the feature trees section were chosen because of the potential interest for the reader. In each case, the feature tree has a unique story related to its inherent features (leaves, blooms, fruit, bark, etc.); the history of the species; or perhaps how the tree came to be placed at Winona State University. Several trees have been placed as the result of donations of faculty, staff or friends of the institution, and others have been placed as living memorials to loved ones with a connection to this great university. (Incidentally, those that wish to donate a tree or offer financial support for continued maintenance of WSU grounds are encouraged to contact the WSU Office of University Advancement, phone 507-457-5020.)
The section that includes maps is broken out geographically in a grid pattern that covers the entire main Winona State University campus. Readers can use the maps to help locate a tree they wish to view, or they can use the grid map system to help identify a tree they are standing near while holding the book. The maps include the common name of each tree, as well as the official species name. Each tree is given an index number which appears in all maps wherever the trees are placed. For example, there are several Northern Pin Oaks placed around campus, so that tree's index number (40) appears on several of the grid maps.
Inevitably, changes will occur. As a next step, there are plans to create a more interactive document of this sort on WSU's web site (www.winona.edu) that can be easily updated and searched.
Tom and I have strived to create this book as accurate and informative documentation of WSU's trees. Whenever possible, the different varieties and cultivars of campus trees are identified through records from the time of purchase and placement. Trees were then visually identified and cross-referenced by trained nursery experts. Even so, in some cases, especially on older specimens with similar characteristics, it wasn't possible to reach a completely uniform opinion. In addition, where one draws the line between trees and shrubs is difficult. Some arbitrary decisions were made in this regard for this book.
The journey is not over. A constant evolution will continue to take place here at Winona State University. This book is a brief but current glimpse in time of the trees on campus. It can serve as a foundation for even better record-keeping in the future. I hope this guide will add to your appreciation of the beauty of Winona State University grounds.
– Bill Meyer
Tom Grier Comment
While walking across the Winona State University campus one day in the early spring of 1999, Bill Meyer, a senior groundskeeper, stopped me. He noticed I had my camera and excitedly suggested I walk with him to take a photograph of a tree in bloom. That's how my involvement in this project started.
At that time, I was a novice gardener, with only a passing interest in the beauty of trees, focused mainly on the fall colors seen in their glory in the upper Mississippi River valley in mid-October. I suppose I could have figured out the difference between a Maple and an Oak tree by looking at their leaves, harkening back to a junior high science course or two.
As the director of public relations at the university, and head of the school's photography services unit, I heeded Bill's wishes, followed him to the tree, and dutifully snapped several shots of the young Magnolia with its wide white blooms. I sent copies of a few of the snapshots to Bill and filed the negatives away for future reference.
Over the next year or two, several times a year, Bill would catch me on campus and tell me about a tree that was about to bloom or leaves that were particularly colorful. A few times, I shot pictures to record for public relations purposes a particular tree-planting event or garden dedication on campus.
I'd always had an interest in nature photography, but until then had focused on fauna, rather than flora. Bill's interest in the trees of the WSU campus was infectious. I found myself watching for interesting things to shoot on my own. I would proudly tell Bill when I'd caught good shots of the Amur Maackia blooms, or the stunning red leaves of the Pin Oak, even when he hadn't specifically requested I shoot those pictures.
In 2002, Bill had the idea to somehow record all the information about the trees of Winona State. He wanted maps to keep track of which trees were planted in which locations. The prototype of this book was created in 2003 with the help of WSU's Publications Office, and the cover was adorned with several of my photographs.
Darrell Krueger, Winona State University president, loved that book, but dreamed out loud about a more significant book that would feature photographs and detailed descriptions of the trees on campus. By then, I had hundreds of photographs, but I knew there were also many holes to fill.
Beginning in spring 2003, Bill and I vigilantly watched the trees on campus and tried to find the best days to shoot each tree at its peak beauty. I tried to capture new growth, blooms, buds, fruit, color changes, and the rare occasion when thick wet snow stuck to barren branches for an hour or two before melting away.
Along the way, Bill challenged me with questions: What's the state tree of Minnesota? Where, on campus are the pear trees? Which tree on campus blooms the earliest in spring? (The answers: Norway or Red Pine; north east of the main entrance of Minné Hall; The Magnolia.)
I've enjoyed the process and am proud of the knowledge I've gained. I won't claim to be a horticulturist, but I can effectively cause companions to doze off when I explain some exciting detail such as how WSU’s Alder trees have both male and female characteristics on the same tree.
The book reflects the trees of Winona State University at a particular moment in 2004. By the time many flip through the pages of this book, some trees will have moved to new locations and other new trees will have been planted. Perhaps that means there will be a second edition of this book someday…
– Tom Grier
Last Modified: Thursday, May 08, 2008 13:58 by