After years of struggling to provide plants and flowers for the college’s various events, Hillsdale has finally renovated and expanded the greenhouse at Hayden Park to solve this problem.
The college hired Greenhouse General Services in connection with Greyhawk Greenhouse Supply to complete the job in October. The college has collaborated with these companies in the past for repairs, and for the relocation of the polyhouse.
The entire project took about a week and a half to complete, and added an additional 48 feet to the existing greenhouse, making it nearly 150 feet in length.
Horticulturist Angie Girdham said the primary reason for expanding the greenhouse was that they “simply ran out of space.”
In the past, several local growers have been responsible for supplying Hillsdale College with plants for Commencement and Slayton Arboretum’s annual fundraising plant sale. Girdham has been wanting to grow the plants for major events instead of outsourcing them for a long time.
“I’m happy to be bringing the growing in-house so that I can monitor the crops more closely,” Angie said. “Commencement and the fundraiser are such important events and it has always been difficult for me to not be more in control of the quality of the plant material we receive.”
Over the past few years, pallets and plants were being put on the ground and squeezed into any available spot in the greenhouse, which kept individual plants from getting the proper amount of sunlight and space.
Last year, the greenhouse supplied all of the plants for the the arboretum’s annual fundraising sale, in addition to supplying all the plants on campus, which amounted to about 7000 plants. The greenhouse is expected to surpass that number this year.
“The past few years we have used every inch of growing space plus most of the floor to grow the flowers for the campus ornamental beds and the plants for the Arb’s annual fundraising plant sale. The space is something we have needed for a little while now,” Girdham said.
Girdham works with several students interested in horticulture, one of which is junior Adrianne Fogg, who has been working with Girdham in the greenhouse since 2017. In the winter, students like Fogg spend a good deal of time in the greenhouse seeding, watering, and transplanting.
“Most of the work happens during the Spring semester, but we begin some of the prep work for the various events in December,” Fogg said.
Junior Arena Lewis has also worked with Girdham, growing and caring for plants this semester.
Lewis is particularly excited about the expansion because it will allow them to grow the flowers and ferns used on stage for commencement and convocation, in addition to their usual output.
“It’s nice because now Angie can grow the plants for commencement and other large events instead of having to outsource,” Lewis said.