Arboretum & Landscape Committee
Annual Report: 1988-1989
During the past year the Committee has met approximately biweekly to consider a host of
questions ranging from the momentous to the minute. It has been a year of some achievements and
some disappointments. Chief among the latter has been the decision to remove the McGuffey Ash.
Despite the inevitability of its decline, the Committee feels its loss acutely and cannot help but
question whether there might not have been, at some time, an action that might have been taken to
prolong its life.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
On the brighter side we can now look forward to the completion of the Monroe-Newcomb
Plaza. At one point it appeared that escalating costs and a failure of nerve threatened the whole
project. Nevertheless, with a guarantee loan of an additional $45,000 from Seward Funds, the
Committee was able to push the work ahead. The funding has now been augmented by a gift from
the Class of 1989. Despite delays caused by weather and hidden utility lines, we anticipate the
completion of Phase I in the early fall.
The consulting firm of EDAW has completed its study of lighting on the central Grounds.
Their recommendations have had a mixed reception, especially the prescription of new light fixtures
for the whole of the historic area and also the proposal to remove all free-standing light fixtures from
the lower lawn. Responding to the report and to pressure from the Safety Committee, Arboretum
and Landscape approved the removal of the overgrown box bushes in front of Cocke Hall and their
replacement with smaller box that would permit light from within and reflected from the building to
illuminate the South Lawn. Fortunately for the University, a gift of 15 English box was received from
Mrs. H. P. Farrish. These have been planted at Cocke Hall. It is understood that before the free-standing lights are removed the efficacy of the EDAW plan of reflected lighting will have to be
A small but significant improvement in landscaping has been carried out on the upper
driveway at Physical Plant. In cooperation with Parking and Transportation, the Committee has
created a new street-scape, with a row of Zelkova trees and a new hedge of Forsythia. Another
major parking project has been the extension of the north lot on Massie Road. Mr. Leback has been
given permission to experiment with a new approach to landscaping parking lots. The new ideas are
(1) to mass the trees in groups rather than scatter them in rows, (2) to place the masses off center to
decrease their interference with the lighting, and (3) to try new species of tough, hardy trees. Planting
should take place this fall.
Losses of trees on the Grounds have been heavy this year. The Committee has found it
necessary to approve the removal of over 50. We can point to at least three contributing factors.
First is the severe drought of the last two years. This has been compounded by inadequate facilities
for watering plants, although this problem has recently been partially solved by the gift of a water
truck from a concerned friend of the University. Second is the inadequate funding and supervision
of landscaping on new construction sites. This was particularly apparent around the new dormitories
on Alderman Road. Third is the general lack of resources available to the Landscape Division of
Physical Plant. The need for a University crew to prune and care for trees is most apparent. We
simply cannot afford to hire the necessary work from outside.
A number of new plantings have been set out on the Grounds. Most important is the
Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) honoring Mr. Vincent Shea for his continued interest in the
improvement of the Grounds, perhaps most clearly demonstrated by his establishment of the Seward
Fund. The Committee also planted a memorial Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) for Miss Laura Kaye,
a student member of the Committee killed in a car accident. A Dogwood (Cornus florida) was
planted at the Children's Rehabilitation Center in honor of Dr. William Muller. Other major plantings
include the White Ashes (Fraxinus americana) at the west end of McCormick Road, a Sophora
japonica at Madison Hall, and replacement fruit trees in the Pavilion Gardens. We also note the gifts
for the CRC of 30 White Pines (Pinus strobus) from Mr. Harry Burns and an American Elm (Ulmus
americanus from Mr. Peter Halleck.
A large number of other projects have required the attention of the Committee, including the
1. A protocol for dealing with Dutch Elm Disease.
2. A proposed terrace for Lambeth Field Commons.
3. Landscaping for the Print Shop parking lot.
4. A garden for the CRC entrance.
5. Standards for outdoor water fountains.
6. Landscaping for dumpsters at Memorial Gym, Brooks Hall, Monroe Hill, and the Chemistry
7. The terrace at the Old Medical School.
8. Landscaping for the MR4 building.
9. Plantings for Monroe Hall.
10. Realignment of walks at Thornton Hall.
11. Renovation of the Pavilion Gardens.
12. Color of the traffic paint.
13. Railings for the Cabell Hall steps.
14. Landscaping for the fraternity houses on Culbreth Road.
15. Clearing paths for the satellite dishes.
16. Benches for the Monroe Hall bus stop.
17. Valet parking for the hospital.
18. A temporary trailer for Gilmer Hall.
19. Landscaping the entrance to Mechanical Engineering.
20. Re-landscaping Lile and Maupin dormitories.
21. Mobile offices for Physical Plant.
22. Landscaping the MRI unit at Stacy Hall.
23. Plantings for the Copeley-North Grounds path.
24. Request for a wall along Millmont Street.
25. Coordination of utility work by Rolm.
26. A courtyard for McKim Hall.
27. Landscaping the Zehmer Hall annex.
28. Locating recycling stations.
29. Locating a collision detector for the 14th St. bridge.
30. Landscaping the parking lot for the Slaughter Recreation Building.
31. Landscaping for the Elson Center.
32. Planting for the Cobb Hall transformers.
33. Steps for Lot B on Jefferson Park Avenue.
34. Proposal to narrow McCormick Rd. by West Range.
35. Relocating the sundial from the Rotunda.
36. Relocating a capital from the Rotunda Annex.
37. Landscaping for the Gamma Knife building.
38. Locating a transformer at Clark Hall.
39. Plans for sidewalks for Stadium Road.
40. Funding the map of trees on the Grounds.
Several important questions from our deliberations will carry over into the next year. 1. We
are facing the arrival of the Gypsy Moth on the Grounds. Mr. Ertel has proposed that the best policy
is to treat only trees that are being seriously defoliated. He intends to use a chemical insecticide,
probably Sevin. This policy may be opposed from both sides. On the one hand there will be those
that wish to spray wholesale, and on the other there will be those who are opposed to any chemical
sprays at all. The administration will need to be prepared to take a position that can be rationally
supported and stick to it in the face of protests.
2. The abandonment of the water treatment facility on Observatory Hill provides the University
with a prime site for a new use. Mr. Sensbach has suggested that it would be ideal as a central
location for satellite dishes. The site needs to be evaluated if it is to serve the highest purpose for the
3. The Committee has suggested to the President that an item should be inserted for
landscaping and grounds maintenance in the forthcoming capital campaign. We would hope to
receive the support of our reporting authority in the VPPG for realizing this opportunity.
The Committee will continue to meet on an irregular schedule through the summer to cope with
problems as they arise.
J. J. Murray, Chairman