July 20, 2009
thing that strikes a visitor the moment he or she steps onto a St.
John’s University campus is the beauty, variety and arrangement of
the many plantings.
Thanks to the efforts of the Office of Facilities Services and its
dedicated workers, a St. John’s campus is indeed a joy to
But the plantings are more than just eye candy. They are also a
sign of the University’s commitment to New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg’s “Mayoral Challenge for Climate Change for 30 in 10” to
reduce the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere
by 30 percent.
One of the most significant additions to campus plantings is the
hundreds of trees provided by the MillionTreesNYC
initiative and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
for planting on the Queens and Staten Island campuses. Linden, oak,
magnolia, zelkova, hornbeam, dogwood and rosebud trees have been
planted so far and additional plantings are anticipated.
“Trees are like the lungs of a planet, they breathe in carbon
dioxide and breathe out oxygen,” says William Bernor, Director of
Grounds at St. John’s. “The tree-planting sustainability initiative
has not only added to the splendor of campus but assist in the
reduction of energy and carbon emission which contributes to
the Queens campus, the trees are planted along University parking
lots and fence lines, around campus buildings, in Carnesecca Plaza,
and on the auxiliary islands located on Utopia Parkway.
In addition, St. John’s has increased the number of flowering
plants by 5,000. In the spring, those strolling about the grounds
were greeted by an array of bright, colorful tulips, pansies and
daffodils. Now, summer annuals, including begonias, hydrangeas and
coleus plants as well as ornamental grasses abound.
A Year-Round Task
Campus beautification work occurs year-round. The planting sites
are selected based on landscape design and lay-out of the campus.
During the fall months of October to November, daffodil and tulip
bulbs are planted for blossom in April or May. In mid-September,
the facilities services staff plant mums and kale and at the end of
March into April, pansies are planted for early spring. By
the last week in April, summer annuals are planted in order to be
at their peak for Commencement in May.
In an effort to capture the opulence of nature in a metropolitan
city, this beautification project is a continuous endeavor that
takes weeks of preparation and manpower.
‘Each year we have been increasing the amount of flowers and bulbs
planted on our campuses,” adds Director Bernor. “Compared to last
year, the University has planted on average 5,000 to 10,000 more
plants on campus.”
The Grass Is Always
At the beginning of summer, when classes end and students move out
of the residence halls, the University becomes host to numerous
organizations, conferences and events. In order to preserve the
property, grass-seeding is conducted in the spring and fall
seasons. The major lawns and professional baseball and softball
fields are aerated or sprinkled three to four times a year as part
of necessary maintenance.
New projects on the horizon include landscaping the sitting area in
front of the Queens campus’ new D’Angelo Center with plant, flower
and shrub beds to provide a relaxing tranquil space for the campus
community. In addition, the area around Gate 3 will be enhanced by
trees planted in the surrounding area and at the rear of the
baseball field in the upcoming months.
Next month, new flower beds, shrubs and landscaping will be added
along the pathway leading to the Residence Village just in time to
welcome new and returning students to their new home away from