By Madelyn Petta – Managing Editor
A reason to love Clark: We have unbeatable flowers in spring.
“Everywhere I go, I always notice the flowers,” student Mikaela Overlin said. “It makes me proud to go here, you know?”
Overlin is one of many drawn to Clark’s main campus during spring, when it is veiled with new growth and vibrant flowers.
Last week, the sunshine coaxed students out onto warm benches and sprawling lawns and under the 100 shirofugen cherry trees in full blossom near the Japanese Friendship Garden and O’Connell Sports Center.
Jill McMillan is a community member who took advantage of the weather and the grass under cherry trees to photograph her daughters. “The blossoms, they’re incredible,” she said. “It just looks absolutely magical.”
Groundskeeper Gayla Shanahan said Clark is still planting the 200 cherry trees donated last year along with 200 more donated at this year’s Sakura Festival. The trees honor the friendship between Vancouver and its sister city of Joyo, Japan.
The cherry blossoms aren’t alone in ornamenting the campus: lilacs, tulips, gerbera daisies, snapdragons, roses, irises, camellias, lavender, violets, chamomiles and rhododendrons lace the grounds at Clark.
Shanahan said some areas of campus bring her particular pride: the STEM building grounds, Hanna Hall’s flower bed and the sculpted bushes in front of Foster Hall and Frost Arts Center.
Clark is a 90-acre arboretum, holding status as a Tree Campus USA college. Shanahan said to reach this status, groundskeepers had to label every tree. Most of the trees have identifying plaques, but Shanahan said they get damaged easily and are being replaced with tags around the trunks.
Shanahan said former biology professor Anna Pechanec planted most of the trees on campus at night. “She would go around when nobody was around and plant trees,” she said.
In 2014, Clark published an interactive tree map.
Lab technician Tim Carper said the campus hosts the official trees of 49 out of 50 states. He said the missing tree is the Idaho’s Western White Pine, which is ironic because it is so prolific in the area.
At the Andersen Fountain, golden celebration variety roses are putting out their first buds. When the roses open, they have deep golden yellow petals and a lemony fragrance.
Shanahan said that Clark’s flowers are a community effort and she created the flower bed outside of Hanna Hall from cuttings of plants people brought her from their homes.
“I hear a lot of people talk about how lovely it is,” she said. “It’s supposedly one of the loveliest campuses in the state.”
The Indy is publishing an online series called “Reasons to Love Clark.” These short stories highlight lesser-known facts and faces that shape the campus community.