Start a garden in Whitewater


Felicity Knabenbauer

A variety of succulents waiting to be bought at the Upham greenhouse.

Felicity Knabenbauer, Lifestyle Editor

The bees of Whitewater are beginning their rounds of buzzing through the neighborhood and it is our job to help give them something to pollinate. An easy way to do so is by starting your very own garden! Whether you own a home, live in an apartment or stay in a dorm there are a variety of ways to get a little greenery into your living space and life in general. There are also a number of health advantages to be gained from surrounding yourself with a variety of oxygen-producing friends. Employees of the Sustainability office who work at the University of Wisconsin Upham greenhouse know a thing or two about these benefits.

The outside of Upham greenhouse.
(Felicity Knabenbauer)

“For one I’d say it’s been clinically proven in scientific literature that having greenery around you can help not only boost your mood and mental health but it can also speed up physical recovery from illnesses. So being surrounded by plant life is, all around, just a good thing. It also gives you something on those days where you don’t really have anything else to be doing. Plants give you something to get up and do. It’s nice and refreshing to watch plants grow from just a little sapling into a big ol’ plant. It is very rewarding and clinically proven to have health benefits. They’re easy enough to take care of, plants are way more resilient than you’d think. It’s ridiculous,” said Upham Hall greenhouse manager Jackie Krebs.

These UW-W students are learning to become professionals in their fields to spend

Sign of campus garden with rhubarb growing in front of it.
(Felicity Knabenbauer )

exuberant amounts of time with these plants but also inform the public on how to take care of their own photosynthesizing buddies as well. Even simply keeping a plant from dying can be a nerve-wracking hassle that many do not wish to involve themselves in.

“I joined in August but I am at that point where I could show you a plant and say this plant was dying but I saved it. I have also been lucky that I am taking plant taxonomy at the same time as I have been doing this internship. I am learning more about how these plants evolved, what plants are related to others and what petals are actually really leaves just modified to trick the bugs,” said Krebs.

Still, there are a variety of plants that are not too difficult to keep thriving. Some plants even like it best when you ignore them most of the time. Examples of this can be cactus plants that rarely need to be watered more than once a week. These prickly growers may just be exactly what the average plant-lover needs in their home in order to fully embrace their tree hugging lifestyle. 

“Succulents are really easy to grow. You can propagate them and they are a cheap, easy way to have plants at home. It’s a pretty easy thing that anyone can do on their own. You can grow vegetables in your apartment, like I do. Something so you can grow your own sustainable food. I grow tomatoes, basil and I am going to start to grow green beans this summer,” said greenhouse operations intern Grace Morey.

Herbs, fruits and vegetables can also make their way to your windowsill as well as your outside garden. It all just depends on the abundance you plan on growing. There has been a recent trend of “garden front yards” where a person’s lawn is completely replaced with gardening plants instead. Not only does this trend provide an abundance of free food to the owner of the garden but also provides the wildlife with another place to pollinate.

The petals of a ledebouria socialis plant (Felicity Knabenbauer )

“My favorite plants are herbs, onion and basil. Anything like that I can eat and have a free supply of for my life. I am also a big fan of, for example, right here in the greenhouse we have the desert rose. Just pretty flowering plants. For plants that are easy to take care of a lot of the desert plants such as succulents are a very good option. Especially for people who are starting up a new garden. However some of the ones that are harder to grow or that are harder to come by are also nice to have. They can be even more rewarding,” said Krebs.

Gardening can be an incredibly relaxing and satisfying activity to keep your mind and body occupied this summer. The students and staff at the Upham Hall greenhouse are ready and waiting for anyone with questions to stop by and smell the roses.

“I am here a couple times a week, about or three or four times a week really. Not enough people see the greenhouse here. It is really pretty,” said Morey.

Whether you start out with a little succulent or begin to dig up your front lawn to plant dozens of different varieties, there is no right or wrong way to start a garden. The UW-Whitewater campus garden is a beautiful and bountiful area to get inspiration from before grabbing your hoe and shovel and breaking into the dirt.

A variety of different plants. (Felicity Knabenbauer )