As sophomore Sarah Griffin walks across campus to her classes, she admires the gardens and greenery; however, after taking in the surroundings, she realizes there seems to be something missing.
“We live in Tyler, which is supposed to be the rose flower capital,” sophomore Sarah Griffin said. “We should have roses somewhere. I’m not saying a garden of roses, just a rose bush somewhere.”
Despite it being a part of the acclaimed Azalea Trails, some believe the gardens have much more potential and need additional variety. The item most requested by students was roses.
“I think they should chop down the shrubs and replace them with something prettier like roses,” sophomore Sparrow Thomas said. “They [the gardens] are OK, but could be better.”
A number of students believe that being a part of the Azalea Trails only increases the idea that the gardens should be improved. Freshman Edwin Thompson agrees TJC should have larger, better quality gardens.
“I have been looking at the gardens lately, and I think they are all right,” Thompson said. “They will work, but they really need to be expanded.”
The Azalea Trails haven’t always included the botanical gardens on the TJC campus. It was only in the past few years that the Ida Brundrett Azalea Garden was officially added to the trails in the brochure.
“TJC has been a part of the trail for the past three or four years,” Justin Turner, Tyler vice president of tourism said. “We have included the Ida Brundrett Garden at TJC in the brochure as a public garden to tour.”
However, many students don’t know the gardens are all educationally based. The Gatewood Garden, which is in the courtyard of Jenkins Hall, is a study of various ground covers.
“The Gatewood Garden, which we still haven’t finished, has over 30 varieties of Asian Jasmine,” Principal Gifts Director Mitch Andrews said. “Each of the gardens as we proceed will be themed from a horticulture, educational perspective.”
A committee of gardening horticulture leaders from throughout East Texas makes decisions about the gardens.
“The landscape architect has done quite a bit of educational garden development,” Andrews said. “As we privately fund each of those gardens, he comes to us with a suggested list of plantings, which is given to the committee.”
While many students believe that there should be roses on campus, the committee has decided that the educational themes should not presently include roses.
“The committee decided that The Tyler Rose Garden represented roses for Tyler and that this project should be about other horticulture offerings outside roses,” Andrews said. “But who knows? As we proceed, they may include roses somewhere.”
Donors or contributors who support the projects privately fund the gardens. Each garden has an individual budget, but the entire project is currently at approximately $3.8 million.
“It’s pretty sizable, especially for some of the larger gardens,” Andrews said. “There is quite a bit of site development, and that’s what makes them so expensive.”
Planned expansions to the gardens are limited by the donations received.
“There is an expansion of the Brundrett Garden planned, and we have a donor interested in the Arts Garden,” Andrews said. “We would really like to complete them in the next five years, but it depends on the private funding.”
The garden projects are expanding to try to meet student and community desires. Students interested in working with the committee can contact Andrews at (903) 510-2034 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We hope it brings more visitors to the campus and provides more outdoor spaces for our students to enjoy, study and hold activities,” Andrews said. “It’s got a lot of potential.”