Elon University, located in Elon, North Carolina, has been known to be one of the most beautiful and cleanest campuses throughout the United States. Founded in 1889, and having 600 acres of stunning architecture and landscaping, Elon has always been a gorgeous campus for students and also for the local community. According to various college rankings such as the Princeton Review and the New York Times, Elon University is ranked as number 1 for having the most beautiful college campus. This is attributed to the fact that the university keeps the appearance of the campus high on their list of priorities. It is also due to the students who respect all the work that is done, and do their best to keep the campus clean and orderly.
Hannah Houston, a freshman at Elon, says, “The flowering plants are the best because they give the campus so much color and life”. Another beautiful part of the campus that Hannah mentioned was the big oak trees that stand tall throughout the campus. Elon is known for it’s beautiful oak trees that shade the old brick pathways that wind through the old brick buildings. Hannah also commented “the beauty of the campus attracts not only students, but members from outside the college”. She continued to say, “it’s so nice to see people walking their dogs or with their children because I know that they appreciate the staff who creates this beautiful location just as much as I do”. Elon has been made into an enjoyable place for the whole community rather than just the students. It’s a place where everyone can come together to relax and learn together.
In 2005, President Leo Lambert signed a resolution, officially declaring Elon University as a botanical garden. Now that it is considered a botanical garden, it can be used as an educational tool not only for students at Elon University, but also for the outside community. There are small signs that label the plants, trees, and flowers in order to advocate environmental preservation, research and education. The upkeep is outstanding and is in part lead by Tom Flood, the director of landscaping and grounds. Including Tom Flood, there are about 24 employees that maintain the gardens and grounds. The gardeners at Elon work each year to increase the number of labels that are put on the plants. They also work to add more plants that are aesthetically pleasing, but also easily sustainable. The plants they choose require little care and need little nutrients so they can last longer without much effort being put into them.
Since the workers and gardeners are careful about the plant selection, they do not need to apply much fertilizer to them. Fertilizer is still necessary to the growth of some plants, so when they do use it they use a very scientific and minimal amount. Fertilizer is especially needed on big athletic fields and open grass areas on the campus. Before they apply fertilizer to any field, they take a tissue analysis test to ensure they use the exact amount necessary. For other smaller parts on campus, but that still have high use and visibility they apply an estimated amount. The fertilizer that is used is a custom blend that has a slow release of nitrogen, so that no other nutrients are released.
The water in the irrigation system throughout the Elon campus comes completely from reclaimed storm water. This usage of reclaimed storm water started in the 1980’s, and most of it goes into the three ponds on Elon’s campus, which is then connected to the irrigation system. For a while, this irrigation system only supplied a small portion of the campus, but by 2008 all of the primary irrigation systems were connected to the pond’s supply. There are many other beneficial factors to the irrigation system as well; not allowing sediment and other materials to enter nearby watersheds are some of these factors. Also the whole system is very efficient; there is a central control, there are flow meters, and it is connected to the weather station at Elon. This system not only benefits the gardens and wildlife by providing water, but it also benefits the world as they are conserving a lot of water.
Elon’s admirable appearance has not only been noticed by it’s local community members, but also by filmmakers. Spike Lee decided to film a few scenes from his movie “He got game” on the Elon Campus. The gardens of Elon have become famous due to its beauty and its cleanliness.
There is so much more life on the Elon campus besides vegetation; Elon is full of friendly animals that roam all throughout the grounds. Many students have commented on the large amount of squirrels that have taken over the campus. The acorns that come from the oaks attract these squirrels, so there is a compromise for having these lovely trees throughout the campus. Megan Griffin, a freshman on campus, claims that “the squirrels don’t run away and sometimes they will even approach you”. Another student, Hannah Houston, says “they jump from tree to tree above you and all these acorns fall and hit me on the head”. So this infestation of squirrels may come as annoyance to many people, but other find them adding to the beauty of the school. The students of Elon have also commented on the oddly high amount of hawks they have seen flying through the branches of the big oaks. The wildlife at Elon adds to the diversity that is so lively and pronounced as soon as you step on the campus.
Along with the gardens on campus, Elon has a community garden. The community garden consists of rows of vegetables and herbs next to the Academic Village at Elon University, and is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as wildlife habitat. The students and staff designated this area to local wildlife to find food, water, shelter and so on. With the camera they installed, they are able to see the different animals that come such as, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, etc. The garden also serves to feed the hungry at the Campus kitchen.
Hannah Houston-Freshman at Elon University
Megan Griffin-Freshman at Elon University-Biology Student
Signs on/in front of plants