Popping just in time for graduation weekend, the flower bed at the corner of Wallace Road and Osborn Drive reflects the sentiment of many at the conclusion of an academic year. Credit for the 2,500-tulip display goes to Aaron Brand, whose full-time job is to manage greenhouses for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Budget cuts at facilities planning and management about a decade ago forced campus services staff to relinquish management for this location. At the time, Brand managed greenhouses and other facilities for the agronomy department, and offered to add the corner bed to his duties.
"That's a gateway corner to the university, and it's important that it looks amazing, year in and year out," he said.
The inspiration for this layout?
"In the spring of 2019, I saw dozens of graduates in their caps and gowns taking pictures with the tulips. It just hit me that this is a place students grow to love, and I wanted to send the message to all of those taking pictures that ISU loves them as well," Brand said.
"So, I planted a very similar bed that fall -- but nobody really got a chance to see it the next spring due to the pandemic. This is the first time I have done a design over again."
He said he selects bulbs that he hopes will produce flowers at their prime during graduation week "and leaves the rest to Mother Nature."
When the tulip blooms fade, Brand will remove the bulbs and plant the bed for the summer season with zinnias and salvias, along with the giant miscanthus that stays in place through the winter.