By Jonah Svihus /// Staff Writer
The first phase of renovations to the rock garden located between the Fields Center and the Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art on the academic side of campus, which included the removal of one diseased tree and one rotten tree, were finished at the end of January.
An anonymous donor gifted money to the school with the explicit purpose of renovating the rock garden. The new renovation makes the previously rocky and uneven terrain compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, opening the area to a wider range of the Lewis & Clark community.
When asked about donors prioritizing landscaping and grounds, many students had mixed feelings about the appropriation of funds.
“The donor is probably the Sanders 2016 campaign trying to get grassroots support from our highly politically attuned student body,” said Asher Kalman ’18.
“It could go to more pertinent needs,” added Lilly Donnell ’18. “We have a pretty campus already. We need donors to remember the students more than the rocks.”
“I literally don’t give a [expletive removed],” Emma Biddulph ’17 said, with casual indifference.
The new renovation included the removal of two large, rotting trees.
The first tree was a maple which was removed due to safety issues.
“The maple wasn’t receiving any sunlight because of the larger trees surrounding it,” Assistant Grounds Supervisor Bradley Ashwell said. “We hired an outside arborist to test the tree for disease or decay. When the results came back, the maple had verticillium wilt in it.”
Verticillium wilt, a ground fungus that disrupts the normal functions of water transporting cells, causes the tree to brown and dry out, according to the City of Portland’s guide to diseased trees.
“The verticillium wilt dries the tree out and makes the branches brittle, which causes a safety issue to people who work near or walk past the tree,” Ashwell said.
The second tree, which towered over part of the cobblestone walkway that splits the lawn and the reflecting pool, was an Australian pine which was suffering from wood rot. The pine was removed and used for an art piece by Cuban artist Rafael Villares titled “Eco #10” now on display in the Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art.
“The artist had contacted Lewis & Clark months before he arrived looking for a tree stump that had the whole root flare,” Ashwell said, referring to the root structure being left intact and attached to the stump. Eventually, Grounds Maintenance and Villares were able to coordinate using the diseased pine as an art piece for the “Intersecciones: Havana / Portland” art exhibit.
While the current rock garden is sparsely populated with plants and flower beds, the Grounds Maintenance department hopes to start planting as soon as the weather is warmer. To help with the planting process, they added drip irrigation to the area which allows greater efficiency when watering.
“We may add another bench,” added Ashwell. “It is our hope that people will be able to enjoy this space on our campus now that it is well lit, ADA accessible, and more landscaped than it was before.”