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Archive for Friday, April 29, 2011

Campus blooms with help from Kansas University flower crew

Thane Haug has been on the flower crew at Kansas University for eight years, back when it first started. The crew is responsible for planting the flowers on campus, but has many other duties, including removing snow and keeping Jayhawk Boulevard clear of trash.

April 29, 2011

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Thane Haug

  • Age: 33
  • Position: On flower-planting crew at Kansas University
  • Years on the crew: Eight
  • Best part of the job: “We’re one of the luckiest crews, because we hear more compliments than complaints.”
  • Least favorite part of the job: Pulling weeds
Thane Haug is one of five members of Kansas University's flower crew, who plant thousands of flowers on campus every year.

Thane Haug is one of five members of Kansas University's flower crew, who plant thousands of flowers on campus every year.

A bed of tulips soak up the spring sun and greet KU students exiting Strong Hall Monday, April 11, 2011. A five-person team of KU staff is responsible for changing the flower beds seasonally on campus.

A bed of tulips soak up the spring sun and greet KU students exiting Strong Hall Monday, April 11, 2011. A five-person team of KU staff is responsible for changing the flower beds seasonally on campus.

Only in Lawrence 2011

A special section honoring your neighbors, unsung heroes and people who do the little things that just make life better in Lawrence.

Only in Lawrence 2011: Community

Read about the honorees for the 2011 Only in Lawrence: "Community" category.

Thane Haug is an artist with a couple of nails, some string and a can of spray paint. Those are the simple tools it takes to make a perfect bed of tulips.

Haug, 33, is one of five people on Kansas University’s flower crew, which plants 10,000 tulip bulbs and 5,500 annuals on campus every year. Those recognizable flowers that blanket campus aren’t the team’s only responsibility, though. The crew keeps Jayhawk Boulevard free of trash, removes snow during the winter and generally keeps the campus’ main street looking nice.

Haug joined the flower crew eight years ago, when Facilities Operations put together a separate team for flowers.

“Before that, they had just any crew do it,” he said. “Things weren’t turning out right.”

Now the crew plants all the flowers, and each member specializes. Haug is the one who strings out lines and spray paints the lines so all the tulips will be planted in a straight row.

He says it’s important to make the beds look as beautiful as they do. And they plant for a week straight.

The crew plants the 12 to 15 tulip beds in October and hopes for them to bloom around Easter.

Mike Lang, campus landscape manager, said the formal areas around campus get a lot of the focus from the flower crew, such as in front of Strong and Smith halls, the Chi Omega fountain and the chancellor’s residence.

“It puts on quite a display each spring,” he said. “It really brightens campus up.”

Haug said every bed on campus was different, and crew members had preferences to what they liked to plant. The flowers impress parents when they come to visit campus.

“We’re one of the luckiest crews, because we hear more compliments than complaints,” Haug said.

When the tulips die, the crew replaces them with a new bed of annuals, Lang said.

What’s the boring part of the job?

Pulling weeds.

“We’re constantly pulling weeds, so it does get old quick,” Haug said.

When Haug goes home at night, he has a garden to tend to there as well. He grows flowers as well as vegetables.

He loves what he does.

“It’s different every day,” he said. “It’s unlike an office job.”

When Haug isn’t planting flowers on the job, he’s often fertilizing the beds, which happens once or twice per week. The crew also removes snow, especially the sand that is put on the roads, and clears Jayhawk Boulevard of trash every morning soon after starting work at 6:30 a.m.

Lang said the crew is also responsible for catching any animals that might meander onto campus, including squirrels, bats, skunks, foxes, opossums and raccoons.

But Haug’s No. 1 love is the flowers, and how they positively reflect on KU.

“Very few universities do it up like we do,” he said.

Comments

blindrabbit 3 years, 7 months ago

Tulips are perennials that are treated like annuals; so good bulbs are disposed of while still having value! How does KU dispose of the bulbs once they are removed from the flower beds? Hopefully, they are used or given away rather than being trashed; by-the-way, I'd accept some! Campus looks great!!

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