Celebrating 35 Years at the UT Gardens

Celebrating 35 Years at the UT Gardens


I’ve been here for 35 years and it just
seems like yesterday that I was hired by Dr. Doug Crater and he brought with him
this vision idea of a plant evaluation program. We’d get the seed in the mail
and Sue would take them and plant them in flats- different flats- I’ve never had
anybody to say yes if you’ll do it this would be great for the university, and we
didn’t know that it was going to be great for the University we just wanted
to have some information to tell the growers out across the state. It started off as an idea and now we
have the opportunity to create something that is intentional about where we want
to go with it. We’ve had some key individuals make some very significant gifts and endowments to the garden. We’ve enjoyed the gardens many years and in
the last Oh 15 or 20 years my wife and I have traveled around a lot and she was
especially fond of rose gardens and we decided that Knoxville area East
Tennessee needed some rose gardens Without donor support in a system like
ours for the gardens this just simply does not go well. We have really been able to do so many things with the help of donor support. Well we are proud that
it honors Mary Ann Bell and keeps alive the good memories of her in the fact
that it’s doing something in her memory for the community. It’s a really great example of the land-grant mission and teaching research and extension. It brings all those things
together in one place and and it’s probably one of the greatest examples at
least to me on the campus where all of them come together. Well I know dr. DiPietro was was very important in the and really the starting I would say of
the new structure of the UT garden system. So let me tell you a little bit
about dr. DiPietro. I don’t know how many people know that he’s a gardener. I love planting salad gardens; I’d love to grow tomatoes and you know my dad’s and my grandfather’s all did that too so something to learn growing up. His vision in organizing the way he did the gardens is that he really did set us up to earn
or be awarded the status of the state Botanical Gardens of Tennessee. I think it’s important to the great land-grant institutions like the Institute of
Agriculture connect across the state and so being named the state Botanical
Garden is very fitting from the standpoint of it being a statewide
enterprise that being institute of Ag and when I was Chancellor I thought that
was a good thing it didn’t come to fruition till I got into this job and I
think you have to realize that we have two other components to this garden one
in Crossville and one in Jackson that served those regional areas as well but
this one is the crown jewel of the three For me, it goes back to more recent times
with his time here in the Institute of Agriculture and even now as president of
the system I want him to know what a difference he’s made for me as the
director and what a difference he’s made in this gardens for everybody that comes, enjoys, learns, and uses the gardens. I think we’ve just got sort of the tip
of the iceberg right now. If I had a vision for the next 10 to 15 years we
would develop an educational center there- a true building and facility. We’ve
taken a look at that a number of times we just need the right people to help us
with that. 35 years it’s really fascinating to see how that started and how its really become the showcase after 35 years. Wow when you look now 35
years later how its evolved it’s exciting and amazing. This is just it just floors you how much it’s grown. We took a little area you know that was
as wide as this cover here and what we say 60 feet long hundred feet long and
thirty feet wide and now you look around there’s plants everywhere so it’s a change but I love to see it.

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