New digs for CSU’s PERC garden

Photo Compliments of Colorado State University. Dr. Jim Klett and a CSU student work on relocation of perennials.

Marty Metzger

That well-known “April showers” cliché is a tardy phrase this year: May flowers (and all their subsequent months’ pals) arrived last November, compliments of Colorado State University (CSU).

The school’s new on-campus football stadium dictated that parking trump planting; the 36-year-old Plant Environmental Research Center (PERC) garden had to blossom elsewhere.

CSU’s Annual & Perennial Trial Garden had already found a new site some 10 years previously, on the old Fort Collins High School campus at the corner of Pitkin and Remington streets. That area was also the logical relocation spot for PERC.

Dr. Jim Klett, CSU Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, oversaw the move’s elaborate preparations. He advised that it took two students the entire summer of 2017 to label all 1000 perennial varieties. Beginning in September, eight to ten Bath Landscape employees pulled three individuals of each species to transplant. Two months later, PERC was safely settled into its new digs.

“We had close to a 90 percent survival rate from the transplant, which is very good,” advised Dr. Klett. “Then we had to hand-water over the winter with a hose from a frost-free hydrant.”

This great success certainly wasn’t by chance. Dr. Klett was awarded one of three Best Teacher Awards at CSU in 2017. An expert in his field, he counts the Trial Garden and new Perennial Garden among his most significant accomplishments.

In his 35th year at Colorado State University, Dr. Jim Klett diligently worked to relocate the school’s perennial trial garden. Photo Compliments of Colorado State University.

Now called the Perennial Garden at the University Center for the Arts (UCA), the former PERC’s dormant flowers patiently await their May through October blooming season. The large plot lies at the northwest corner of the UCA, directly across from the Trial Gardens; its enormous, dazzling display is highly visible from College Avenue.

Approximately 100 new perennial species have been added at the facility, as has a stunning water feature designed by Fort Collins landscape architect Russell Mills. Based on a design concept by Joe McGrane, CSU Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, three massive urns shoot water upwards to staggered heights. This impressive feature is boldly lighted at night.

The City of Fort Collins has officially designated the area the CSU/Fort Collins Garden and Arts District. Its entire botanical complex will serve as an outdoor learning center, complete with raised beds and berms, benches and sitting walls, gravel paths, a gazebo and stone patio. Dr. Klett expressed a hope that more outdoor sculptures will be added.

Art displays of all genres abound within surrounding buildings, and noteworthy performances will assure a bustling community atmosphere/tourist draw into the evening hours as well.

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