What’s Your Favorite Flower? The Groundskeeper Wants to Know


Annette Ritzko, Web Editor

Lilies? Violets? Pansies? The campus groundskeeper wants to know the types of flowers students would like to see on campus.

“I really would love it if people cared to give us suggestions,” said Grounds Manager Laurie Finnegan.

Finnegan is the grand master planner who works within a budget, which means spending is based upon necessity. This year, she focused on two flower beds, one located on the sides of the steps between Gildea Hall and Banks, and the other at the new Nursing Building and Women with Children Residence on Lake Street.

“Each year we wouldn’t be able to fund landscaping every single bed, nor would we need to. We still put mulch down for commencement every year and we’ll add any shrubs or any perennials that have died over the winter. It’s the worst that gets fixed first,” said Finnegan.

The second the ground thaws from winter, Finnegan and her team set out to fill urns with flowers, which she buys from Darling’s Farms & Greenhouses in Dallas. The large planters are noticeable in front of each building, around Rosen Plaza, and around the fountain at the center of campus.

First year medical imaging major Madison Fleischman was awed by the beauty of the landscape, especially the fountain, during her first visit to campus

“I love it here. The campus is just relaxing, welcoming, and unbelievably beautiful,” Fleischman said. “My Snapchats are basically just the campus with hearts all over the place. The waterfall at the center of campus is just so unique, and I always Google it to show my friends,” she said.

Finnegan has some room for creativity, especially with the flowers she selects. She generally makes her picks according to what she thinks looks pretty, can survive the climate and is the cheapest.

“Some have asked why we plant so many marigolds, and the main reason is that they are the most affordable for the amount that we plant, but they’re also yellow, which is one of our school’s colors,” said Finnegan.

She said she tries to use purple or lavender flowers each year, too, because there is no true blue flower.

“There’s room for creativity, but most people ask why we use plant certain things. They never usually request for certain flowers, and we definitely would consider suggestions.”

Eddie Reynolds, catering supervisor at Metz Culinary, wishes bird feeders were  scattered around.

“The sights and sounds of Misericordia’s outside is always a great break for me, and I enjoy the beauty of the green grass and the flowers and this crazy species of bird that lives by Insalaco,” Reynolds. said.  “I am a bird fanatic, but I cannot tell you what kind of species they are, they just blow my mind. They’re in and out of the bushes all the time and I really enjoy watching them, they’re just a bit of relaxation in between my very busy schedule.”

Even if students, faculty and staff do not consciously notice the flowers, there always seems to be a subconscious reaction to them every spring.

“I enjoy planting the annuals, the baskets, and the planters the most because when they come out, when people see the flowers, they know summer is coming and they completely change their dispositions,” Finnegan said. “They honestly look happier when they see flowers, to the point that before the flowers, I wonder if the people who walk past us even know if our hearts our beating, but when the time comes to plant the flowers, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to finish planting because people will not stop talking to us,” said Finnegan.

Although not every person may stop to smell the roses, Finnegan and her team still receive an abundance of compliments, from President Thomas Botzman and many other in the campus community.

“One of the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Paulette, is such positive energy for both me and my staff, and I know she walks this campus because she truly loves it. She loves trees and nature and just all of it and we even dedicated a tree in her honor,” she said. “There are also others who love it too, because I always see people walking their dogs around and they’re happy to be here because they like the campus and how it looks and that makes us feel really good.”

One person who takes advantage of the dog-friendly environment is Nursing Clinical Specialist Cindy Nardi, who walks with her dogs Casper and Oreo.

“We live locally so it’s easy to come here with the dogs. The campus is always kept beautiful. Our facilities department really does a bang up job with keeping everything looking nice and clean. We love walking all through the campus, including out towards the sports fields, but the amphitheater is our favorite place because we love to play ball with our dogs here and students always pass by to say hi to them,” said Nardi.

However, work is not just puppies and marigolds for Finnegan and her team.  Some of her worst pet peeves in regards to the grounds are weeds, litter and people stomping on freshly planted grass.

“When we plant grass, we cannot get people to stay off of the dirt and the dirt is so fresh and so soft that footprints are so dramatic in it and you see them instantly. We even put a fence up and we still have people walk off the patio and onto the grass area,” said Finnegan.

Another time Finnegan can’t keep students off the lawn is during fertilization and pest-control.

“We have an integrated pest management program that is taken care of by Kalinosky Landscaping Inc. They come in three times a year and put down fertilizer, herbicide and pesticides. We post flyers 72 hours in advance on every building to stay off the lawn, but it’s still hard getting students to follow directions,” said Finnegan.

Finnegan understands that when the grass is fertilized that it’s during a really nice time of the year when students would want to be on the grass, but the fertilization starts to truly work just after winter, so there’s a reason they choose a specific date.

Although flowers may be the first thing most people notice, there are still a select few who set their eyes on bigger things.

“The weeping willow trees between Mercy and McDowell are my favorite part of campus, and they’re my favorite type of tree. I always like to look at them and walk underneath them,” said senior psychology major Lucien Nocelli.

The trees are almost literally the gateway to campus.

“I think when people first come on campus and they drive up the main drive and they see that alley of white pines, they’re wowed by that. I love the big trees that have a lot of character and that have been here for so many years, because you can’t replace them,” said Finnegan.