Native Plant Garden and Greenhouse

Girls in garden
Native Plant Garden

Native Plant Garden

UE's native plant garden (NPG) provides students and the Evansville community opportunities and experiences to engage with nature. Because the native plant garden has more than 100 species of native flowers just outside the Koch building, UE students have easy access when learning about plant taxonomy and diversity. In addition, a multitude of ecological interactions occur between plants and their herbivores in the NPG, as well as interactions between plants and their pollinators; students learn about these ecological interactions just outside of their classroom. In addition, horticultural groups have started to recognize the value of native plants in landscaping; this growing interest in native plants in the Evansville community is promoted through the native plant garden.

Community interest has provided an opportunity for UE students to educate the community with regard to the conservation value of native plants. One ChangeLab course, Monarchs and Milkweeds, used the NPG as a base to grow native milkweeds which were shared with the Evansville community as part of their educational outreach. A future ChangeLab course, People for Pollinators, will use the value of native bees and their need for native plants as an additional educational outreach to frame conservation issues. Both of these ChangeLab projects began with student-centered research with faculty members.

McCarthy Greenhouse

UE’s McCarthy Greenhouse provides a state-of -the-art facility for students to learn how to establish and maintain living plant collections. The plant collection provides an opportunity for students to learn about plant diversity and evolution and serves as a hands-on learning space for student research projects and UE ChangeLab experiences. In one ChangeLab course, students designed and planted three native plant gardens at Oak Hill Cemetery and Arboretum. These gardens provide habitat for native pollinators, beautify the cemetery, and provide a quiet natural space for mourning and reflection. The greenhouse also provides a venue for campus (University Garden) and community (Southwest Indiana Master Gardeners) outreach and relationship building.