Students Explore Sustainable Landscaping at WILD WestCo

Heather Whittemore ’17, who is working on campus this summer, enjoys occasional strolls through the WestCo. courtyard. “I like to check out what’s blooming,” she said.

Heather Whittemore ’17 enjoys strolling through the WestCo. courtyard. “I like to check out what’s blooming,” she said.

In 2011, the student organization WILD Wes (Working for Intelligent Landscape Design at Wesleyan), created WILD WestCo, a .75 acre sustainable landscaping initiative in the West College Courtyard. WILD Wes developed a landscape design and implementation plan following a permacultural ethic.

Today, the courtyard features more than 40 shrubs, dozens of fruit trees, two rain gardens, a rainwater catchment system, multiple wood chip pathways lined in rye, clover and buckwheat, a seating area, compost area and hundreds of perennials that draw birds, insects and other wildlife.

The landscape requires minimal resources and maintenance.

As a member of WILD Wes, Heather Whittemore ’17 frequents the courtyard daily throughout the summer.

“I’m really into flowers and gardening. Usually I am into more traditional gardening, but WestCo is really cool because it’s designed using permaculture principles that are much more sustainable and ecological than traditional gardening methods and design, which is important to me as an environmental studies major,” she said.

Photos of the courtyard on July 7 are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake MALS ’08)

Wesleyan's summer campus, July 2015. (Photo by Olivia Drake MALS '08)

California poppy is native to the United States and is the official state flower of California.

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Bee balm is attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds and of course, bees.

Swamp milkweed lines the courtyard's main trail.

Swamp milkweed lines the courtyard’s main trail.

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Purple echinacea, or the eastern purple coneflower, is native to eastern North America and thrives in sunny areas.

Wesleyan's summer campus, July 2015. (Photo by Olivia Drake MALS '08)

The garden features a seating area and several walking paths.

Plains coreopsis is often cultivated as a native plant for wildlife gardens and natural landscaping.

Plains coreopsis is often cultivated as a native plant for wildlife gardens and natural landscaping.

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The Prairie Fleabane is native to the continental U.S. and blooms from mid- to late spring on through most of the summer months.

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A bee collects nectar from a woodland sunflower. Thousands are blooming in the WILD Wes courtyard.

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The red poppy, also known as a common or field poppy, is a symbol of remembrance. Pictured is a flower and multiple poppy capsules.

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Daisies and other perennials draw multiple insects and birds to the courtyard.

Yarrow plants are remarkably durable, tolerating dry spells and low soil fertility.

Yarrow plants are remarkably durable, tolerating dry spells and low soil fertility.

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The garden cosmos is pollinated by birds and butterflies.