Nestled on the far side of Barstow Hall, lies a building unlike any other on campus. Covered in simi-translucent windows, several large fans, and a garage door next to the exterior entrance, is UW-Superior’s Stanley W. Oexemann Greenhouse.
Featuring both tropical and subtropical plants from all over the globe, the greenhouse is essentially a rainforest. Home to a wide range of plants such as orchids, ferns, cacti, spores’ plants, air plants, and rhizomatous begonias to name a few.
When asked about all of the different plants in the greenhouse, Robbye Johnson, UWS’s previous greenhouse manager said, “We have a very diverse collection with a representation of all the different families. Our plants are from all over the world, we have stuff from every continent.”
Talking about the purpose of having so many different kinds of plants that are not naturally found in our environment Johnson said, “We try for diversity because it’s very interesting for classes, and to look at. Native stuff, they (students) can go outside and look at any time.”
What classes take advantage of the greenhouse? Johnson said, “This greenhouse is used to grow plants for the botany classes, taxonomy, the art classes have used it, photography has used it because of the shapes- colors. Wellness classes use it because plants help people. In winter it helps people because people need green! A lot more than they realize.”
Many current students may not be aware of the- greenhouse’s exitance due to it being in minimum operation for the past three years. Because of this Johnson was asked to come back to lend some of her 42 years of experience to newly hired Greenhouse Technician, Kate Stone.
While Stone is in her first year taking care of a greenhouse, she has had plenty of experience taking care of plants. “I have my own house plant shop. I have been in the production and care of them. I love talking to people and teaching them. I really enjoy being around people who also appreciate plants, like I do. So, this is really a dream job,” said Stone.
Over the past months, Stone has been undergoing the rigorous task of learning each name of the various plants in the greenhouse, along with beginning able to add her own touch, potting new plants, adding to the established collection.
“I’m just so excited to see people in here enjoying the plants. There’s a lot to learn in here especially about, finding what’s right for you,” said Stone in response to what she’s looking forward to adding, “The microclimates, to try to achieve that in non-constructive ways.”
The greenhouse has the ability to have an impact on everyone on campus, not just those involved in botany. On the topic of the greenhouse’s effect on members of the campus and why it’s important, Stone said, “The accessibility to this kind of environment, especially up here. So being able to experience it in a non-monetary way and can just enjoy it. What’s around you. Just enjoy what is not to collect. It’s just for the pure enjoyment/pleasure of plants. And curiosity, there are a lot of curious things in here, especially the Air Plants. It is open to all students and public”
Not only does the greenhouse offer educational help when it comes to plants and the care of plants, all of the options for classes, and the ability for mindfulness, but they also offer a free plant table. Marked by a sign off to the right when entering the greenhouse, students may feel free to take these plants home and care for them. There are several varieties to choose from, so be sure to find the one that’s right.
The greenhouse is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 to 12:30 p.m. But Johnson said, “If the door is open feel free to come in.”
Stone looks forward to continuing to improve her knowledge in the greenhouse in the coming years. Stone said, “Who knows maybe I’ll be here in 40 years, like Robbye.”