McCrory Gardens offers place to relax


Anne Virigina Koepp

McCrory Gardens is a sight to behold while in bloom, and with spring here, more students are enjoying the budding blossoms. Planning for McCrory Gardens began in the early 1960s, according to the SDSU website. The current Sixth Street plot was chosen in 1966 and has been open to the public at no charge since.

The Gardens were named after Professor S.A. McCrory, horticulture department head from 1947 until he died in 1964.

McCrory had always hoped for a garden for research that displayed a diverse variety of flowers, trees and grasses. It has been the goal every year since to maintain the gardens with McCrory’s vision in mind.

The gardens now span about 20 acres of formal display and 45 acres of arboretum.

“We have annuals, perennials, vines, ground covers as well as trees and shrubs,” said Martin Maca, associate director for the gardens. Maca said the variety of plants must be in the hundreds. “We focus on plants that are hardy in our Zone Number Four climate and do well in the Northern Plains,” Maca said.

While the gardens boast beauty and serenity, they also serve as an outdoor teaching laboratory for students at SDSU. New research projects are started all the time and the ongoing testing of new woody plant selections has been a highlight of nearly three-quarters of a century.

Maca said new features are continuously being added. “A couple of years ago we added a straw bale structure and a new maintenance facility,” said Maca. “We are in the planning and design phase for a new visitor center and children’s garden.

The visitor center will be a great addition to the Gardens, allowing us to expand our educational outreach and learning opportunities.”

The new center will be able to host events for 200 people. Groundbreaking should take place early this fall. Students are encouraged to walk through the gardens and enjoy the beauty. Many students do already enjoy the gardens, even at all times of the year.

“I like the Gardens,” said Brandon DeBoer, a junior advertising major. “It is a really nice place to just go and relax and enjoy the outdoors.

“My fraternity takes a group picture there on our initiation day each year,” he said.

Chelsea Johnson, a sophomore advertProxy-Connection: keep-aliveCache-Control: max-age=0

ing and economics major from Mitchell, said she loves to take pictures at McCrory Gardens.

“I went there to see if I could get any good ideas for pictures and I walked out with nearly a full memory card,” Johnson said. Even though Johnson went to the gardens in early March, she said she still found them exciting.

“I love them. They’re gorgeous even when the flowers aren’t blooming,” she said.

Most of the work is seasonal with the majority of maintenance occurring from April to November.

“We do not plant annuals until after the recognized last frost date, which is usually around May 20,” said Maca. “Our first frost date is usually Sept. 20.”

McCrory Gardens has a director, Dr. David Graper, Associate Director, Martin N. Maca and Curator of the Arboretum, Dr. Peter Schaefer. There is also a full time grounds/crew supervisor. “We hire anywhere from eight to 15 summer interns that work mid-May until classes start,” Maca said.