Landscape designed by Beatrix Farrand at the Graduate College.
Exotic and native plants, shrubs, and trees get their start in Princeton University’s greenhouses and nursery
By Ilene Dube | Photography by Jeffrey E. Tryon
a bitterly cold day on the Princeton University campus, and the wind is whipping plastic flaps around the greenhouses. Landscape architect Devin Livi uses his special key to let us inside, where the air is warm and moist. I feel like I’ve left winter for the tropics. Flats of potted vinca and ivy are a reminder that we’re on an Ivy League campus.
“When we’re done with the tour,” I find myself telling Livi, “I’m not leaving.”
“It’s a great job,” he admits.
He takes me to another greenhouse, where he lifts a plastic screen. It’s like peering through a portal to spring. There is coleus, orchids, lantana, euphorbia, even Einstein’s begonia. “Everything is hand-watered,” Livi says as fans spin above, spreading the most air.
At the time of my visit this past winter, Livi, who is the associate director, grounds, was more focused on snow removal and salting than in the orders he’d placed for bulbs and spring plants — his crew of 45 handles everything from maintaining lawns to planting and pruning. “None of this would be possible without our dedicated crew,” he says. “One generation passes along knowledge to the next.” more