The recent New York Times article “Vassar Revives Garden Nurtured by Early Promoter of Native Plants” follows the efforts of Meg Ronsheim, professor of biology and environmental studies, who, with students, is resurrecting the Dutchess County Outdoor Ecological Laboratory, a four-acre plot on which the late plant science instructor Edith A. Roberts had endeavored to place every plant species native to Dutchess County. Roberts was an early advocate of native plants, which require fewer pesticides and less water to manage than imported species. The outdoor laboratory once contained “675 different species of trees, shrubs, vines, flowers, ferns, and mosses,” according to the article.
The plot lies adjacent to Vassar’s “bridge” building, currently under construction. The article details Ronsheim’s actions to mitigate the impact of the construction on plant life near the site as well as her efforts to restore the wetlands around the new science building, which will eventually straddle the Fonteyn Kill, a creek that runs through campus.
Photos ©Vassar College-Buck Lewis