Stanley Oexemann Greenhouse Creates Winter Tropical Experience

The fall col­ors are fad­ing fast, and native Wis­con­sin plants are say­ing good­bye for the year. How­ever, the plants at UW-Superior’s Stan­ley Oex­e­mann green­house are still lively and col­or­ful. The new green­house has been home to over one hun­dred of plants, 99 per­cent of which are trop­i­cal and subtropical.

It took most of the month of May to move the plants into their new home. The care­taker of these unique and col­or­ful plants is Rob­bye John­son, who started with the old green­house in 1976. She explained that the new green­house is taller than the old, which is good for the taller plants. Another advan­tage is that the new green­house isn’t glass, but rather a plas­tic ther­mal mate­r­ial, and dou­ble walled. Another fea­ture of the green­house is the auto­matic shad­ing which pro­tects the plants from harsh bright light and soft­ens the light, which the plants love and crave.

Green­house con­struc­tion was a part of the Swen­son Hall project, which replaced two of UW-Superior’s older build­ings, McCaskill and Sundquist.  Because the green­house was attached to McCaskill there was need for a new green­house as well. Nicholas Danz, asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of Plant Sci­ences and Ecol­ogy, said “the mechan­i­cal equip­ment was no longer there [McCaskill Hall] to pro­vide power for the green­house,” this was the main rea­son to cre­ate this new green­house. Tom Fen­nessey, direc­tor of Facil­i­ties Man­age­ment, described the new green­house as being slightly smaller than the old house, but more energy and space effi­cient. The spe­cific cost of the green­house con­struc­tion is hard to know since it was a part of the over­all Swen­son Hall project but the cost to oper­ate the green­house will be lower because of its updated struc­ture and energy effi­ciency, Fen­nessey said.

The goal of the new green­house is to attract more vis­i­tors with its mod­ern design. Vis­its aren’t lim­ited to nat­ural sci­ence stu­dents, but open to all stu­dents inter­ested in tak­ing in the expe­ri­ence of exotic plants that don’t grow­ing dur­ing the tra­di­tion­ally cold fall and win­ter months. “If the door is open, the green­house is open” said John­son. She is there from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. most week­days and is avail­able to answer ques­tions about the green­house plants. Bring a piece of the green­house back home with you, with one of the free plants she has to offer.

The fusion of sev­eral dif­fer­ent plant fra­grances along with the humid­ity gives the vis­i­tor a sense of walk­ing through a trop­i­cal gar­den, some­thing you can’t expe­ri­ence on a reg­u­lar day in the North­land. It makes for a per­fect place to visit, espe­cially in the win­ter when you feel like you need to escape the snowy, cold weather and feel like you’re some­where tropical.

Hansen, Fen­nessey and green­house staff worked together to cre­ate a short time-lapse video of the green­house move. The Stinger has pro­vided a link to the Face­book video below

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