Garden exploration

Sep 17th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus News, Issue, September 17, 2009

book cover

Levine creates online presence for arboretum

Emily Levine has rolled her love for plants and history into a new Web site dedicated to campus gardens.

The UNL Gardens site,, offers information primarily on the Maxwell Arboretum. Anchored by photos of campus plantings, the site outlines prime bloom times, plant and tree types and locations on campus, the history of campus landscapes, book reviews and other landscape information.

“UNL Gardens grew out of a need for this type of information, primarily for use in Agronomy and Horticulture courses,” said Levine. “It was an idea I cooked up two years ago next month.”

Levine has worked in a variety of UNL roles since her first job as a darkroom technician for ag communications in the mid 1970s. The bulk of her UNL career has been in Landscape Services, where she worked up to become grounds supervisor for the Maxwell Arboretum.

Her campus roots draw down even further as her parents were both UNL professors.

Emily Levine
Emily Levine, special projects research horticulturist with Agronomy and Horticulture, stands on the bridge leading into UNL’s Maxwell Arboretum. Levine created a new Web site that features a variety of aspects of the arboretum, including the plants, trees and history.

Levine accepted her current post as a special horticulture projects research assistant after outlining the Web site concept to Friends of the Maxwell Arboretum, the UNL Botanical Gardens Association and Agronomy and Horticulture administrators.

The UNL Gardens site features historic information Levine gathered in the University Archives and while working for Landscape Services.

“When you are in landscaping, it’s easy to become intimately connected to what you are working on,” said Levine. “You get a real sense of how something pretty exceptional was built right here. And, it all started with Charles Bessey.”

The site also features Levine’s own photography and observations about what plants are coming into bloom.

“The hope is this site becomes a resource for faculty, staff, students and the public,” said Levine. “Bottom line is I love this campus and I want others to come and see how wonderful it is as well.”

The site is already gaining recognition among agronomy and horticulture faculty. Kim Todd, associate professor of agronomy and horticulture, uses the site as a reference in plant identification courses, planting design and landscape management, and in two 800-level courses (one is a distance course).

“The UNL Gardens Web site is one that celebrates the beauty of the landscape and the science of the institution,” said Todd. “Emily’s writing, her research capabilities, and her photography have been combined in this site that demonstrates the connectivity between the arts and the humanities and horticulture. The intricate ways in which plants are woven through literature and history, the ways in which scientific principles and miracles are displayed, are all celebrated in this Web site.”

— Story and photo by Troy Fedderson, University Communications

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