Considering the constraints on funding for higher education in Utah, how does Southern Utah University manage to afford thousands of flowers - the annual variety - for landscaping every spring?

Easy. Grow your own.SUU has its own greenhouse and horticulture classes and 10 to 15 students taking those classes at any given moment who raise and transplant the flowers as part of their course work. The vast majority of the flowers seen on campus in spring and summer are the direct result of the class projects.

The operation is run by Jim Crouch, who is not only the greenhouse attendant but helps instruct Horticulture 200, an introductory course, and Horticulture 305, the greenhouse practicum.

Crouch, who has extensive greenhouse and nursery background, also is a biology technician for the life sciences department.

According to Crouch, the most common types of flowers raised for spring landscaping are geraniums, alyssum, marigolds and petunias - the latter two noted for their attractive and colorful flowers that bloom throughout the warm season.

Students plant the seeds between mid-January to the first of February, with the flowers ready for transplanting by late April. Geranium cuttings are started in the fall and grown through the winter.

The horticulture work has an extra attraction for Crouch and his students - even in January, it's spring inside the 2,400 square-foot greenhouse. Some rooms even contain cactus and exotic tropical plants used in botanical study, providing what seems like a temporary escape to the tropics during the frigid winter months.

The completion of spring transplanting doesn't end the role of the greenhouse. Throughout the summer, decorative baskets and hanging baskets of plants, flowers and ferns are provided for the Utah Shakespearean Festival and provided for various buildings and offices on campus.

"It works out to be educational as well as adding to the aesthetic value of the campus." Crouch said. "It gives students practical experience in horticulture as well as in commercial-type greenhouse operation."