Kansas State University Gardens to add new features

On Wednesday Sept. 28, a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the new reflecting pools was held at the University Garden. (Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State University Gardens moved locations in 1978, and lost its reflecting pool in the process; however, this element will return to the gardens early next year, Scott McElwain, director of the gardens, said. 

“While it’s not an exact replica of the reflecting pool that was in the old gardens, the design actually allows us to be able to incorporate some aquatic plant material, but still not interfere with the reflecting element that is part of that project,” McElwain said.

Along with the reflecting pool, two additional aquatic plant pools are joining the gardens and will be set in the ground on either side of the reflecting pool, McElwain said. 

“The reflecting pool is … going to be a chlorinated feature, very shallow with infinity pool ends. So, as you walk up, you’ll be looking down on the plant material,” McElwain said. “The reflecting pool will be elevated so it’ll be right around most people’s knee level.”

According to the K-State Gardens website, the gardens held a groundbreaking ceremony for this project at the end of September. 

“We had an afternoon groundbreaking ceremony where we were able to actually put some shovels in the ground and turn some soil over there with our donors,” McElwain said. 

McElwain said construction will start before the end of October.

“McCownGordon is the contractor,” McElwain said, “They’ve given us a kind of a timeline … depending on the weather, we should be done in January or by mid-February.”

McElwain said donations made this project possible, and the Friends of the Gardens Board helped fundraise. 

“We had two families that had contributed to the reflecting pool. So that reflecting pool will be named after those two families,” McElwain said. “Then we had two other families that actually contributed and sponsored each of the aquatic plant pools.”

There are also plans to extend the gardens into the north.

McElwain said this plan depends on if the gardens can raise enough funds to expand, and if the university reallocates the Davenport Building, which is currently north of the gardens. If this expansion occurs, the reflecting pool will reflect both the new, and existing areas of the gardens, McElwain said. 

“As you look through that reflecting pool, either from the north or the south, you’re gonna have a beautiful reflection of the gardens on that center axis that runs in a north-south orientation,” McElwain said.

Mia Staley, freshman in architecture, said she sees the gardens as an escape.

“It’s really pretty,” Staley said. “I think it’s an underrated area that doesn’t get that much attention.”

Alex Stanton, University Gardens volunteer and senior in horticulture, said his friends think the gardens are an icon of Manhattan, and the reflecting pool will be a unique addition. 

“I think it’ll be a very iconic thing for a lot of people to come see.  I think, once it gets rolling, it’ll be a constant attraction,” Stanton said.

Stanton said he likes the concept of water spilling over the side of the reflecting pool.

“Anytime you have running water, that automatically calls people. It soothes people,” Stanton said. “And I think that’ll just make the Garden an even more enjoyable place to be because it’ll be some of that natural noise, and it’ll kinda distract from everything going on on the road and just help you escape into this little bit of paradise while not going far from campus. The whole thing is just a beautiful project.“