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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE garden nears completion

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Karmien Bowman, art associate professor, works on a koi fish sculpture to be used in the Agora Japanese garden. Casey Holder/The Collegian

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

Karmien Bowman, art associate professor, works on a koi fish sculpture to be used in the Agora Japanese garden.
Casey Holder/The Collegian

A Japanese flavor has arrived on NE Campus in the form of a garden on the north side of the Student Center, courtesy of the NE groundskeeping crew.

The garden called Agora, a Greek word for meeting place, underwent major changes last fall and will be complete later this semester.

“This past August … I was told to go ahead with the design,” lead groundskeeper John Tilley said. “Actual installation started mid/late October, and it’s pretty much finished.”

The construction included clearing out the remnants of unsuccessful attempts by previous groundskeeping crews at getting growth started around the tree and then bringing in compost to replace it. The NE groundskeepers then brought in three Japanese maples, recycled glass chips to represent a pond and cast-iron plants, extremely durable Asian houseplants, and installed them into the garden.

There’s more work to be done. More cast-iron plants will be bought to fill in the garden. Art associate professor Karmien Bowman is currently working on concrete koi fish, Japanese symbols of wisdom and prosperity, to go in the pond.

“I’m in the process of sculpting a fish that can be seen as if in the water from the top,” Bowman said. “It’ll be fun to have some on campus.”

Tilley won’t be satisfied until the Agora is complete.

“Once the plants are in, and it looks like it did in my head,” Tilley said, “that’s when I sit back and go, ‘all right.’ Then it’s on to the next one.”

The crew had to be resourceful getting the materials for this construction.

“It’s a very slow process,” Tilley said. “Over the past year, every department had budget cuts.”

The materials weren’t just affordable — most of them were free. The cast-iron plants already in place were donated as surplus from other campuses. Concrete cylinders now surrounding the tree were free surplus from area concrete companies that normally throw them out.

The Agora isn’t the only garden the NE groundskeepers are installing. Starting with the music-note garden on the east end of the Fine Arts Building a couple of years ago, the groundskeeping crew has worked around the campus, redesigning the Children’s Center playground to meet regulations and putting in a garden near the Communication Arts Building. And they’re far from finished.

“We’re currently working on a flower garden located between NHSC and NSCE,” Tilley said.

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