Since arriving at Le Moyne seven months ago, Kyle Gustin has truly left his mark on the 160-acre campus. His work is everywhere – the vibrant beds of impatiens and begonias, the neatly trimmed shrubs and the meticulous lawns. For Gustin, all of the planting, watering and weeding, and the careful planning that precedes it, is a labor of love.
A Canastota, N.Y., native, Gustin began work as a groundsperson at the College in February, having previously spent 14 years at Syracuse University, where he cared for the gardens at the chancellor’s residence. His interest in horticulture, though, dates back to his days as a high school student, when he worked for a landscaping firm owned by an uncle. That work “really drew him into the field,” he recalls. Gustin went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
What attracted him to Le Moyne in particular, he says, was the opportunity to work in the greenhouse attached to the Coyne Science Center. It is there that he grows about one-third of the 15 to 20 varieties of flowers planted on campus from seed, with the remainder coming from a greenhouse off campus.
When he first arrived at Le Moyne, Gustin began by exploring the campus, taking photos and making lists of flowers he wanted to use. He prefers to work with flowers with which he is familiar and with which he has had success in the past, as opposed to those that are high-maintenance, like geraniums. He also takes care not to waste resources, for instance, planting the flowers that had been used to decorate the stage at Commencement.
Gustin says that his first year on the Heights will be a learning experience as he decides what plants to use again and what to eliminate. Members of the Le Moyne community have certainly taken note of his work, stopping him to say “thank you” and to comment on how beautiful the campus looks. As for next year, Gustin would like to plant more perennials along with the annuals he’s used so far, but he doesn’t want to be too specific about what he has planned.
“I have a few surprises up my sleeve, so I’m pretty excited about next year,” he says.