When Texas Tech University students return from spring break they are greeted with the beautiful sight of red and yellow tulips marking the beginning of spring. Every November, tulips are planted all over Tech’s campus in preparation for the following spring.
“The tulips are just another way to show our Red Raider spirit.”
Lauren Ottmers, a sophomore agricultural business major from Boerne, Texas, says the tulips brighten up campus.
“The spring is my favorite time on Tech’s campus, because of the tulips,” Ottmers said. “The tulips add an extra pop of color to the campus that other campuses don’t have.”
Charles Leatherwood is the managing director for grounds maintenance at Texas Tech. Leatherwood attended Tech 38 years ago and worked his way up from a student assistant to his current position.
“We take a lot of pride in our grounds, because to me, we’re the first step in recruiting students, faculty, and or staff,” Leatherwood said. “We’re the first thing they see when they drive on campus. That’s why we work so hard on our beds and everything else.”
Last November, it took 98 crew members two weeks to plant 58,600 tulip bulbs across Texas Tech’s campus, including 8,300 golden and 50,300 Appledoorn varieties. These tulips grow anywhere from 14-18 inches tall, with a large flower head and strong stem. Golden and Appledoorn tulips are the most weather resistant of all garden tulips, standing up to the high winds and cool winters of West Texas.
“As soon as the soil temperature warms up enough,” Leatherwood said, “that’s when they start coming up.”
The planting and maintenance of the tulips if founded by an endowment set up by Debra Montford. The wife of former Texas Tech Chancellor, John Montford.
“Mrs. Montford set up an endowment for campus beautification,” Leatherwood said. “We get a few dollars off of that every year, and the rest of it comes out of my annual plant budget.”
Tulips are purchased from the Netherland Bulb Company located in Eastern Pennsylvania. New bulbs are planted each year, as they are too difficult to store on campus.
Spring tulips are one of many traditions, dating back to 1982, that people enjoy and look forward too every year on Texas Tech campus.
“The tulips are just another way to show our Red Raider spirit,” Ottmers said.