The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Spring blooms blossom on campus: Students reflect on the nostalgic natural canopy that covers Campus Walk

4 min read
White buds blossoming from several branches which opens up into the view of a belltower.

White buds have covered much of campus as the weather improves. Abbey Magnet | The Weekly Ringer


Staff Writer

There are many things that bring life to Mary Washington’s campus when spring approaches, such as playing frisbee on Ball Circle, sunny rugby games on the Battleground and picnics outside with friends. There is much blooming out of the cold winter, and the most lively of them by far is the beautiful tree and plant life surrounding us. If you take a look outside, you will see many trees beginning to blossom and flowers sprouting up. From the towering hollies outside of Ball Hall to the sprawling daffodils surrounding Combs, our campus is filled with life growing right below our feet.

Deciding on UMW

What drew you to Mary Wash? For many students, it was the natural beauty on campus. 

“Our campus canopy is the reason why many potential students and their parents are so taken with UMW when they first visit,” said Holly Chichester-Morby, the director of landscape and grounds at UMW. 

Tours in the spring can be the selling point for potential new Eagles. Our trees offer so much more than just aesthetics and beauty—they bring us together as a community. 

Some students were enamored with the campus’ beauty when they first toured, which contributed to the myriad reasons they wanted to attend UMW.

“My tour was during the spring season and there were flowers and trees everywhere, and I love that,” said freshman Nusibha Choudhury about her first impressions of the campus. 

She continued, “I know that for my mental health, walking around outside in nature is very helpful so that was one of the biggest things that drew me to UMW.”  

What the trees mean to us

“Trees give us a sense of place and even security. This encourages social interaction and friendships, a benchmark of the college experience,” said Chichester-Morby. 

Not only do our trees offer so much to us on campus, but they also allow us to connect with each other even more. 

Our grounds are beautifully maintained, which encourages community members to walk along and through our campus, often bringing their adorable children and dogs in tow. Their presence helps build a community connection that keeps UMW from being closed off from the rest of the Fredericksburg population. 

“Our UMW trees tether us to the community, not just the surrounding neighborhoods, but the entire City of Fredericksburg,” said Chichester-Morby. 

UMW’s urban forest:

Planting trees is an ongoing mission at Mary Washington. 

“Last year we planted 30 trees on the main campus in partnership with Friends of the Rappahannock,” said Chichester-Morby. 

Not only is planting trees a requirement of the University’s association with the National Arbor Day Tree Campus Higher Education fund—of which we are one of only ten colleges in the state to be a part—but it also offers many opportunities for students to build strong connections while leaving their mark on campus. 

“In years to come, they can visit the campus trees they planted and check the progress, knowing they’ve played a big part in enhancing our UMW urban forest,” said Chichester-Morby. 

We as students have many opportunities to get involved in making our campus even more green. There is the UMW Tree Festival in October and Arbor Day, which is part of Earth Week in April. 

“Both events provide opportunities for students to earn some sweat equity, so to speak, and help us plant trees for the future,” said Chichester-Morby. 

Planting trees is essential to creating the campus environment that UMW strives for. 

“Our campus’s commitment to planting trees shows that we prioritize the environment especially because the trees are native all throughout, as well as other native plants [and] flowers,” said freshman Lucy Hagerman. 

Welcoming spring’s gifts

As colleges and universities continue to prioritize sustainability and student well-being, integrating and preserving trees within campus landscapes must remain a key priority. 

By recognizing and investing in the value of trees, colleges can create greener, healthier and more vibrant environments that enrich our future. Trees provide numerous benefits, ranging from enhancing the physical environment to improving mental health and fostering a sense of connection with nature as well as each other. 

As a college, we have a unique opportunity to lead by example in nurturing and safeguarding the natural resources that sustain us all. We must continue to appreciate, protect and celebrate the invaluable role of trees in shaping the character and vitality of our campus. Mary Washington would not be the same without its trees and we must do our best to appreciate and nurture the environment that we have created here.