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Seattle University


Oh La La!

Written by Mike Thee and Annie Beckmann
June 23, 2011

Ciscoe Morris returned to the campus June 21 to lead a tour of the gardens he laboriously and lovingly tended over many years. For the ever-effervescent former SU grounds manager, it was literally a walk down memory lane. 

Without taking a breath, Morris favored the group of 20 with one vignette after another over the course of two and a half hours. One second, the landscaping legend pointed out some of the plants he had put in the ground and explained his reasons for doing so. The next, he sang the praise of male hummingbirds: “Male hummingbirds do nothing but protect their territory and mate. My kind of job,” he laughed. 

The virtuoso of vegetation also shared his personal memories of chain-sawing ivy off Garrand and learning a pack of rats charged into the building through windows that were left open during the ivy removal. He also recalled climbing to the peak of the sequoia tree outside Pigott to find a solution that kept the tree top from splitting in two. “That giant sequoia is actually a baby. Eventually it will ruin the foundation of Pigott and they’ll have to move Pigott,” he said.  

“It was a great tour, the evening was perfect and the landscapes were in peak form,” said Janice Murphy, integrated pest management coordinator. “Some of the trees that Ciscoe planted are now very mature, so he was amazed to see their growth. He has such a unique way of mixing humor and history and plant information that the time passed so quickly. It was a delightful time.”  

The garden tour was put on by SU’s grounds department, with proceeds going to Professionals Without Boundaries in support of the organization’s service projects in developing countries. 

Morris, who led SU’s grounds department for 23 years, is widely credited with beautifying the campus and pioneering the use of eco-friendly practices. In 2008, the university honored his indelible contributions to SU’s natural landscape by naming the garden behind Loyola Hall the Ciscoe Morris Biodiversity Garden.