A Walk-About the Topeka & Shawnee County Library

It is a beautiful Kansas day.The sun is shining and there is a light southerly breeze. What a great day to do a walk-about with Coop, the Library’s Maintenance Associate Extraordinaire. Coop has worked fulltime at the library since May 1996 taking care of the Library’s landscape.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Gilbraltar Bush Clover is a deciduous shrub that has an arching, fountain-like habit. It can grow up to 5′ tall and 10′ wide in a single growing season. It blooms from August to September with arching rosy purple stems. The bush grows well in full sun to part shade. It tolerates drought.

This bush can be seen on the northwest corner of the library.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThree Bald Cypress line the dock driveway. This is a majestic tree with soft ferny foliage that is a popular ornamental addition to many landscapes. The Bald Cypress is the legendary tree of the Deep South. As a deciduous conifer, the leaves drop off in the autumn and its cones are round balls that release their seeds in autumn and winter. In the fall the foliage will turn orange to brown.

These trees are on the north side of the driveway.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe White Pine is a hardy, valuable tree which is an ideal candidate for landscaping and windscreens.This tree likes moist, well-drained soils and will grow 50′-80′ high with a 20′-40′ spread. White pine seeds are favored by rabbits, squirrels and many birds. White Pines are widely used as Christmas trees.

Located on the northwest corner.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Goldenrod Fireworks is a showstopper which throws out arching horizontal spires of flowers. It looks like the entire bush is full of golden-yellow fireworks. This bush is a tough long-blooming perennial that thrives in heat, tolerates both a dry and moist site and attracts wildlife.Goldenrod is often blamed for aggravating hay fever, but the real culprit is ragweed, which blooms at the same time.

Located on the northwest corner. Coop, who is also pictured, is very knowledgeable about the plants located on the library’s grounds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe bushes on the left are Virginia Sweetspire. They are a deciduous shrub which grows 3-4′ tall. In early summer the shrub has fragrant, tiny white flowers which are 3-6″ spires. The oval, dark green leaves turn a garnet red in the fall which could last until December.

On the right, are the Red Feather Viburnum. This bush offers interest across the season. In the spring the foliage has dark green veins fading to lustrous green with showy white flowers. In the fall the bush has bluish-black berries. This is a low maintenance bush that will attract birds.

Both bushes are located in the northwest corner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Serviceberry is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Some species grow as small trees while others are clump-forming shrubs. The leaves are deciduous and the flowers, pink, yellow or streaked red, appear in early spring. The fruit, red, purple to nearly black mature in the summer and can be eaten by humans and wildlife.

Located on the north side of the library.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough technically a tree, these three Merrill Magnolias could be grown as large shrubs. This tree is a perfect size to plant outside windows where a person can enjoy the large star-like flowers in early spring. The Merrill Magnolia is an American hybrid developed at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston and introduced in 1939.

Located on the east side of the library outside Youth Services.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Royal Purple Smoke Bush is one of the most charming plants for spring-to-fall beauty. The foliage opens a warm red, then deepens to a rich purple in summer and in the fall turns a golden-orange. Feathery purple plumes of flowers appear in midsummer, topping the leaves with soft clouds of color.

Located on the east side of the library.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEight Crimson Spire Oaks were recently planted in front of the library. These fast growing, cold hardy, drought tolerant and disease resistant trees adapt to varied soils and tough urban growing conditions. The Crimson Spire Oak has the best characteristics of its White and English Oak heritage. The rich, dark green leaves stay bright through the heat of summer, turning rusty red to bright red in mid to late autumn.

Coop enjoys working in the outdoors making the library an inviting place to visit. Upcoming projects include working on the irrigation system and improving the parking lot islands.

7 thoughts on “A Walk-About the Topeka & Shawnee County Library

  1. Gayle, this is great! Thanks for your research and for interviewing Coop. I especially appreciate the Bald Cypress trees and the butterfly attracting flowering plants.

  2. Coop deserves a standing ovation for his wonderful landscaping! I’ve sometimes told him how much I like a certain plant he’s put out, but I’m so glad Gayle is getting the word out on our talented landscaper. The question is though, Coop, how come you never get sunburned??

  3. I have often admired The Royal Purple Smoke Bush for its many colors, but didn’t know its name. Now I do. Thanks Gayle and Coop!

  4. Thanks for the informative article, Gayle! It’s great to know the names of the beautiful trees and bushes around the library. An thank you, Coop, for the great job you do keeping the library grounds so beautiful!

  5. This is great, Gayle! I’ll be looking at our beautiful grounds with a much more informed eye from now on. 🙂

  6. Thanks, Gayle! I always wondered what that Royal Purple Smokebush was. Such an interesting plant/bush/tree. Thanks for the walk!

  7. Thanks Gayle for the glowing blog. If any staff member or customer ever has a question about our landscaped areas, they only need ask. I try to make the landscape look sharp and well kept as best as 1 man can.
    Mark R. I don’t burn… I’m from Jersey… Thanks for any and all compliments, they are appreciated gang!!!

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