Working outside always seems desirable ... until it’s -10° out. U of M Gardener Paul Kline knows he has to take the bad with the good in the land care business.
“People come up and say I wish I had your job,” said Kline. “Not when it’s below zero and we’re out picking-up trash. The summers pay off, though. I think the best time is sunrise in the summer over by Pleasant Avenue. It’s quiet and everything’s perfect.”
Kline has been gardening most of his life. His mom had the best garden in their Roseville neighborhood growing up. She got her green thumb from Paul’s grandparents who had a large garden and grew all their own vegetables. Grandma cultivated the flowers while grandpa focused on canning apple sauce, pickling cucumbers and making tomato sauce.
The early exposure to gardening led Kline to get a degree in horticulture from 916 Area Vocational/Technical Institute (now Century College) after graduating from Ramsey High School. He then spent 10 years with a lawn service before reuniting with a former supervisor at the U in 1996.
While Kline occasionally hears comments about his plantings, he takes great pride in them when he passes by on his way through campus.
Kline is also proud of is his family. He and his wife Lisa will celebrate their 20th anniversary this summer. The two met during a Johnny Holm show at the Bel Rae Ballroom in New Brighton where they now live. The couple has three children, including 16-year-old Tony, 13-year-old Emily and 9-year-old Julia, whom they spend a great deal of time shuttling to activities like marching band, dance class and sports. The family goes camping each summer in state parks and takes their boat out on local lakes.
Kline appreciates the beauty of the U of M, but thinks it would be even nicer if the community was more conscientious about keeping campus clean.
“When you think of gardener and you think of planting,” said Kline. “But we do a lot of trash picking. And when people want to go from point A to point B, they’ll walk right through a garden because it’s shorter.”
As the snow melts and spring blooms on campus, take note of the landscaping as you pass by locations like McGuire Translational Research Facility and Nicholson Hall on the East Bank; or Peters Hall Patio and Purina Garden in St. Paul. You’ll see that the green thumb didn’t skip a generation in the Kline family.