Say Ahhhh!

an orchid open wide saying “ahhh”I don’t get out much. It’s actually a little embarrassing. I go to work; I go home and pet the cat. It’s true that I get to see a beautiful garden every day. But it’s probably good for my soul and imagination to get out and see other places now and again too. And when I do get out, like I did this weekend, I think “why don’t I do this more often???” The bus to Smith College in Northampton, MA left Blithewold at 9:30 Saturday morning and by noon we were transported far further than the hundred or so miles up the Mass pike.

The Lyman Conservatory greenhouses were a feast – though we weren’t allowed to touch and certainly weren’t allowed to taste! A cocoa pod ripening on the tree (Theobroma cacao)(I did have trouble keeping my hands off the plants and had to slap my own wrist several times.) Each house had a completely different “feel” – from a global temperate zone with plants segregated by continent to the palm tropics to a ferny understory to the desert – all of which made me wish I hadn’t worn my usual 42 winter layers. I might never make it around the world in one go but this felt like a start. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves – if I managed to get a plant’s name, I’ve included it in the caption. My only regret on the trip (aside from wardrobe disfunction) was that I didn’t linger longer to write down names – nearly everything was beautifully labeled.Temperate zone - Tetrapanax papyrifera (rice paper plant) in the foregroundBulbs in the temperate zonePalm housean assemblage in the Succulent HouseCalathea musaica - If I was a thief, I’d have this plant orchid I covetorchids that made me think of drag queens and Disney characters - it’s the mustaches, I thinkanother Disney character orchid

The Quad probablyA beautiful ginormous witch hazel with marcescent leavesOutside, the campus was a treasure too and almost had me wistfully wishing I could be a dewy eyed undergrad again just to stride the curving campus paths like they were made for me. I got over the wistfullness when I remembered exams and allnighters. Our tour guide said that they frequently spot stressed out students in the “aroma room” – a house full of scented herbs. I think I should have taken better advantage of hort. therapy opportunities at my school – I’d have been happier for it, I’m sure. Anyone out there go to Smith or have happy memories of a beautiful college campus? Anyone seek solace in their campus greenhouse?

7 thoughts on “Say Ahhhh!

  1. There’s some great eye candy there! I supposed my alma mater’s campus has a greenhouse. I’ll have to check!

    If they do, and you go back for a visit – I hope you post pictures! -kris

  2. It’s amazing how many places I visit that don’t have proper and thorough labels on the plants–or even an information center to answer questions. I believe that public gardens have a duty to help educate–and that means labeling properly and thoroughly!!!

    For my own garden, I also put in copper labels. Not because I need them, but because it helps my husband and son. My 16-year-old knows quite a lot of plants as a result!

    Robin at Bumblebee

    Robin, the amazing thing about Smith is that the whole campus is labeled! Gail used to go there to study for her I.D. classes at UMass. It’s great that your son knows plants – is he by any chance a gardener (or gardener in training) too? -kris

  3. What a great way to go out and see some new surroundings. I too have the habit of not getting out much. For me I just don’t have the extra money to drive and pay fees to go and do things. What a great place you visited. I love to go the the conservatory at the botanical gardens here. They too have the ferns the palms the desert and other climates. The botanical garden here doesn’t label very well because who ever worked there before didn’t keep notes of what was planted and received. So now there are many things not label that have been there for many years. I wish my campus looked like that and had an aroma room. We have a horticulture program but our campus just doesn’t look as nice. We have a greenhouse and are building a new one. I do hope the new one is better then the one now.

    It’s exciting that your school is building a new greenhouse – some schools (like Brown) are sadly, tragically letting them go. And it’s great that you get out to your local botanical garden even though the lack of labels is frustrating! -kris

  4. I can’t blame you for not writting down every plant name. Being there would be intoxicating. With such a buzz on who wouldn’t forget.

    It is really hard to take it all in and write it all down! -kris

  5. When I was a student at the NS Agricultural College, way back just after fire was invented, I practically LIVED in the greenhouses. I had a key to the bio dept lab and got to go in the greenhouse and study…and I worked at the plant science dept greenhouses, even when not working in there for classes. So it was a rude awakening when after graduation I went to work at a greenhouse that cultured tomatoes and cut flowers–and HATED it! I’m more of the conservatory type greenhouse lover, so I’d have had a blast on this trip with you.

    Jodi, You must have been the sanest most relaxed student at school. You’ll definitely have to put Smith on the list of places to see when you come down to this neck of the woods. -kris

  6. Ok, I’m swooning..Smith greenhouses have ALWAYS been on my list..I’m so sorry I missed it…I am working at the conservatory at school(URI) and more folks have walked thru this month than ever before…we have a bench next to the little goldfish pond under the jasmine,,yup, hort therapy…my goal is to have even more aroma…(I want it to smell like logee’s greenhouses in winter…anyone have a 100 yr old citrus hanging around?…

    Hi Norma!! I’m sorry you didn’t make it to Smith – but you know it’s only a couple of hours away and I bet Jerica would love to see it too! Road trip! I didn’t realize you were working in the conservatory. How dreamy. Come visit here again sometime soon too and come through the greenhouse this time. -kris

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