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?