There's something about that short period between winter and spring that seems to drag on forever. Whether we get a little hint of spring for a day or two before the cold comes back — or we get stuck with a big, end-of-the-season storm — it leaves us craving that special day when the air smells fresh and the crocuses start to pop up out of the ground.
If you are at that moment where you just need a little spring in your life — before Mother Nature is ready to give it to you — take a trip to The Botanic Garden at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.
As one of the most beloved places in Northampton, even in the dead of winter, you can find yourself feeling warm and cozy when visiting.
"I would say in the winter, the orchids are really thriving, but more importantly, in March, is when we have the bulb show," says Julie Thomson, communications coordinator at The Botanic Garden of Smith College.
"About 40,000 people come to the show each year. It is a splash of color," she says.
The Bulb Show runs from March 4 through the 18 and takes place in the Lyman Plant House and Conservatory.They are also commissioning student artwork to incorporate art into the flower show this year.
The Botanic Garden also has a gallery space called the Church Gallery, which currently features students' artwork inspired by the plants in Lyman Conservatory.
"Palm House inside the Lyman Conservatory is always everyone's favorite place to visit because it is the most humid and the warmest," notes Thomson. "That's where we have all the tropical plants. We also have the Succulent House that just has so much sunlight that comes in. It almost feels like you are transported to another place and no longer in New England."
If you are looking for some outdoor gardens to check out, several outdoor named gardens are throughout the campus.
"The whole campus is a botanic garden and an arboretum. We have 10 champion state trees. It's just a lovely space to walk around in," explains Thomson. "Though the outdoor gardens don't have much in bloom, we plant our gardens also thinking about winter interests, so there are still lovely spaces to walk through. March may even have early bulbs popping up, too."
The garden of Smith College was founded in 1895. It was designed by the Olmstead Firm, which is the same firm that designed Central Park. It was designed to have huge expansive lawns and big stately trees. The Lyman Conservatory was built in 1985 by Lord and Burnham and is one of the few remaining plant conservatories in the United States built in the 19th century.
The Conservatory houses over 3,000 species of plants used for teaching, display, research and conservation.
The first Smith College president wanted to have a botanic garden as part of the campus because he believed strongly in sciences for women's education, and botany was the focus of it. One of the practices that students would do is to hybridize mums. Students continue to do this every year. The mums are then shown in the Fall Chrysanthemum Show, and the student with the best mum is then inducted into the Mum Hall of Fame.
The Botanic Garden of Smith College
16 College Lane
HOURS: Monday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission free to the public. Donations are suggested.
For more information, visit The Botanic Garden of Smith College
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