Last week I went to the Mt Holyoke College greenhouse show of spring bulbs. Like the show at Elizabeth Park in Hartford, it is an annual extravaganza of color and a real shot-in-the-arm for those of us that are more than ready for the end of winter. Just seeing all that color was intoxicating.

 The real surprise was the age and scope of the greenhouse at Mt Holyoke. It might be more accurately described as a glass house or conservatory … like a mini Kew Garden. The older building … the beautiful structure with the domed roof that you can see in the background of the photo above … offers a glimpse into the age of Victorian Exploration, when intrepid botanists ventured into the jungle to bring back the bits and pieces of an exotic world.  It is impressive to contemplate the generations of students, faculty, and volunteers that have invested their time and expertise in the preservation of such venerable greenery. We encountered a student sweeping up all the dead leaves that had fallen, and carefully checking the state of each plant as he worked his way around the display. You could feel the attachment he had to the plants that he cared for.

There is something fantastical and other-worldly about grand conservatories that house old established exotic plants. The size and age of the plants disguise the fact that in some cases they are the same plant … here grown to full size under ideal conditions … that you might keep as a valiant struggling house plant that has somehow survived your erratic care and feeding. The sheer size of a single leaf can be amazing. The juxtaposition of cascading orchids draped over the trunks of ginormous palms, with ethereal ferns gathered together in their shadow, is awesome. Just imagine the root system of some of those monster antiques. The faintly sweet aroma of far-away places is like an infusion of a narcotic. And, I bet all that fresh humid air is good for the complexion, too. 

So, it is all the more discouraging that today, the 2nd day of spring, we await yet another monster nor’easter. Snow is predicted for the rest of today into tomorrow. Bummer!

Old Man Winter appears to be seriously pissed off about something. Like a bad case of road rage. I wonder what set him off this time?




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