Spring Bulb Show Celebrates Another Year in Bloom
Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 12:03
A riot of unseasonal color inside Lyman Plant House and cars lining the curb along College Lane heralded the return of a beloved Smith tradition: the Spring Bulb show, which opened on March 2.
Presented by the Botanic Garden of Smith College, the Spring Bulb Show showcases thousands of flowers for both students and the public to enjoy. The event has a history of more than 100 years on campus.
This year, the show features over 5000 bulbs, which normally would bloom at different times, manipulated into simultaneously blooming. Many of these bulbs are not native to New England, with some from as far away as South Africa.
This display includes lilies, tulips, irises, narcissi, hyacinths and crocuses.
"It's a lovely show," said Katherine Horning '13. "I went last year and this year is different. There are more decorations, more little touches."
Conservatory Manager Rob Nicholson and several students have been working on the show since last fall. In October, horticulture students pot the bulbs and put them in cold storage. The bulbs were then transferred to the greenhouses in January. Through temperature control and careful timing, the bulbs are ready to be shown in March.
Each year, the show features a new theme. Nicholson explained this year's theme is Dutch. Decorations that reflect the Dutch theme include the use of Dutch-style wallpaper, a working windmill constructed by Hanna Koby '13 and a display of garden statues playing a game of chess. According to Nicholson, the windmill is the show's first use of a mobile.
"I loved the cohesiveness of the decorations," said Haley Crockett '15. "I wasn't expecting to see all of this, I was just expecting to see all the flowers. They really went above and beyond."
This year's mild winter, however, has caused problems for the show's organizers, who had to prevent the bulbs from blooming too quickly.
"Things got ahead of schedule with the weather. It really made planning more difficult than it has been the last years," said Botanic Garden Director Michael Marcotrigiano. "It was too hot, and [the bulbs] were going to bloom too quickly. We had to adjust the temperature a lot."
However, the coordinators of the show remained confident that their efforts succeeded. "The show's as good as ever," said Marcotrigiano.
The show kicked off with an opening lecture by Brian McGowan, the Assistant Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill, a public garden in the Bronx. McGowan's lecture, "Living with a Mature Garden," described the unique challenges of cultivating plants and gardens as they grow older. Following the lecture and reception, guests were able to see a preview of the show.
On March 24 and 25, there will be an after-show bulb sale open to the public. Many of the bulbs featured in the show can be purchased and brought home, so that students can keep a little bit of spring in their rooms.
The Spring Bulb Show ends on March 18. The show is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has evening hours on March 9 and 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free, but a donation of $2 is appreciated.