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The Smith College Botanic Garden | A Glimpse of Green

The Smith College Botanic Garden | A Glimpse of Green
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In the dead of winter, the Smith College Botanic Garden offers sanctuary to those who seek to exchange the harsh weather for a warmer, more colorful climate.

Like desert wanderers thirsting for water, we’re parched for a glimpse of green.

Be here. Now.
Be here. Now.

Color, too.

A burst of sun! A burst of sun!

Somewhere in the outside world people are lolling around on beaches sheltered by palm trees, but here we’re still sharpening shovels and sifting salt, and those getaway ads in the travel section of the NY Times might as well be science fiction.

There are specks of hope on the horizon, though.

A hint of things to come. A hint of things to come.

The Boston Flower Show—that moist explosion of smell, color, and warmth that heaves out of the Seaport World Trade Center—is just a few weeks away (March 12-16).

Last year's show…ah. Last year’s show…ah.

And bare ground has been spotted by the semi-delusional.

Meanwhile, it’s possible to pre-emptively create your own Mini-Flower-Show experience.

It's just like Marbella... Just like Marbella…

It’s just a doorknob away.

Walk this way... Walk this way.

At the warm heart of the Smith College campus, in Northampton, MA, the Lyman Plant House rises like a Victorian wedding cake from the crusty ice and snow.

Rising from the snow... Rising like the phoenix.

This lacy confection soared into existence in 1895, on the grounds of the then-20-year-old college property. Here’s what’s hidden inside the Smith College Botanic Garden:

Glorious colors Glorious colors.

Stepping through the doorway, moist air slaps at us, in the best possible way, like those warm towelettes that Air France used to hand out, back in the day.

This way to the jungle. This way to the jungle.

There’s lots of Georgia O’Keefe inspiration, too.

Inspiration. Inspiration.

A citrus grove,

Lemon tree very pretty... Lemon tree very pretty…

paths that don’t need clearing,

Future garden inspiration. Future garden inspiration.

and a chance to sharpen your plant ID skills.

Looks like...
Photo/Art by Annie Graves
Botany 101.

Months of being draped over a wood stove have drained some of us of all excess moisture. As my hair boinks back to life, increasing in volume with each tropical detour, I take the next dramatic step. Removal of the down coat.

Look, cacao beans!

It all starts here. Chocolate starts here.

A Fern Palm from Taiwan flails wispy frond arms that rise from an Aliens body.

A Little Shop of Horrors moment. It’s alive!!

There’s even a tiny rice paddy,

In the rice fields. In the fields.

and a soaring space where you can bring a book, park yourself on a bench, and read.

The bigger picture. Year-round reading.

We’ve come in search of green this day, and we find it, springing up, brand new.

A plant hatchery. Hyacinths-to-be.

As moisture trickles down windows and a slick of green fur coats the terra cotta pots, the flowers reach towards the light.

In the tropics. Smells green.

Ropy vines, swirly ferns. We are a pith helmet and a machete away from swinging on vines, but that’s a different story for another day. Right now we’re just soaking up a hint of things to come.

Inside out. Inside, outside.

For the moment, it’s so very easy to be green.

something Waiting peacefully.

Have you ever visited the Smith College Botanic Garden?

Smith College Botanic Garden. 16 College Lane, Northampton, MA. 413-585-2740;

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Annie Graves


Annie Graves


Annie Graves is a regular contributor to Yankee. A New Hampshire native, she has been a writer and editor for over 25 years, while composing music and writing young adult novels. Find out more about Annie at
Updated Friday, March 4th, 2016

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3 Responses to The Smith College Botanic Garden | A Glimpse of Green

  1. Yankee fan February 28, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    I could almost inhale the warm, moist, enlivening mist from my cold, dry winter cubicle!! This is an awesome reminder of what’s to come (soon, please!)…it’s like we’re just about there, isn’t it?

    Thank you for bringing our beloved spring that much closer!! :-}

  2. Pam March 1, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    I’ve been here. It’s warm and beautiful. A great winter “get away” . Worth the trip.

  3. Leafy March 6, 2014 at 7:17 am #

    Indoor gardening – I love it on those cold winter days when you can see real plants with flowers and leaves.

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