The Mount Holyoke Annual Spring Flower Show opened on Sat., March 1. The Talcott Greenhouse had a steady stream of visitors on the show’s first day and is expecting to hit peak attendance next week, when more of the flowers have bloomed. Having flowers that are either open or closed has its perks and setbacks. On one hand, the closed flowers will bloom later, which is fantastic, as the greenhouse needs them to last for a solid two weeks. On the other, early visitors do not get to see the whole greenhouse abloom.
Gail Fuller, one of Talcott’s technicians, often has to refer to her catalogue while arranging the flowers, to see what color they will turn out to be. Fuller explains that it is a constant process, as “[she] has to develop different plant combinations, based on the flowers that are open at the time.” If some flowers pass too quickly, there are reserves in the back room. It is vital that the majority of the flowers last for the entirety of the flower show. In order to ensure this, the greenhouse staff regulate the temperature, open the windows and paint the greenhouse with a liquid that will reflect UV rays. Since the flower show has been going on for 50 years, Fuller is certain that the affair will continue without any hitches. She’s very pleased with the results so far. She explained, “We have enough color to start, and will have enough color as we go on, to last the whole two weeks.”
The center section of the Show House is adorned with bird houses, nests and bird figurines. The front and back are balanced with quaint picket fences and visitors peer around to find all of the birds that are scattered throughout. The sides of the Show Room are masses of color, with whites, reds, blues, violets, oranges and pinks. There are over one hundred varieties of flowers that people can observe.
The show attracts a wide range of people, many of whom come annually. Guests can explore the entire greenhouse, not just the Show Room. Right beside the entrance, there is the warm propagation room. Here the staff grow seedling and baby plants, which are in many different developmental stages. They also keep flowers there that they want to use for the show. The temperature speeds them along. Within the propagation room, there is a cooler area that is kept separated. Here they keep orchids, pansies and other plants that enjoy a colder climate.
Directly ahead of the entrance is the cycad room. Tropical and semi-tropical plants are kept in this warm room. There is a pool in the center, where two resident frogs live among the lily pads. Plants are suspended above the pool, as a means of filling up the space, as well as allowing them access to more light. Further along this sector, there is “the jungle,” a greenhouse that is over a hundred years old.
The Talcott building was built in 1869, after the original greenhouse burnt down in a fire. Among a variety of regular house plants that thrive in humid conditions, “the jungle” hosts tropical plants and even banana trees. It gets so warm that the staff crank the windows open, even during the winter, so that the temperature is not too overwhelming. Sometimes birds fly in through the open windows and build nests. Scattered around the greenhouse are different plants, such as ferns and begonias, strategically placed so that visitors can see the variety that exists in each species.
The flower show is occurring at the Talcott Greenhouse from March 1-16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Stepping into Talcott can be the perfect remedy for those desperate for spring and a break from midterms.