Fall Chrysanthemum Show at Smith Offers Community-Based Learning

Budding Botanists Will Love This Show at Smith College Botanic Garden

It might be chilly outside, but Smith College’s greenhouses in Northampton are bursting with color this time of year! Annually, with the month of November, comes The Botanic Garden of Smith College’s Fall Chrysanthemum Show, an exhibition filled with colorful mums of all shapes and sizes (some as large as eight inches across!). Budding botanists will love exploring the greenhouse and inspecting blossoms to learn about chrysanthemums.

Of particular interest at the show is the showcase of hybrid mums created by students in Smith College’s horticulture class. Every year, the mum show includes blooms engineered by students specifically for characteristics like petal shape, color, and/or size. Hybrid blooms are created by hand-pollinating blossoms, a process that requires careful attention to be paid to the plants’ reproductive process. Visitors to the show can view the students’ hybrid flowers and vote for their favorite of the original blooms. The competition has been going on for nearly a century, and past winners’ blooms can be viewed in an online gallery. Take a look at the archived blossoms and try to guess what the flowers whose genetic material was hybridized might have looked like! Read the rest of this entry »

Flowers ❥ Happy Bouquets in the Pioneer Valley

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 16, Flowers

Very often at Tuesday Market I come with camera and snap photos of flowers. In fact, often that’s the only thing I photograph at the market. (Photo credit: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser)

It hit me yesterday at the Tuesday Market how much the flowers around here mean to me. I’m not a big bouquet person (although, as you read on, ask yourself why didn’t she buy some of these flowers she fell in love with?). I enjoy when we have flowers on the table, but then, they wilt and droop and dry up and eventually we toss ‘em and I think I didn’t care about them correctly and I certainly didn’t dispose of them quickly enough.

I think maybe because I walk so many places, my main enjoyment of flowers comes in motion. I loop around the Smith campus often, near the greenhouse and that’s like a living bouquet or very still performance art along a fence (hat tip to Jeff, the gardener there). Many neighbors have lovely gardens. It’s fun to see the first snowdrops and to make up haiku about irises and those floozies the peonies (I love when flowers bring words to mind like that, floozies.). Over the years, I’ve gotten more attuned to the way colors move in waves, the whites, yellows and purples bleed into the pinks and magentas to the orange and red tiger lilies and on, the black eyed Susans and sunflowers with their hearty rays and dark centers. Textures shift. The flowers’ march across spring and summer and fall evoke memories of visits to San Francisco and Berkeley and Oakland with their microclimates. Change is dramatic and subtle all at once. It’s so distinguishable.

As a person who prefers the temperate seasons—and truthfully, a more temperate climate—I am surprised again and again that I actually notice these flowers with such attentiveness and that I adore them so much. Grateful to gardeners and wildflowers, grateful to a part of the world that holds so much fullness each year—the rounds from first flowers to last, I guess I wouldn’t trade this. Except, perhaps in January or February, when I’d give almost anything for a balmy breeze.


Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

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