By Emily Harrison Weir
Margaret Randall-Neppl ’18 arrived at the Talcott Greenhouse dressed ready for the day—in a short-sleeved dress and winter boots. Outside, the snowpack was melting, but inside, spring was in full bloom.
"I'd been seeing the flowers through the windows and they were bright and colorful," said Randall-Neppl, who is from Moorhead, Minnesota. "And on a day like today, I wanted it to be spring, so I came to where I could find spring."
This year's flower show theme is "tropical oasis," and that's just how it felt to be surrounded by palm fronds, mini torches, and thousands of fragrant blossoms in a rainbow of colors.
In one direction was pot after pot of daffodils, from palest cream to near-neon yellow. Offsetting them were grape hyacinths, sprays of speckled orchids, and blood-red tulips just opening. And oh, the smell . . .
The annual flower show is open to visitors 9 am–4 pm daily through March 22. It has been a Mount Holyoke College rite of spring for more than half a century, and students today turn out for it just as eagerly as do community members.
It's become a must-do for juniors Ashley Avila ’16 of Washington, D.C., and Sydney Casey of Dublin, Ohio.
"We've been every year; it's a great Mount Holyoke College tradition," said Avila. Casey agreed, calling the show "a wonderful way to transition from the dead of winter into spring."
Rachel Murgo, a first-year student from Burlington, Massachusetts, said she had heard others talking excitedly about it, "so I figured the show was something I shouldn't miss." She added that she longed "to be surrounded by some natural beauty after all the snow.
A year-round respite and resource.
The flower show attracts many hundreds of visitors annually, but the Talcott Greenhouse is an integral part of many students' Mount Holyoke education throughout the year. The botanic garden, greenhouse, and campus arboretum are a living laboratory supporting botanical research by students and faculty.
The oldest sections of the greenhouse were built in the late 1890s, and an expanded greenhouse was renovated in the 1990s. For years, the staff has given each new student a small plant to make her dorm room more homey. At least one alumna's first-year plant is still alive decades later.
But you don't need to know a daffodil from a date palm to enjoy the greenhouse's collection of plants from around the world. The colors, shapes, and forms intrigue, and the greenery offers visitors a change of pace.
As Murgo put it, "It's just nice to come here to relax and catch your breath every once in a while."