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Lyman Plant House for Summer in January

Lyman Plant House at Smith College

The Lyman Plant House at Smith College looked as frosty as anyplace during the recent Polar Vortex. Outside.

Lyman Plant House interior pond and plants

Inside the Lyman Plant House there is humid warmth and lush growth.

Lyman Plant House Palm Room

Once past the brilliant greenery I passed into the Palm House where I might have been in the jungle. The brilliant January sun shone through the dense palm foliage, but all below was in shadow.

Lyman Plant House Palm Room

I sat on a bench and rested, and debated whether I should follow the narrow path deeper into the dark, unknown jungle.  Wait, I know that is just a fancy. Almost real, though, on this January day.

Lyman Plant House Orchids

Beautiful orchids are blooming, back in the sun.

Crazy Leaf Begonia

Begonia lovers will love the begonia collection. Gorgeous, interesting  foliage.

Lyman Plant House Succulent Room

But if dense jungle, and steamy blooming plants aren’t enough to warm you, continue on to the Succulent Rooms and enjoy the dry heat, arid landscape – and a  different fancy.

The Lyman Plant House is open every day from 8:30 to 4 pm. The famous Bulb Show opens on the first weekend in March which this year is March 1.  Bulb Show doors open at 10 am. Closing is 4 pm. There is a lot to learn here, and a great deal to enjoy in every season of the year.


Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale – Saturday May 18

Plants ready for the sale

One thousdand perennials are ready for the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale on Saturday, May 18. When the starting bell rings at 9 am (no sales before that hour) the buying begins. From this photo you might be able to pick out lady’s mantle, candelabra primroses, hostas, Solomon’s seal, ferns, and bleeding hearts, pink and white. I can tell you that there are also peonies, fairy bells (new to me) campanulas, yarrow, achillea, shasta daisies, and some shrubs including  butterfly bush, rose of sharon and forsythia. All at bargain prices.

Candelabra primroses

There are other primroses, too. pink and wine colors.  Most of the plants, including these primroses come off the Bridge. There will also be vendors selling tools, notecards, books – and wooden spoons. Unusual native flowers from Hillside Nursery will also be on sale – as usual. Annuals and geraniums will  also be available. Come early!

Pots for Sale

This year we also have an array of handsome, gently used, pots. This is not the whole collection. Beautiful plants deserve a beautiful pot.

Plant Sale begins promptly at 9 am and will conclude at noon. Hope to see you there.


My Succulent Container Garden on Wordless Wednesday

Succulents planted December 19, 2011

I just realized that I planted my succulent container on December 19 last year. This was a new project for me.

Succulents on February 2, 2012

I posted an update in February when the succulents looked like this.

Succulents on December 19. 2012

Today the succulents look like this. I love being able to put together this series. With so few words.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Surprises on Wordless Wednesday

Toad in watering can

Toad finally leaving watering can

Succulent flowers - big and small

The first tigrida blossom

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

I Finished My Handmade Garden Projects – Giveaway

Handmade Garden Projects by Lorene Edwards Forkner

The trouble with the Handmade Garden Projects book by Lorene Edwards Forkner is difficulty in choosing where to begin. Steel trellises or other things made with metal scraps? Clever hose guides? Or creative containers?  Then the Bridge of Flowers committee thought it might be a good idea to make hypertufa containers to plant and sell at our Annual Plant Sale on May 19. The decision was made. If you decide you want to have your own copy of this energizing book, Timber Press is offering a Giveaway. Leave a comment on this blog by a week from today at midnight, on May 24 and I will chose a winner at random on May 25.

Five of us ladies got together for our hypertufa party. We gathered assorted materials to use as molds to each make a hypertufa container (otherwise known as a Rustic Lightweight Trough) for ourselves and one for the Bridge Plant Sale.

I was surprised to find out that you don’t whip one of these troughs up one afternoon and plant them the next. You have to think ahead. After you have made your trough (of whatever shape) in your mold, it has to be put in a black plastic trash bag to cure for 24-48 hours. Because we had our ‘party’ when the weather was still quite cold (but not below freezing) we all chose to let our troughs cure in their bags for nearly a week. We were all very careful using our goggles, dust masks and rubber gloves, and I was so busy that I never got any photos that day. Lorene gives full directions beginning with an ingredients list – and I want to say that I have some leftover materials to make more troughs. There is also an equipment list. All those dusk masks, etc., and then step by step directions.

As suggested, I rinsed mine off several times with a hose to wash out some of the alkalinity provided by the cement and let some of our rains practice their scrubbing on them. Lorene recommends not planting the troughs for at least three weeks from construction day, and I just barely held myself in check long enough.

Our group intended the troughs for succulents, but Lorene has other suggestions. I also noticed directions for making a succulent container out of galvanized gutter which may be my next project, unless I decide I need the neat hose guides more urgently.

Lorene Edwards Forkner is clearly the type of person who goes shopping in her basement, attic and garage before she runs out to buy some expensive garden art or equipment. But, I’ve been thinking that all the upcoming tag and yard sales might also be good places to gather material for some of these projects.

Some of the troughs we made

A number of other bloggers are posting about their take on this great book. Check them out.

Don’t forget to leave a comment here and you might win your very own copy of Handmade Garden Projects.

Hypertufa Trough – You Could Make Your Own

Troughs at Smith College

Hypertufa is a concrete and peat moss mixture used to make garden troughs and ornaments.  Hypertufa troughs are often used for succulent or alpine plant collections and can be a charming and useful element in the garden. You can make your own. I am not sure how Smith College made their troughs, but hypertufa is a great DYI project.

Not being very adventurous in the craft area I am happy that the Bridge of Flowers committee has organized a hypertufa workshop scheduled for Saturday, April 14 from 1-4 pm at the Trolley Museum in Shelburne Falls.  Here is the description of the workshop:

The Bridge of Flowers is offering a hypertufa workshop at the Trolley Museum in Shelburne Falls  on Saturday, April 14, from 1-4 pm  led by Carol Lively. Participants will make two small hypertufa planting containers, one for themselves, and one for the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale. The cost of $20 covers the cost of materials which will all be provided. There is no other cost. Participants should bring a cardboard box or other item to use as a mold for their container.

Hypertufa is a mixture of Portland concrete, peat moss, vermiculite and sand. Carol Lively will help participants shape a container using a box, or other container desired as a mold. The container will then need to cure and dry for four weeks or so before being used.  Participants should wear old clothes, and bring heavy duty rubber gloves, the mold of your choice, a board to hold the container while it dries and a black plastic garbage bag.. To information or to sign up for the  workshop call Pat Leuchtman 413-337-4316. Your garden and the Bridge of Flowers will both benefit.

Let me know if you have any questions. This is a great opportunity for you and your own garden – and to help support the Bridge of Flowers.

Another Smith College trough