January and February are the months for us Bostonians to find indoor gardens to luxuriate in and to bring to mind that spring will come again. Wellesley College Greenhouses in Wellesley, Massachusetts is my go to place to breath in the smell of wet soil and to pretend I am in Florida surrounded by the blossoms of tropical plants.
The Wellesley College Botanic Gardens Visitor Center is adjacent to the Science Center and the Greenhouses are open 8 am to 4 pm every day of the week except in the summer when the greenhouses are closed on weekends. I most enjoy the progression through the different greenhouses from the dry heat in the desert house to the very moist heat in the tropical house. There are even some benchs to rest awhile and enjoy siting amongst the plants.
In my dream home I would have the sandy propagation beds they have with bottom heat and misting heads going. But then what would I do with all the new plants? Better to come visit this unique Boston area asset where I can visit anytime for free and enjoy the horticultural sights of the tropics in a cold New England winter. Groups can also arrange for docent lead tours by calling the Botanic Gardens office. I am doing a bit of publicity for a place I have had the luck to be associated with for many years as student and volunteer. After a visit I always get so energized about plants that I come home and repot one of my begonias or one of my other too numerous houseplants.
The monks garden path
One of the great pleasures of living in the Boston area are the wonderful museums. Interesting garden spaces often are part of the package when museum visiting. The new Monks garden at the Gardner Museum is a tiny bit of paradise for me. It is another superb example of the design work of Michael Van Valkenburg,whose firm has offices in Cambridge and NYC. What I liked most about the garden is the sure hand when choosing the plant material. Everygreen leaves of hellebores and European ginger look good in the winter time and the trio of tree types with interesting bark will look stunning all season long. Stewardia planted in groups of three will also provide early summer flowers, paperback maples planted at the turning points of the paths are shining beacons of bronze beauty and the elegance of the white bark of the birches make this a lovely forest to walk thru.
Even as the 2 feet of snow are still on the ground here in New England it is possible to be among beautiful blooming plants. Lyman Estate Greenhouses in Waltham, Massachusetts is one of my favorite places to go visit on a frosty winter afternoon. The ancient camellias are at peak flowering in January and February and in these old greenhouses one can imagine you are a wealthy 19th century estate owner proudly looking over your collection of camellia plants brought over from China. These flowers look like roses with many different flower forms but you won’t find any scent when you put your nose up to one. Be sure and dust the yellow pollen off your face!