March 14, 2012

Nineteenth Century Conservatory Rarities

In the equatorial house, cycads and palm grow in the high heat and humidity. It was so hot and humid in the Smith College conservatory that my camera steamed up - I sort of liked the effect.
Here are a few more photos from our trip to the Smith College Conservatory this past weekend. I thought that I might share a few photos of some plants that caught my eye beyond the bulb displays. A little bit of this and that, and a few things to add to my wish list for my greenhouse collection.

One could almost miss this tall orchid amongst all the Dutch bulb, but it was its scent that first reached me - a little like a wine glass that had Merlot in it the night before, and then it dried out - I don't know how else to describe it. It was a little like evaporated red wine, and the way an old flannel shirt smells when you are stoking oak wood into a fireplace, with smoke on a cold winters night. Know what I mean? Orchid scents are strange yet awesome.

Mixed tropical specimen plants include Begonia species, bromeliads, citrus and lots of orchids.

Banana's, Heliconia and Philodendrons in the tropical palm house. Yes, it was snowing outside, but near 90 degrees inside under the glass.

Me likey Lycopodium - as if I need another genus to start collecting! But this is the second time that I have been smitten by this prehistoric genus. Maybe the time has come to build a Victorian Fernery.

This was the first time that I've seen this Peperomia species. - Peperomia fraseri, from Ecuador and Columbia.

A small hanging Vandaceous orchid reminds me of when I lived in Hawaii - we used to grow baskets of these on our clothes line.

Another fantastic orchid specimen, this relative of the dendrobium is Dendrochillum cobbianum , this specimen has fully encased its basket.

This Ruttya fruticosa was once commonly grown in conservatories in New England, my 1805 gardening book talks about specimens growing in glasshouses in the Boston area.


  1. I'm so glad you're posting about the Smith College greenhouses....I forgot all about the bulb show until you posted about it. I'm heading over tomorrow!
    At Rocky Dale Gardens we have been growing Ruttya fruticosa plants for sale and last year they bloomed pretty much all summer! Way cool!!

  2. So many plants from which to choose....

  3. Sorry just a note, dendrochilum are not close relatives of dendrobium but rather they fall in with the Coelogyne.

  4. Don't be sorry! Not surprising that I got that wrong. For some reason, I thought in my little head that Denrochilum was close ( I have not grown them for 9 years, so my Dendrobium monograph just merged in my head!). Always up for a correction! Thanks for sharing it.


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