Smith Botanical Gardens, Northampton

Any time I enter a garden conservatory I feel as though I’ve been transported to another land. No matter what the weather is outside, under the glass frames the temperature is catered to the warmth the plants require – and I happen to crave. A visit to The Botanic Garden of Smith College [16 College Ln, Northampton, MA 01063] is always a treat, but a sweet escape on a cold day. Right off of the main road running through campus, the entrance isn’t hard to find.

smith_college_botanic_garden_12Admission is free, but donations are always appreciated. Once inside breathe in deep. Admire all of beautiful and sometimes strange sights.

smith_college_botanic_garden_1smith_college_botanic_garden_The first room I entered had a great assortment of orchids. As I marveled at the different colors and shapes of the flowers I wish my own barren stem of a orchid plant would bloom at home…it is budding!

smith_college_botanic_garden_2Walking through the labyrinth like passage ways I went room to room, finding the sweetest little details.

smith_college_botanical_gardenNever forgetting to smell or touch when appropriate. When we got to the desert room we had it completely to ourselves. The different cacti and succulents were gorgeous, and I longed for warmer days in Arizona where these plants were commonplace.

smith_college_botanic_garden_8I beckoned Jeff to touch the spines of the fishhook barrel cactus I had seen in Saguaro National Park, just to show him how strong they were. In the silence of the empty conservatory room he made the funniest song with the noise the spines made, hollow, ping-y, harmony. Just a very lucky coincidence, we happened to visit during the seasonal chrysanthemum, or more colloquially known, the mum show! It was an awesome surprise, as these are no ordinary doorstep mums. The flowers here are epic hybrids. Some have huge bulbous blooms,

smith_college_botanic_garden_5Others are typically tiny, yet have interesting characteristics such as unique color combinations or petal size.

smith_college_botanic_garden_6 smith_college_botanic_garden_7They all look and smell amazing, it is so incredible to see how different mums can be. We thoroughly explored all rooms, bundled up, and took to the outdoors. Late fall not too much was in bloom, but some leaves were still on the trees, and some rainbow like vines were sprawling across the garden.

smith_college_botanic_garden_13We walked a bit on the adjacent outdoor winding paths. I looked across the road and noticed a big pond with some ducks in it. We decided to take a walk around it because as always, I wasn’t ready to hit the road just yet.

smith_college_botanic_gardenWe discovered that there isn’t a path leading around the lake, just passing by and heading into the woods! The flat dirt path follows a wandering creek for quite some time, popular with Smith students and local dog walkers.

smith_college_botanic_garden_14Not too far into the woods we were dazzled by Tibetan prayer flags and stopped to read some messages.

smith_college_botanic_garden_15We didn’t know how long the trail continued and it was starting to get dark, so we headed back the way we came. The nature walk was a great addition to the visit at the Botanical Garden. Any day is great to visit the garden, but their next big event is this spring – the bulb show, so mark your calendars and get ready to head to Northampton!

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