Friday, March 28, 2008



While traveling in the Boston area, gardeners should visit the Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses at Wellesley College. Gardeners will love this educational experience. The usual mission of botanical gardens and arboretums is exhibiting plants and educating the public about them. These gardens are good places to spend quality garden time. Some gardeners take a break during their least favorite times of year and find one to meander through. Others use the opportunity, while vacationing, to seek out new plant environments. Do not miss the Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses while in the Boston area. The greenhouses are located on the grounds of Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts and offer a bit of history along with a chance to increase plant knowledge. History of Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses The brick, wood-frame and glass greenhouses, now part of the Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouses, were built in 1922-1923. The greenhouse’s namesake and designer, Margaret C. Ferguson, was a member of Wellesley College faculty during the early 1900s. There are a total of 15 houses. Each greenhouse developed with a specific environment such as the desert, tropical forest, a Hydrophyte House and a Collections Support House with connecting areas for student research. The Annex, which was built in 1906, is the oldest of the houses and is a cool place for blooming plants. The heated and cold pits are used for hardening off or over-wintering treatments. When strolling through the houses you will come upon a symbolic reminder of the greenhouse’s greatest aspiration, the search for plant knowledge. The door of the Research House is a gentle reminder, with a sign posted, asking that you do not enter. Durant Camellias The Seasonal Display House is home to a 132-year-old Durant camellia, Camellia japonica of the Theaceae family. It is a lone survivor of a collection, donated by Mr. Henry Fowle Durant, founder of Wellesley College. A nearby plant marker explains that four camellias were part of Mr. Durant’s collection; in 1914 two plants were lost during a fire and the two remaining camellias were placed in this house in 1922. Later one of the camellias was taken out and other types of camellias have since been added. Hydrophte House In here are several pools, home to plants that have developed specialized root or air systems to thrive in a watery environment. The small duckweed - up to large examples like papyrus, bamboo or the mangrove tree - is included here. Fergie, a spouting frog fountain set in the center pool, finds this a perfect home. Laboratories Under Glass The Margaret C. Ferguson Greenhouse's brochure says, "She called the greenhouses 'laboratories under glass'." The plants you will find here are not adorned in foil ready to dazzle and shine. More likely they will be found dressed in salt-crusted clay pots, set among less manicured landscapes, but ready to teach us how they grow and thrive. The visiting gardener will learn, first by the feel of the environment and then by observing the plants.Margaret C. Ferguson

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