'Fields of Flowers': Four Reasons to Visit the Spring Bulb Show

Photo by Elizabeth Vanderveen

During March, more than 20,000 visitors will pass through the doors of Smith’s Lyman Plant House to see the annual Spring Bulb Show.

This year’s show, “Fields of Flowers,” opens Saturday, March 4, at 10 a.m., offering members of the Smith community and visitors alike a chance to escape the winter cold and discover a springtime paradise on campus.

The bulb show, which runs through Sunday, March 19, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is a suggested donation of $5.

Here are four reasons why this year’s bulb show is a must-see event:


  1. A Fun and Flowery Theme: “Fields of Flowers” gives visitors a chance to get lost in the flowering bulb nurseries of Holland through the eyes of Irish artist Mima Nixon (1861-1939). Reproductions of Nixon’s watercolors from the 1909 book, Dutch Bulbs and Gardens, will combine with flowers grown from the same fields she painted more than a century ago to create an unforgettable visual experience. “Where does the painting end and live bulbs begin?” asks Smith’s conservatory manager Rob Nicholson. “Come and see for yourself!”
  2. Unusual Views: Adjacent to the conservatory in the Church Exhibition Gallery is “Plant Adaptation Up Close: A Biological and Artistic Interpretation,” which explores how plants have evolved to survive challenging environments. On display through Sunday, March 26, the exhibit features artistic photomicroscopy by Joan Wiener and scientific explanations of a diverse range of plant adaptations. Ever wondered what plants look like at a level that is usually hidden to the naked eye? This is your opportunity to find out.
  3. An Expert Talk on Plant Evolution: Although plants grow slowly, some have fast movements that are best captured on high-speed video. Botanist Joan Edwards, professor and chair of the biology department at Williams College, will explore this phenomenon in a talk on “Botanical Explosions: The Evolutionary Impact of Ultra-Fast Plants” Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Carroll Room. Edwards will use high-speed video to define the biomechanics of ultra-fast plant growth and provide a better understanding of plant evolution. The talk will be followed by a reception and preview of the bulb show in the illuminated plant house and conservatory.
  4. A Break From the Cold: Lyman Plant House is especially welcoming during the Spring Bulb Show, when the blooms make the air smell like the first hints of spring. And don’t miss the post-show bulb sale on Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to noon for members only, and from noon to 3 p.m. for the general public; and on Sunday March, 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. also in Lyman Plant House.