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News Release

October 23, 2009

chrysanthemumsNORTHAMPTON, Mass.—For two weeks in November, as the colors fade outdoors, floral fireworks will be erupting inside Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory during the annual fall chrysanthemum show, which runs from Saturday, Nov. 7, through Sunday, Nov. 22. An even more extravagant display than Smith’s well-known spring bulb show, the display includes oversized blooms in unexpected shapes and colors, some reaching 8 inches in diameter and perched atop plants up to 7 feet tall.

The theme for this year's show is "Bamboo and Blossoms" and will feature bamboo sculptures, both indoors and outdoors, by Nancy Moore Bess and Harry Bower, plus four lectures, a chrysanthemum-themed poetry reading, harp music and a photography exhibition. For the full schedule of events, visit

The stunning Lyman Conservatory showcase includes chrysanthemums grown in the traditional Japanese style, painstakingly trained to grow downward and form a “waterfall of flowers” along the conservatory wall. Growing and training them in that style is so labor intensive that chrysanthemum cascades are rarely seen in the United States. Yet for two weeks these plants will flaunt blooms with beguiling appeal right here in Northampton.

Since the early 1900s, Smith horticulture students have been trying their hands at hybridizing, experimenting with the wide assortment in color and form of chrysanthemum flowers. The results are showcased each year at the chrysanthemum show. The public will be able to vote for their favorite “Chrysanthemum of the Year” at the show.

On Friday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m., Nancy Moore Bess will present an illustrated lecture, “Growing and Preparing Bamboo for Basketry” in the Carroll Room, Campus Center. The $5 admission fee includes a reception and entry into the chrysanthemum show following the lecture, which is free to Friends of the Botanic Garden and Smith College I.D. holders.

On Friday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m., Paul Meyer, director of the Morris Arboretum, will give a lecture, “Garden Notes from China,” to go along with his photography exhibit, "A Plantsman in Asia," on view through Dec. 15 in the Church Exhibition Gallery, Lyman Conservatory. The lecture is in Stoddard Hall Auditorium, and the $5 admission fee includes a reception and entry into the chrysanthemum show following the talk.

Smith College students from the course "The Culture of the Lyric in Traditional China: Plants and Poetry" will read selected poems on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. in the Church Exhibition Gallery, Lyman Conservatory. Chrysanthemum tea will be served.

On Wednesday Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m., Janet Bissell, a volunteer at Smith’s Botanic Garden, will lead a photographic journey through southwestern China with her free lecture, “Exploring Yunnan Province in China with the New England Wild Flower Society” in Campus Center 205.

On Friday, Nov. 20, at 4:30 p.m., Xiaofei Tian, professor of Chinese literature at Harvard University, will present a free lecture, “What’s Mud Got to Do with It: Botany, Cultural History and the Ideology of a Flower” in Seelye Hall 106. The lecture will be followed by a reception and free admission to the chrysanthemum show from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

The chrysanthemum show at the Lyman Conservatory is open to the public daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is wheelchair accessible. Parking is available on College Lane for the two weeks of the show.

This year there will be a $2 admission charge to the chrysanthemum show, but admission is free on Mondays and Friday, Nov. 20, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Additionally the show is free for children under 12 and members of the Friends of the Botanic Garden.

For more detailed information about the fall chrysanthemum show, the associated events, or the Friends of the Botanic Garden, visit our web site:

For disability access information or to request accommodations, call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or e-mail All requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the event.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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