Editor Emeritus Grace Fitzgerald-Diaz tells you all you need to know about one of the best spaces on the Barnumbia campus.

Barnard’s Arthur Ross greenhouse, which is housed on the top floor of Milbank Hall, is arguably one of the most pleasant and least stressful spaces on campus. The greenhouse has several different rooms for plants with different climate needs, and is largely a teaching collection. As such, it strives to have as many live examples of as many important plant families as possible. Within these families, the greenhouse has as wide a variety of plants as it can, with an emphasis on those with interesting adaptations.

Although the greenhouse is officially hosted within the biology department, it supports academics in many departments; many classes not within the biology department go to the greenhouse for tours. The plants in the greenhouse can be used to spark conversations about greenspaces in an architecture class, or about how we relate to the natural world in a humanities class. In addition to having as many botanically important plants as possible, the greenhouse also has live examples of many commercially important plants such as cinnamon. 

The greenhouse’s work isn’t limited to directly supporting academics. In 2015, Maggie the Magnolia was moved 30 feet, which ultimately killed that form of Maggie—but prior to the move, the greenhouse took several cuttings to propagate Maggie in case of her death. Luckily, two of the cuttings survived, so when Maggie was pronounced dead in 2016, Maggie 2.0, who was the stronger of the two surviving cuttings, was planted in the same place where Maggie was pronounced dead. When she was first planted in Futter Field, there were initial concerns about whether she would survive, as she was still fairly young. However, now she’s now had enough time to establish herself that those initial concerns have largely subsided. Although the second surviving cutting of Maggie has since died, Maggie 2.0 has a bright future ahead of her.

The greenhouse also has open hours twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 3 pm, during which it is open to all students at Barnard and Columbia. Students do not have an appointment to visit during open hours. Students who wish to visit the greenhouse and are unable to go during these times can contact the greenhouse manager to arrange a time to visit.

Images via Author