I know a spot.

Every Barnard person I know has said they meant to go to the greenhouse freshman year and never went, even seniors. I was one such Barnard student—but no longer. I went! 

Approaching the door to the greenhouse stairs, I was for some reason expecting to be disappointed by it. I rang the doorbell, and was buzzed into a slightly ominous looking stairwell. As I climbed, leaves and branches started poking into my frame of view. 

The air smelled distinctly of crayons. A friendly student met me at the top of the stairs and gave me a quick layout of the place. They explained that there’s a hallway that connects several different bays with varying environments, one room is the biggest and is most filled with plants. I stepped into this main bay and was overwhelmed by a rush of warm humid air that smelled powerfully and nostalgically of the woods in the summer after it rains. I don’t often feel or think about smells strongly, but the petrichor-y, wet soil and moss smell was something so clean, that I had completely forgotten existed that I sort of stood there stunned for a second. Then I regained the rest of my senses and started looking around at the wonderful flood of green around me. 

As I wandered through the clumps of mysterious looking plants, I noticed two people in different spots in the room sitting in chairs and looking very intently at the plants. I realized that there were sketchbooks in their laps, they were drawing very small and specific parts of plants, which I found very charming.

After meandering around the room for a bit I explored a few of the other rooms. My favorite room was one on the end where there were a few tanks with water plants like lily pads and water grasses. In the same room there was a dwarf pomegranate tree with two whole pomegranates on it!

There was also a room with a collection of cacti, and also… rocks? In pots? They were labeled as “living stones” and I am still not sure if they were just the most stone-looking cacti ever or if they were actually just rocks. Either way, it was charming and the rest of the succulents and cacti were truly wonders to behold in their many complicated structures and colors.

All in all, it was an absolutely wonderful experience. I highly recommend stopping into the greenhouse during their open hours, and perhaps you’ll see me there with a chair drawing some still lives.

Images via Author.