UMass is lucky to be one of the colleges included in the Five College Consortium, which also includes Smith, Hampshire, Amherst, and Mount Holyoke Colleges. Involvement in the consortium means students can take classes at any of the five colleges, regardless of where they are enrolled. This also means that we have access to events and resources at all five colleges!
Smith College, a private all-female liberal arts school in Northampton, is home to a beautiful botanic garden that is open to both students and the public. It is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and has a suggested donation of $2 for admittance.
I visited the Botanic Garden, specifically the Lyman Conservatory, for the first time this past Friday and was definitely impressed! One of the only remaining plant conservatories in the U.S. that was built in the 1800s, the architecture of the greenhouses are stunning. Lyman has a beautiful dainty and ornate appearance, and is situated right next to Mill River, which runs through part of Smith’s campus and leads to Paradise Pond. There are multiple greenhouses for the different types of plants, including a warm-weather room for non-local species that can’t handle New England weather. My personal favorite was the succulent room; it was very dry due to housing so many cacti, but it was cool to see just how many types exist!
While I did enjoy my time at Smith, I was surprised at how I actually prefer UMass’ own Durfee Conservatory. Despite being much smaller, I think Durfee offers a better layout and prettier selection of plants to view. Even Smith’s renowned botanic garden can’t top the koi fish pond with a cute little bridge over it!