Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The new Greenhouse at the Arboretum is now open; after a trial period during which we will master the systems we'll try it with plants!

This is the main hallway; if it looks antiseptic, sterile, and technologically intimidating, I did a good job with the photograph! It's not like the greenhouses of my youth. I remember Behnke's old glass houses with lead (and no doubt asbestos) in the glazing, algae covered structure, and hand-cranked chain-operated vents. Hey we had houses like that here not so long ago. And I grew up frequenting Merrill's orchid houses in Kensington. This feels more like a hospital. The massive stainless steel doors ought to open into operating rooms. Wow. And sterility will be our goal. All plants entering will be inspected.

We're all Dr. Moreau and the plants are no longer adored objects of our obsession, but innocent victims helpless in our decontaminated prisons.....well, maybe not. I guess there is a design precedent or two. The old Persian walled-gardens used rigidly linear geometric hardscape to provide counterpoint and stage for the uncontained riot of the botanical world. All the metal, glass, hydraulics, and electronics in this new greenhouse don't approach the magic of one seed germinating and growing into a plant. I think I'm fine now.

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