Lilies Ready by Greenhouse Open House March 28 and 29
March 12, 2008
The annual UNH Greenhouse Open House is March 28 and 29, 2008. Photo: Cheryl Smith.
Chris Robarge and horticultural technology students at the Thompson School
of Applied Science have been planning since December to force spring flowering
bulbs, herbs, cyclamen, and Easter lilies into bloom for the earliest Easter
in nearly 35 years.
Even though Easter is early, Robarge is right on time.
“I think my lilies will be a little early this year, but that’s
fine. I’d rather have them early than late,” he says. An early
bloom might have them ready just in time for Easter, a week before the annual
UNH Greenhouse Open House March 28 and 29 (9 am to 4 pm).
Robarge manages the Thompson School horticultural facility, where students
take care of the plants and plan the themed rooms of the conservatory and greenhouse
for the popular open house, which coincides with the Seacoast Home & Garden
Show at the nearby Whittemore Center.
In addition to spring bulbs and flowering plants for sale, the Greenhouse
Open House will offer the opportunity to get a head start on vegetable gardens.
Each year students raise more than 250 miniature cherry tomato plants to sell
at the open house.
In preparation for the open house, Robarge’s students bought tulips,
hyacinth, daffodils, and crocus bulbs last fall, keeping them stored in a controlled
environment for the spring show. They also have an assortment of trees, shrubs
and perennials which they have wintered over under microfoam for good keeping.
“Some cold springs, we’ve had to force the winter stock open from
hibernation,” Robarge says.
Students also began planning and designing themes for their landscape displays
in the fall. In the spring they implement the design, including construction
and plant forcing. This has transformed the areas in past years into tropical
oases, villages with thatched-roofed buildings, medieval villages with rock
walls, and an Oriental garden with a pond and a foot bridge. The themed areas
this year include an enchanted forest and a summer boardwalk.
Robarge anticipates up to 3,000 people walking through the 6,000 square feet
of greenhouse space.
“It’s something we can do to give back to the community. The open
house is different enough each year that you can come and learn something new
every time,” Robarge says. There will be lectures and discussion panels
as well as practical advice for gardening. The event is free.
This is the 35th year the Thompson School has hosted a Greenhouse Open House
in conjunction with the plant biology department, Cooperative Extension, and
the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. The greenhouse is located behind
Putnam Hall on the west edge of campus. Shuttle buses will run between the
greenhouses and the Whittemore Center. For more information, go to www.thompsonschool.unh.edu or call 2-3200.