Six Ways to See Flowers in Boston in March

Crocuses are pushing their obstinate heads through the last remnants of dirty snow outside my office, but make no mistake — spring is still a good ways off. March may roar in like a lion, but in New England, it doesn’t so much go out like a lamb as like a slightly-less-aggressive-I-just-ate-an-antelope baby lion.

Nonetheless, if you’re itching for a bit more greenery, there are a few places you can get a preview of the lushness to come. In no particular order:

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum greenhouse

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum greenhouse

1. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Their verdant glassed-in courtyard is a perfectly climate-controlled jewel box this time of year. Palm trees, a fountain, potted orchids. Alas, they don’t allow camera use or cellphone use inside the museum proper — I CAN NO HAZ INSTAGRAM?! — but I did snap a photo of their greenhouse, replete with back-up flora. Should any plant-life flag or fail in performance of its duties, I suspect one of these runners-up will quickly get the call.

2. The MFA’s Art in Bloom weekend. Confession time: I have never attended this institutional Boston event. This year is going to be different! The event will feature roughly 70 floral arrangements throughout the museum, inspired by the works of art on display. Keep an eye out for their other floral events this spring; my mom, aunt, and I just attended an ikebana demonstration — that’s a spare, deeply meaningful form of flower arranging from Japan. (Also noted: arranging a few willow branches in a vase is much cheaper than buying a huge bouquet of blossoms, even if you buy them at Shaws.)

3. The Lyman Estate Greenhouses. Somehow, these are in Waltham — just a stone’s throw from my Watertown office — and yet I have never heard of them. Obviously, time to rectify that situation. From the website, I deduce that these are among the oldest surviving greenhouses in America, and that they contain camellias, grapes, and orchids.

4. The Limonaia at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. You’ve heard of orangeries. Well, Tower Hill built a limonaia a few years ago — and that’s another spot I fully intend to visit this winter. Spring. Sprinter. Wring. Springer. Whatever we’re calling it.

5. The Ferguson Greenhouses at Wellesley College. Lo and behold, the most diverse under-glass botanicals in the greater Boston area just happen to be at Wellesley College. While I’ve wandered Wellesley’s arboreal campus many times, I don’t think I’ve ever wandered inside their 16 greenhouses — or even realized that they had any.

6. The Museum of Science’s Butterfly Garden. I once went to a butterfly garden on the outskirts of London and found it a magical, if slightly creepy, place. (They’re still bugs, even if they’re bugs with beautiful wings.) I haven’t been to the MOS’s version, but it promises to be “tropical” — and it’s cheaper than Curtain Bluff.

Did I leave off any favorites of yours? Let me know in the comments!

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