Greenhouse a refuge from winter woes

February 13, 2020 By Bryce Richter

I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about had my fill of winter. While it hasn’t been a particularly brutal season (yet), it’s still winter any way you look at it. I can only take so much frozen, snow-covered ground under my feet and biting wind in my face before it starts to wear me down a bit. Maybe it’s just my Texas roots showing through, but I find myself wishing for the days to get a little longer, a little warmer and a lot greener.

Bryce inside the greenhouse in front of green plants with his eyeglasses fogged over

It would take a few moments for University Communications staff photographer Bryce Richter’s foggy glasses to adjust after he escaped from the frigid outdoor air into the balmy Botany Greenhouse. Photo: Bryce Richter

If you harbor any similar feelings, I’m going to let you in on a bit of a secret. There’s a place you can go to escape the snow, the cold and the watery gray of a Wisconsin winter. No, I’m not talking about California or Florida. It’s somewhere right here on campus. The Botany Greenhouse in Birge Hall is an 8,000-square-foot oasis of warmth and greenery everywhere you look. Remember green?

Home to the Department of Botany’s extensive collection of more than 1,000 species of plants in a variety of climates, including desert and tropical, the Botany Greenhouse is an essential teaching and research facility for UW faculty and students. The collection houses a large variety of plants, including aquatics, ferns, orchids, succulents and woody plants that are used in teaching many of the botany courses. The facility also provides a dedicated space for the botany department faculty, staff and students to conduct a wide span of research topics.

If you would like to visit, the greenhouse is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Be sure to leave your coat on the rack outside the entrance, you won’t need it.

The winding halls and stairways of Birge Hall lead to the well-hidden but worth-the-trip Botany Greenhouse. University Communications video by Amy Gill