Plants and flowers line a table inside Southwestern College's greenhouse. The greenhouse is home to 142 different kinds of plants and this year marks the 40th anniversary since the greenhouse was established. (Jonathan Woon/Collegian photographer)

By Alissa Sheppard
Staff reporter

As humidity fills the air and the scent of orchids hit your nose, thick green leaves appear with colorful buds potted everywhere. Located behind Mossman Hall and Beech Science Center, Southwestern’s greenhouse is a place that may be familiar to few, but cherished by those who know it.

Going into its 40th year, the greenhouse was first opened in 1972. Retired biology teacher, Max Thompson opened the greenhouse for the biology department. “I have three student workers right now who help with the seeding, watering, cleaning, and any other maintenance that the greenhouse needs,” said Thompson.

A passion for plants is something Derrek Carter-House, biology junior, has always had. “I have always enjoyed working with plants. I plan on going into plant research when I graduate, so I think this is a good opportunity for me,” said Carter-House. He said his work varies depending on what season it is. Sweeping the floors twice a year is his least favorite task in the greenhouse. His favorite is seeding, “I can plant about 288 seeds with my fancy little equipment,” said Carter-House.

Calm and peaceful is how Colton McNinch, biochemistry sophomore, describes the greenhouse. “I spend a lot of my time transplanting plants, which is taking small seedlings and putting them into larger pots, which is one of my favorite things to do,” said McNinch. “The greenhouse has a lot of personality.” He is excited to see what this spring has in store.

Basing the quantity of plants off of the sales from previous years, the green house has already begun preparing for this spring. “We grow bedding plants throughout the spring, which will be ready in April. We grow poinsettias in the fall and orchids all throughout the year,” said Thompson. He said the majority of plants are sold online.

A familiar face to the greenhouse, Michelle Boucher, associate professor of English, says it is a place that she loves to go. “I go every season,” said Boucher. She has been going since the greenhouse first opened. “I get bedding plants in the spring, vegetables in the fall, and poinsettias during Christmas.” Boucher says the greenhouse is the best place to go for poinsettias. “They are my favorite plant, but the ones in the greenhouse are the best because they have gorgeous color and they last long.” She has had a poinsettia from the greenhouse going on two years now. “For people who want to garden but do not know how, Max is the best person to go to. He gives good advice and he can tell you anything you want to know about planting,” said Boucher.

With over 142 plants to choose from, the green house has a variety of options for flower lovers. You may find that exploring this treasure is a must to the SC experience.

Alissa Sheppard is a senior majoring in communication. You may contact her at