Howey: Explore greenhouse treasures

Illustration by Frank Neufeld

On Friday, Feb. 19, two groups from the University of Western Ontario Staff Association (UWOSA) were given a tour of the Western Greenhouses by Vicky Lightfoot, Facilities Manager in the Biology Department. They were shown both the lower greenhouses, where all the actual experimenting with plants and plant diseases is done, as well as the upper greenhouses which, in addition to being used in research, comprise a fascinating collection of plants – a showplace.

Ornamental, food and medicinal plants, as well as those used in industry, like the Mahogany Tree and the Kapok Tree, are there. Some of these plants have been there since ‘the beginning’ – John Johansen’s and botanist President Dr. Sherwood Fox’s time back in the 1940s. Some have roots that stretch down through their pots and into the ground below (the Night Blooming Cereus) and those whose leaves and branches extend upward and would probably reach out beyond the roft unless they were regularly pruned (the Jacaranda Tree). They come from countries across the globe, many being brought back from travels and donated – the Hawaiian Fern Tree, a wonderful orchid collection, South African Bulbs, the fragrant Frangipani (Plumeria). Many are plants you will be unable to see anywhere else here in London. Competent staff have propagated Gardenias, the Desert Rose, Jade Plants, Gingers and Camelias.

These greenhouses are a valuable addition to Western and should be viewed, photographed, sketched and, certainly, cherished by the whole community.

Frances Howey
Arts 1960