Seasonal blossoms add color to an ocean of dark green and light green plants, lovingly arranged underneath the sunlight-painted shadows of tall trees.
Is it an entrance to a botanic garden? No, it is the indoor garden in Fermilab’s main office building, Wilson Hall.
For as long as Wilson Hall has existed, the indoor garden has brought life to its atrium. Back in the day — the early 1970s — architect William Roeh and Tropical Plant Rentals, a local interior landscape company, were hired to design the very first garden and bring it to life.
“During the opening party, Dr. Robert Wilson wandered along the garden and took great interest in our work,” said Gerry Leider, owner of Tropical Plant Rentals and partner of Roeh during the first garden design, referring to the laboratory’s founding director.
As part of the first garden, Leider and Roeh planted two trees. One of the trees still casts its shadows over younger plants today.
The gardening contractor may have changed, but not the beauty and message of the garden: to make Wilson Hall a green and inspiring place and to reflect the energy of the people working there.
Today the garden arrangement is handled by Schaefer Greenhouses, whose garden designers truly enjoy the possibilities offered by Wilson Hall. They change the colors with the seasons and care for the garden at least once a week.
“Coming to Wilson Hall is always a welcoming experience,” said Laurie Dempsey, garden designer from Schaefer Greenhouses. “We enjoy the freedom of creativity we have and the warmth of the people we encounter.”
Fermilab has put no restrictions on the gardeners concerning plant choice or arrangements. The creativity of the designers is limited only by the light exposure that is available for the plants. Of course other criteria such as plant size, shape and color, life span, blooming phase and seasonal colors are also important for defining their place in the arrangement.
Having so much freedom, the garden designers love to experiment with uncommon plant choices or arrangements.
And Wilson Hall denizens likewise enjoy the results of the garden designer’s experiments. They do look stunning.