Muscari armeniacum, ‘Big Smile’ grape hyacinth, will make a return appearance at this year’s Berkshire Botanical Garden bulb show. Photo courtesy BBG

Bits & Bytes: Berkshire Botanical Garden Bulb Show; OLLI talk on conspiracy theories; Flying Cloud S•M•Art Summer Program; St. Mary’s School hits 100 in-person days

Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Bulb Show returns March 1

STOCKBRIDGE — Berkshire Botanical Garden (BBG) will welcome the public to its annual Bulb Show, beginning March 1. During a two-week period, visitors to the greenhouse will see an evolving collection of 1,400 blooming bulbs, including New England favorites and lesser-known varieties, chosen by BBG’s horticulturists.

Bulb Show photo courtesy BBG

Some of the standouts from last year’s show will return, including the diminutive Muscari armeniacum ‘Big Smile’ Grape Hyacinth and the Fritillaria meleagris, or Guinea Hen Flower, with its nodding, bell-shaped blooms in a variety of colors and faintly checkered patterns. Alongside these will be new inclusions: ‘Vincent Van Gogh,’ a dark purple tulip with fringed petals; a pink-orange ‘Salmon Gem’ tulip; a trio of new daffodils; and two dwarf irises, ‘Harmony’ and ‘Pauline,’ with flowers of blue and deep purple, respectively.

The bulbs will be exhibited amongst the Garden’s collection of succulents, housed year-round in the Fitzpatrick Conservatory.

“Last year’s Bulb Show had to be cut short because of the sudden onset of COVID restrictions and concerns,” said BBG Executive Director Mike Beck. “This year, I am very excited to bring this taste of spring back to the hundreds of visitors who routinely come for a quick escape from winter.”

The Bulb Show runs March 1–14, daily from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Admission is free. In compliance with current state guidelines, advance reservations and masks are required.


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BCC Professor Chris Laney to give talk on conspiracy theories

Berkshire Community College Professor Christopher Laney. Photo courtesy OLLI at BCC

PITTSFIELD — The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Berkshire Community College’s (BCC) Distinguished Speakers Series will present an online talk with BCC Professor Christopher Laney. Are Conspiracy Theories Out to Get Us? will be held, via Zoom, on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.

Conspiracism has been with us since the Puritans believed the Devil was conspiring with witches in Salem. Though conspiracy theories have, at times, been seen as harmless or even fun, recent events show how dangerous they can be. Laney will outline how conspiracy theories have developed in American history, and explore some frameworks for recognizing conspiracism and pushing back against its most pernicious variants.

Laney began offering a course called Conspiracy Theories in American History, in 2009, with an eye toward helping students develop tools to sort out real conspiracies from unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.

Admission to the talk is $10 for OLLI and Berkshire Museum members; $15 for the general public. Admission is free for BCC students, those 17 and under, and anyone holding WIC, EBT/SNAP, or ConnectorCare cards. Pre-registration is required. Register online or by calling 413-236-2190.


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Flying Cloud Institute offers S•M•Art Summer Program

Pre-pandemic fun at the S•M•Art summer program. Photo courtesy Flying Cloud

GREAT BARRINGTON — Flying Cloud Institute will again offer sessions of its S•M•Art Summer Studio program, at the Greenagers’ April Hill property in South Egremont and founders’ Jane and Larry Burke’s farm in New Marlborough.

Sessions will run June 28–July 30 at the April Hill campus, from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. each weekday, during one- or two-week sessions. The curriculum is geared toward children ages 6–14. Child-led projects and activities in the program may include ceramics, science investigations, visual art, dance, theater, outdoor exploration and play, engineering, and robotics. Students may sign up for more than one session without repeating projects.

Two special introductory week sessions will be offered for 5- and 6-year-olds, from July 26–30 at April Hill, and July 19–23 in New Marlborough. Recently graduated students and soon-to-be graduates will introduce the children to the places, activities, and games at Flying Cloud, as well as collaborate on art and science projects.

The New Marlborough campus offers an onsite pottery studio, art barn, and extensive grounds filled with forests for building, playing, and exploring. At the April Hill property, participants use the historic farmhouse and barn for workshops in science, art, and engineering, as well as explore the meadows, a garden run by Greenagers, and the nearby Appalachian Trail.

Tuition is charged per session and financial aid is available to qualifying families. Transportation from Sheffield or Great Barrington to the New Marlborough campus is also available. To apply, visit Flying Cloud Institute or call (413) 645-3058.


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St. Mary’s School celebrates 100 days of in-person learning

LEE — St. Mary’s School will celebrate 100 days of in-person learning for the 2020-2021 academic year on Thursday, Feb. 25. Thanks to safety precautions like masking, distancing, and hand washing, St. Mary’s has not experienced any spread of COVID-19 since opening its doors to in-person learning on August 31, 2020.

This year, St. Mary’s has held classes for approximately 110 students, ranging from preschool through 8th grade. The Lee campus is one of 14 Western Massachusetts schools operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, all of which have offered traditional in-person education this academic year. This year’s enrollment has increased by approximately 25% over last year.

“St. Mary’s staff, teachers, students, and families have been conscientious in following common sense COVID-19 safety protocols, which have allowed us to operate our school entirely in-person this academic year. While seeing our students learn and grow has been a blessing, our hearts go out to the many students, parents, and teachers who are struggling to make the best of remote learning,” Principal Jennifer Masten said.

St. Mary’s school will celebrate the 100 days milestone with a day of friendly competition including STEM and art projects, classroom door decorating, and more.