Campus Corners: Val’s Plant Nook

In this new series, The Student highlights the unique spaces and places that make up our campus, in miniature. In this edition, Sylvie Wolff ’25 covers the small family of plants on the second floor of Valentine Residence Hall.

Campus Corners: Val’s Plant Nook
Carl Carrano, the custodian of Valentine Residence Hall, maintains a collection of potted plants in the dorm that he inherited from the previous custodian. Photo courtesy of Sylvie Wolff ’25.

At the end of the hallway on the second floor of Valentine Residence Hall, there lives a small family of plants, among them a small pine tree, a spider plant, and many varieties of cacti. The plants line the windowsill and crowd a small table below the south-facing window. Valentine’s custodian, Carl Carrano, takes care of them.

It was a stroke of luck that Carrano, who started working at Amherst in August 2022, inherited the plant corner from the custodian who worked in Val before him. Carrano, who describes himself as a plant hobbyist, has not yet added his own plants to the corner, but hopes to do so soon: “The first thing I want to do is grow a peanut plant, but right now I’m working on the wicking system to water the plants.” Carrano is currently trying out a wick watering system that uses absorbent rope to carry water from a mason jar to the roots of the plant. “That way, the plants decide how much water they need,” he said.

Carrano hopes that the plant corner can spark curiosity and start conversations about growing. “I’d like it if somebody could look at it and go, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, I want to try that,’” he said. “You don’t even have to know anything about plants, you just have to want to know about plants. Even if you grow a cactus, grow something; that something creates oxygen, so create something.”