Katherine Robinson’s bedroom is lined with a bunch of green houseplants.

“I think green plants are cool because I feel like they’re often overlooked. Green is a symbol of life, verdancy, and growth. The human eye can perceive more hues of green than any other color, which I think is cool.”

Robinson, a senior horticulture major from Arlington Heights, did an independent study at the Horticulture Center last spring where she researched what colors mean visually and culturally, and found examples of flowers of different colors for this year’s gardens. She collaborated with Jessica Chambers, director of the Horticulture Center, to design and plan the rainbow and black gardens, and planted and grew seeds in the greenhouse.

“Prior to this experience, I had never been given the opportunity to have my own space and make choices for it. It was a great hands-on, real-world experience, and it was awesome to feel passionate about my work.”

Robinson is interested in researching plant consciousness and examining how plants function compared with humans and how humans relate to plants.

“I’m interested in what feelings are evoked by people when they see a certain type of plant or a certain colored plant, how it makes them feel, and then how the smell or texture adds to the experience. I was able to incorporate almost every sensory aspect of gardening into my independent study,” Robinson said. “What I found is that each color has a different cultural significance, and I think that is beautiful because different people can look at the same-colored garden or individual flower and have completely different associations with it.”

Among the examples of plants and flowers with cultural significance at the center are the sacred basil that is used in India and marigolds that are used during the Day of the Dead celebrations in Latin America.

The products of Robinson’s work (and others) can be seen at the Horticulture’s Autumnal Festival. This year’s theme is “The Rainbow Connection: Celebrating People, Plants, and Their Relationships.”

“We wanted a theme that was inclusive, and we wanted to showcase how plants bring people together,” Chambers said.

The festival will feature a gourd hunt, rotten fruit throwing, scavenger hunt, hayrack rides, color gardens, silent auction and market, a rainbow hut, and a variety of exhibitors.

The Autumnal Festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, September 11, and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, September 12. Tickets are available online at $10 each for ages 13 and up, $5 for ages 3–13, and free for ages 2 and under.