Category Archives: nature

Vintage landscape: daffodils

Middleburg, Va., flower show, 1931, Library of CongressMiddleburg Flower Show, Middleburg, Virginia, April 1931, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Right now, here in Stuttgart, a few daffodils have poked up from our front yard. I will probably pick them. I don’t usually like Narcissus in the landscape in early spring — the bright yellow is too much, too soon.  But, like those in the photo above, they look really nice in a vase.

There are also some fat cultivated Dutch hyacinths by our front door. They’re going to get the chop too.

In the fall, for next March and early April, I want to plant snowdrops and snake’s head fritillarias.

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Life in gardens: sowing

Gardeners at the 1936 White Hse., Library of Congress“Grounds workers at White House, Washington, D.C.,” March 1936, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. (You can click on the photo to enlarge it.)

The National Park Service has maintained the White House gardens since 1933.

. . . [W]hile lawns are cultural (in the sense that they are meaning-laden), they are not the product of some pre-existing “culture,” and are instead the meaningful expression of political and economic forces. . . . Lawns are propelled into the landscape both by economic imperatives (e.g., real estate growth) and also by intentional and thoughtful efforts to produce certain kinds of subjects. Lawns are a strategy, therefore, both for capital accumulation and making docile and responsible citizens.

– Paul Robbins, from Lawn People: How Grasses, Weeds, and Chemicals Make Us Who We Are (p. 32)

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Vintage landscape: great deal

Victory garden poster, National Archives“Victory Garden Plots Free For Employees ca. 1942 – ca. 1943″ poster, created by the Office of Emergency Management, War Production Boardvia U.S. National Archives Commons on flicker.

The location is Brierly’s Lane near the intersection with Duquesne Road (Bull Run Road).  I think this is in Munhall, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

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Vintage landscape: preparation

Starting seeds 2, 1943, L. Rosskam, Library of Congress“Washington, D.C. Victory gardening in the Northwest section. [Tomato s]eedlings in paper cups that will be transplanted in the victory garden,” 1943, by Louise Rosskam, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. (Another view here.)

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The Sunday porch: Ste. Genevieve, Mo.

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- 1934 J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressThe Jean Baptiste Valle House from the southeast, Sainte Genevieve,  Missouri, April 10, 1934, by Alexander Piaget, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The town of Ste. Genevieve is the oldest permanent European settlement in Missouri — established about 1735 by French Canadian colonists. Today, its National Historic Landmark District has a number of surviving late 18th century and early 19th century homes.

The Jean Baptiste Valle house was built between 1785 and 1796 by Valle and his wife, Jeanne Barbeau.

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- 1934 J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., S.W. view, HABS, Library of CongressA view of the southwest corner (same photographer and date as above).

The house has an “interrupted French colonial gallery” porch on all sides.

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- cropped 1985 plan of J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressA plan of the property drawn in 1985 for HABS. The site is about 200′ x 250′.

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- 1934 J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., N.W. view, HABS, Library of CongressA view of the garden from the interior of the west-side porch (seen on the left side of the second photo above), 1933, photographer not noted.

This section of porch connected a back bedroom and the kitchen.

These pictures from the 1930s were part of photographic surveys of early Missouri sites made by Alexander and Paul Piaget and Charles von Ravenswaay. In 1984, their work was donated to the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) collection of the Library of Congress (all photos here via the LoC).

1934-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressA view of the flower garden on the north side of the house, April 10, 1934, by Piaget.

Spring 1934-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressLilac along a pathway.

The photo above and the two below are not dated, but also seem to have been taken in April 1934. The steps went into the kitchen pantry.

probably April 1934-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressThe garden was laid out in 1867.

probably 1934-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of Congress

1985-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressAn undated view of the garden entrance “at side.”

West side, 1985-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressThe west garden and porch in 1986, by Jack Boucher for HABS. Additional images and information were added to this property’s survey in 1985 and 86.

Today, the house is not open to the public. However, in 2013, it was sold to the National Society of the Colonial Dames to ensure its preservation.

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