Category Archives: plants

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: 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: Gympie

The Sunday porch/enclos*ure: Gympie porch, ca. 1871, State Library of Queensland“Reading the paper in a Gympie[, Queensland,] garden,” ca. 1871, by Edward H. Forster, via State Library of Queensland Commons on flickr.

Edward Forster was a professional photographer who worked in and around Gympie, a gold-mining town in eastern Australia, during the 1870s.  Many of his photos feature local families in front of their cottages.

‘Gympie’ is an aboriginal term for Dendrocnide moroides, a stinging shrub in the area.

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Vintage landscape: Petit Trianon

Petit Trianon, Versailles, FrancePetit Trianon, Versailles, France, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900, a photochrom by Detroit Publishing Co., via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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