Category Archives: plants

Vintage landscape: begonias

A little Monday morning pink and white…

Flowers in a Greenhouse, early 20 c., Te PapaFlowers in a greenhouse,” between 1900 and 1930, an autochrome by James W. Chapman-Taylor, via Te Papa Tongarewa (Museum of New Zealand)

Begonia House, c. 1913, via Te Papa“Begonia House, Domain Gardens, Auckland,” 1915, an autochrome by Robert Walrond, via Te Papa Tongarewa.

The irresistible and benevolent light
brushes through the angel-wing begonias. . .

The blooms are articulate deluge. . .

Elizabeth Woody, from “Illumination

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The Sunday porch: wisteria par excellence

In honor of the wisteria now beginning to bloom in many regions, here is a Sunday porch redux from 2013:

“On abandon, uncalled for but called forth. . . .”*

full cropped

I think this is the loveliest wisteria I have ever seen.  It grew on the porch columns of “Wisteria House,” at Massachusetts Avenue and Eleventh Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. The photo was taken in 1919, by Martin A. Gruber.**

The house was torn down in 1924 to make room for the Wisteria Mansion apartment building.

Wisteria House detail, 1919, via Smithsonian Institution Commons

A naval officer brought the vine from China and gave it to the owner of the house, probably during the 1860s, according to the blog Greater Greater Washington.

Wisteria House, Harris & Ewing photo

The Harris & Ewing** photo above, taken between 1910 and 1920, shows the trunks of the (one?) plant emerging through openings at the base of the porch.  The house was built in 1863, and the two-story portico was added in 1869 — so it looks like the wisteria was planted between those years and protected during the construction.

Wisteria House, LOC photo

The National Photo Company image above shows the house about 1920.

*Lucie Brock-Broido, from “Extreme Wisteria

**Top and second (a detail of the first) photos via the Smithsonian Institution Archives Commons on flickr.  Third and fourth photos via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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Life in gardens: last look

As April’s cherry blossoms fade away, here is one more vintage scene.

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“Street life in Yokohama park with blossoming cherry trees,” from the photo collection of  journalist Holger Rosenberg, who traveled to Japan in 1903, via National Museum of Denmark Commons on flickr.

In Japan this week, the flowers are at their peak only in the most northern regions.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ below to scroll through larger versions of the images.

the clouds of
a thousand skies from
cherry buds

Saigyo Hoshi

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Vintage landscape: the Wizard Tree

Wizard Tree, Library of CongressThe Wizard tree, Cathedral Woods, Intervale, New Hampshire, ca. 1900, a photochrom by Detroit Photographic Co., via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

According to the blog Cow Hampshire, this tree — a birch — “became one of the most frequently photographed and promoted trees in New Hampshire” by 1904.  Its story is here.

Today, the last Friday in April, is Arbor Day in much of the United States.

Here in Germany, we will celebrate Tag des Baumes tomorrow, April 25.

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Home sweet France

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Of course France isn’t our home, but after years of passing through — on our way to and from Francophone African countries — visiting beautiful Strasbourg this weekend felt like a petit homecoming in general awareness.

Suddenly, I could speak to people in their own language* (albeit, simply and ungrammatically), understand signs, and go to Monoprix and read all the product labels. The skies opened. . . .

I love living in Germany, but, thus far, the German language is a stone wall to me. Thankfully, the school system here is so good that you can always find someone who speaks at least fair English. I do try to maintain an appropriately ashamed look every time I say, “I sorry, I don’t speak German.”

Anyway, Strasbourg was great, and I saw my first blooming wisteria this year there.

I can recommend Hôtel Gutenberg,  flammkuchen (aka tarte flambée) with a glass of pinot gris for lunch, and the boat tour of the River Ill, which circles the city center. And the spectacular cathedral is celebrating its 1,000th birthday this year.

What’s the French for “fiddle-de-dee”? . . .
The “Fiddle” we know, but what’s from “Dee”?
Le chat assis in an English tree?

John Hollander, from “For ‘Fiddle-de-de’

*in French, of course, but the native language of  Strasbourg is actually Alsatian, a dialect of German that is spoken by 43% of the region’s population, according to Wikipedia.

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