Vintage landscape: the iris garden

A little Sunday morning prettiness.

Japanese iris garden in East Hampton, NY/Library of Congress

The Japanese iris garden at “Grey-Croft” in East Hampton, NY, in 1913, on hand-colored glass lantern slides.

Grey-Croft, Library of Congress

The images are part of the Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Grey-Croft, Library of Congress

They were taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston and Mattie Edwards Hewitt, when the two photographers worked together. The slides were used by Johnston as part of her garden and historic house lecture series.

Grey-Croft, Library of Congress

The garden — owned at the time of these pictures by Stephen and Emma Cummins — is now part of the Nature Trail and Bird Sanctuary, according to the Library of Congress online catalogue.

Grey-Croft, Library of Congress

Having [divided, planted, fed, and weeded your irises] more or less faithfully, you will be rewarded by spectacular blooms in May. The iris is one of those plants that may as well be spectacularly well grown as not. Properly done — and it is at least as easy as growing tomatoes or corn or roses or things of that sort — the bloom will be so thick you cannot believe it at all, and the colors will be so sparkling and fresh you will jump (as it were) up and down.

They will be, as a rule, in total perfection by May 22, or whenever the year’s major hail and thunderstorm is scheduled.

— Henry Mitchell, from The Essential Earthman