Life in gardens: colored eggs

chicken fed food color, Library of Congress“Possible now to color yolks of eggs “red, white and blue” by feeding hens different feeds,” April 7, 1939, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Washington, D.C., April 7. . . . Charles A. Denton, Junior Chemist, poultry nutrition laboratory of the National Agriculture Research Center, Beltsville, Maryland, feeding a hen a certain food to produce a definite colored yolk.

— from the original Harris & Ewing caption

Blue eggs and ham?

More photos of the Department of Agriculture in action in the 1930s here and here.

. . . Yesterday the egg so fresh
it felt hot in his hand and he pressed it
to his ear. . . .
riveted to the secret of birds
caught up inside his fist. . . .

— Naomi Shihab Nye, from “Boy and Egg

Life in gardens: spring dance

Rites of Spring, 1927, Wash.DC, Library of CongressDancers and cherry blossoms, [Tidal Basin,] Washington, D.C.,” between 1923 and 1929, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., began on March 20 and continues until April 12. This year, the National Park Service is predicting that peak bloom will occur between April 11 and 14.

The first Tidal Basin Yoshino cherry trees — a gift from the city of Tokyo — were planted in 1912. The first organized celebration of them was held in 1927, when D.C. schoolchildren reenacted the planting.  The first Cherry Blossom Festival, which became the annual event, took place in 1935.

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)

Vintage landscape: tree delivery

White House tree delivered, Mar. 1922, via Library of Congress. . . to the White House, Washington, D.C., March 1922, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Thomas Jefferson, the second President to occupy the White House, directed that hundreds of small trees be planted in groves around the grounds (none of them exist today).

John Quincy Adams was the first to add ornamental trees. Andrew Jackson brought in the first sycamores, elms, and maples.

There’s more about the history of the White House gardens and grounds here.

What kind of small tree/large shrub do you think this was?

I never before knew the full value of trees. My house is entirely embossomed in high plane-trees, with good grass below; and under them I breakfast, dine, write, read, and receive my company. What would I not give that the trees planted nearest round the house at Monticello were full grown.

Thomas Jefferson to his daughter, Martha, (from Philadelphia), 1793

Vintage landscape: winter ice of ’22

Skating on the Reflecting Pool of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., January 1922, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

To scroll through larger versions of the images, click on any of the thumbnails in the gallery.

The Pool and its surroundings were actually still under construction when these skaters took to the ice. From 1922 to the 1980s, people skated on the Pool during very cold periods (it’s no longer allowed).

These photos may have been taken between January 23 and 27, when an Arctic airmass was keeping Washington’s temperatures down below freezing.  On the 28th, it began to snow, eventually accumulating to 28″ (71 cm.).*  

This was the infamous Knickerbocker Storm, so named because, about 9:00 p.m. that night, the flat roof of the Knickerbocker Theater collapsed during a movie, killing 98 people and injuring 133.


*It was D.C.’s deepest snow on record until 2010.