Yellow flag iris (I. pseudacorus) in the basins of the Italian Gardens of Kensington Gardens, London, June 1924, by Roger Dumas, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine.
These water gardens are over 150 years old and may have been a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria.
This autochrome is one of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker and pacifist, between 1909 and 1931. Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to fifty countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.'”* The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.
The 1850 house still exists, and its 500 acres have been placed in a conservation easement. An earlier home on the plantation sheltered Thomas Jefferson’s family when the British raided Monticello in 1780.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth. . .
–John Keats, from “A Thing of Beauty“