Two women in a pavilion overlooking irises in Japan, between 1860 and 1910.
This hand-colored photograph comes from the National Museum of Denmark Commons on flickr — part of a collection that belonged to journalist Holger Rosenberg.
Unfortunately, the museum does not have any additional information about it.
In Heian Period [794 -1185] Japanese gardens, built in the Chinese model, buildings occupied as much or more space than the garden. The garden was designed to be seen from the main building and its verandas, or from small pavilions built for that purpose. In later gardens, the buildings were less visible. Rustic teahouses were hidden in their own little gardens, and small benches and open pavilions along the garden paths provided places for rest and contemplation. In later garden architecture, walls of houses and teahouses could be opened to provide carefully framed views of the garden. The garden and the house became one.
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.
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.
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.