Western Front

wwi-british-trench-nationaal-archief-on-flickrOfficial photo of the recent English progress at the Western Front. A well hidden trench,” between 1914 and 1918, via Nationaal Archief (of the Netherlands) Commons on flickr.

It occurred to me that some, or a lot, of the wattle could have been woven by men who were gardeners before the war.

WWI trenches were not actually straight, but zigzagged to prevent enemy soldiers from firing down the axis. They were normally about 4 m. (12′) deep.

Verdun, France

Verdun grave, university of caen, flickrSoldiers’ graves in the region of Verdun, France, ca. 1914 to ca. 1918, photographer unknown, via Université de Caen Normandie Commons on flickr.

“A gravesite decorated and trellised by the soldiers of the X. . . regiment of infantry.”

The photo is one of over 1,800 donated to the archives of Seine-Maritime in Rouen and the Université de Caen by the founder of Lafond Printing in Rouen. The sepia photographs have been digitized in their original condition: glued on bristol board with handwritten captions identifying places and scenes. Most of the pictures concern World War I.

You can click on the image to enlarge it.

Vintage landscape: Lob’s Wood

Lob's Wood, Ohio, ca. 1920, via Library of Congress“‘Lob’s Wood,’ . . . Perintown (Milford), Ohio. Woodland daffodils,” ca. 1920, a hand-colored lantern slide by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The 97-acre property pictured above was purchased in 1898 by Carl H. Krippendorf, a Cincinnati businessman who had spent childhood summers in the surrounding area.  He wanted to save the woodland from being turned into a tobacco field.

Krippendorf soon built a house there for his new wife, Mary Greene, and began planting daffodils and other bulbs. They originally called the land Karlsruhe, meaning “Karl’s place of peace” in German. After World War I, the name was changed to Lob’s Wood.  

In 1919, during “Daffodil Days at the Krippendorf Farm at Perintown,” $2,700* was raised for war-devastated France. In one afternoon, they sold 15,000 cut daffodils.

Carl became a friend and correspondent of the garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence.  She wrote about his garden in The Little Bulbs and Lob’s Wood.

 The Krippendorfs lived on the property (eventually 175 acres) for 64 years.  Today the house and woods are part of the Cincinnati Nature Center.

What explains poetry is that life is hard
But better than the alternatives,
The no and the nothing. Look at this light
And color, a splash of brilliant yellow

Punctuating an emerald text. . .

Alicia Ostriker, from “Daffodils

*about $34,000 today.

Vintage landscape: repurposed

Formal victory garden, ca. 1918, Library of Congress

World War I victory garden in a formal setting, location unknown,* ca. 1917 – ca. 1920, by Harris & Ewing, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The photo seems to have been taken for the National War Garden Commission, also known as the National Emergency Food Garden Commission.

The organization was created in early 1917 by Charles Lathrop Pack.  It sponsored a campaign of pamphlets, posters, and press releases aimed at “arous[ing] the patriots of America to the importance of putting all idle land to work, to teach them how to do it, and to educate them to conserve by canning and drying all food that they could not use while fresh.”

Like it or not, what you do with the land around your house tells the world what sort of citizen you are.

Abby Adams, The Gardener’s Gripe Book

*Harris & Ewing was located in Washington, D.C.