Strolling Through a World of Flowers

Spring has arrived. While some of us may have an opportunity to carefully step outside and view blossoms in our own neighborhood, others may not. Wherever you are, you can take a virtual stroll among the shoots and blossoms planted among the collections of the Prints & Photographs Division.

Many images of gardens can be found among the photographs made by Frances Benjamin Johnston. In the first decades of the 20th century, Johnston documented gardens and landscapes across the United States. The following three views were captured in California, Michigan, and Virginia. Johnston used selections from her garden images, reproduced as hand-colored lantern slides, to accompany a series of lectures she offered in support of the garden beautiful movement, to promote and preserve thoughtful landscape design in the United States.

"El Cerritto," Edward Larned Ryerson Jr. house, Hot Springs Road, Santa Barbara, California. Valerian along pathway. Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1917. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.16048

“El Cerritto,” Edward Larned Ryerson Jr. house, Hot Springs Road, Santa Barbara, California. Valerian along pathway. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1917. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.16048

"Lake Terrace," John Stoughton Newberry, Jr., house, 99 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. Pergola garden. Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1917. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.16177

“Lake Terrace,” John Stoughton Newberry, Jr., house, 99 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. Pergola garden. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1917. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.16177

"Chatham," Colonel Daniel Bradford Devore house, 120 Chatham Lane, Fredericksburg, Virginia. East flower garden. Photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1927. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.16345

“Chatham,” Colonel Daniel Bradford Devore house, 120 Chatham Lane, Fredericksburg, Virginia. East flower garden. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1927. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.16345

Carol M. Highsmith, whose work photographing the American landscape has been inspired by Johnston, also has many botanical-themed images in the collections, including the two below.

<em>Delicate blossoms of the otherwise prickly claret-cup cactus, spotted on Log Hill Mesa, part of the Uncompahgre Plateau above Ridgway, Colorado.</em> Photo by Carol M. Highsmith. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.37801

Delicate blossoms of the otherwise prickly claret-cup cactus, spotted on Log Hill Mesa, part of the Uncompahgre Plateau above Ridgway, Colorado. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2016. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.37801

<em> Fountain scene at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, one of the premier horticultural display gardens in the United States </em>. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.56914

Fountain scene at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, one of the premier horticultural display gardens in the United States . Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, 2019. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.56914

Images of flowers in the collections are not limited to photographic formats. For those interested in fine prints, the collections include a number of garden or flower-themed ukiyo-e woodcuts.

<em>Horikiri no hanashobu.</em> Woodcut by Ando Hiroshige, 1857. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.02944

Horikiri no hanashobu. Woodcut by Ando Hiroshige, 1857. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.02944

If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of some wildlife. Prints featuring birds and flowers comprised a popular genre of ukiyo-e prints.

<em>Tsubaki ni uguisu</em>. Woodcut by Ando Hiroshige, between 1840 and 1844. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.00508

Tsubaki ni uguisu. Woodcut by Ando Hiroshige, between 1840 and 1844. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.00508

<em>Kobushi ni mimizuku.</em> Between 1870 and 1920. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.02375

Kobushi ni mimizuku. Between 1870 and 1920. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/jpd.02375

These pictures represent a small selection of floral images in the collections, and we hope they will inspire you to do more looking using the links below. Wherever you are, and whatever your circumstances, we hope these images provide some tranquility.

Learn More:

3 Comments

  1. Susan
    April 3, 2020 at 11:28 am

    Thanks for this informative and beautiful post.

  2. hp
    April 3, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Thank you, Melissa, for this thoughtful post. I am very fortunate to experience spring here in D.C. It is gorgeous.

  3. Dakota Gail
    April 4, 2020 at 10:41 am

    The Japanese prints are marvelous. After our recent snow, I need to uncover my hyacinths and draw them. Thanks for the inspiration.

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