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Re: Glass Flowers


All done in glass? How extraordinary that must have been. One has to
admire the consumate patience, skill and artistry it took to create this
collection. Wish we could have been there too Libby!


---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Libby Valentine" <L_Valentine@adelphia.net>
Reply-To: gardenchat@hort.net
Date:  Sat, 15 Nov 2003 09:56:22 -0500

>I'm on a short project at Harvard University, and I took a long lunch the
>other day and went over to the Harvard Museum of Natural History, with two
>targets in mind: the special exhibit of photographs by Bradford Washburn
>(mountaineer and photographer, I guess he would be considered a contemporary
>of Ansel Adams but in the mountains,  pictures in the exhibition from
>1929-1978), and the glass flower collection.  The photographs were stunning.
>I didn't know anything about the glass flower collection until I happened to
>follow a website link to it, but it is incredible.
>
>The flowers were commissioned in 1886 by a professor who wanted to have
>life-like models from which to teach botany all year round.  They were made
>from 1887 through 1936 by a father and son team of glassmakers near Dresden,
>Germany.  Not quite all of the models are on display, but I understand there
>are over 4000 models of about 850 species, including plant specimen models
>and then various enlarged flower and plant parts for study as well.  It's
>amazing.  I cannot imagine the skill and patience required to accomplish
>this - picture a 3 foot section of goldenrod, with all its tiny flowers,
>including multiple flower-heads, stem, leaves.  Some of the models are
>complete with root systems - basically look just like you pulled the plant
>up with most of the roots.  Kitty, I thought of you when I was trying to
>remember some of the specific different plants represented there, since the
>labels had the botanical name (but I'm not sure as of when!) and then 1 to 3
>common names for each model.  I'm afraid I tried to remember too many,
>because now I can't, with any confidence in correctness, remember any.  Oh
>well.
>
>Everything from 7 species of salix to clematis to chickory to venus flytrap
>to a couple small cactus in flower - picture one of those, a 6" high section
>with hundreds of spines and multiple flowers - must have taken weeks to do
>just that one! There were 2 models of foot long maple twigs, showing summer
>and autumn color, probably a dozen leaves on each twig.  All glass.  And
>they look so real - I kept reminding myself I wasn't just looking at a bunch
>of cuttings.  I found the dahlia interesting because the flower was not the
>complex and impressive bloom available today, it was a single flower with a
>small number of wide petals.  I am not familiar with all the history behind
>the cultivation of the dahlia, but I believe some of the fancier varieties
>might well have been developed in the last hundred-plus years, so that
>particular one, and also the clematis, which was very plain, seemed more a
>model from a historical point in time - the rest of the plants and flowers
>known to me appeared to look just like they do today.  They were amazing.
>
>I wished some of you could have been there to share it with!
>
>Libby
>Maryland zone 6
>
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>

--
Pam Evans
Kemp TX/zone 8A



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