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Re: Glass Flowers

Libby, you didn't specifically say, but sounds like they were perfectly to
scale as well as details.  I can't imagine what a project like that must
have cost, even in those days. And glass, yet - just transporting or even
storing these pieces must have been a challenge.  What a delight; you were
very fortunate to have had this opportunity.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Libby Valentine" <L_Valentine@adelphia.net>
To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2003 9:56 AM
Subject: [CHAT] Glass Flowers

> 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
> of Ansel Adams but in the mountains,  pictures in the exhibition from
> 1929-1978), and the glass flower collection.  The photographs were
> I didn't know anything about the glass flower collection until I happened
> 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
> from 1887 through 1936 by a father and son team of glassmakers near
> Germany.  Not quite all of the models are on display, but I understand
> 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
> labels had the botanical name (but I'm not sure as of when!) and then 1 to
> 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
> to a couple small cactus in flower - picture one of those, a 6" high
> 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
> 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
> of cuttings.  I found the dahlia interesting because the flower was not
> complex and impressive bloom available today, it was a single flower with
> small number of wide petals.  I am not familiar with all the history
> 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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