Years ago I holidayed in New England, pregnant with the son who turned eighteen last New Year’s Eve, an event which in part triggered the creation of this blog.
And this summer we returned, with son and daughter in tow, conscious that this may well be our last family holiday.
The first week was spent in Boston where I felt quite seriously devoid of floral life. There were however, some incredible ‘faux’ flora to entertain me. Firstly those at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. The museum has an extraordinary collection of glass flowers (including the Penstemon above) made by German father and son Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, who were commissioned to produce the incredibly detailed and accurate flowers for use in teaching botany at the university.
The blooms were made by softening the glass – initially painted and later the glass itself was coloured – and then blowing or shaping it, often relying on wire supports for structure. As well as creating the blooms they often created magnified models of plant parts:
There are over 3,000 models representing 830 plant species, and whilst some were a little dusty and uninspiring, the vast majority were perfectly astonishing. I find it hard to fathom the expertise required to create accurate botanical drawings, but the idea of creating these models in 3D is just extraordinary – particularly bearing in mind the commission began in 1886.
Keeping with the glass theme, the Museum of Fine Art had a magnificent sculpture by American artist Dale Chihuly. I remember when he exhibited in both the V&A and also Kew Gardens and think he is an amazing innovator.
See ‘Lime Green Icicle Tower’ below, admittedly not very flowery, but you’ve got to admire the scale!
With regard to real blooms, the only garden I managed to visit in Boston itself was the Boston Public Garden, where the planting was, whilst not really to my taste, certainly striking.
I’m still in New England as I post this (Rockport MA actually), so if any of of my US readers have any suggestions for gardens to visit in the area I’d be delighted to hear from you.