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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One Week Left to Celebrate National Rose Month

June is National Rose Month! In honor of this striking flower, I did a little research on some of the glass lantern slides in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens’ J. Horace McFarland Collection, a collection mentioned in this blog back in April. McFarland was known for his expertise in all things roses and examples from his extensive photographic archives are displayed here. This image of a child carrying a basket of roses is from Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Connecticut – the oldest municipal rose garden in the United States.

Elizabeth Park, Hartford, Connecticut
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens,
J. Horace McFarland Company Collection

In the early decades of the twentieth century, before color film became readily available, photographers generated glass negatives with a light-sensitive emulsion. Many of these glass lantern slides were hand painted by specialists who may have never seen the roses they were bringing to life (check out the Syracuse University Archives' site for more on the history of glass lantern slides).

Rose aficionados can’t help but notice some of the impossibly bright hues that the studio painters selected for these images from the McFarland Collection. Enlarged versions of these and other rose images can be seen in a Smithsonian Gardens outdoor exhibit entitled J. Horace McFarland: Mr. Rose. McFarland was certainly “Mr. Rose,” as two roses have been named in his honor: Editor McFarland (1931) and Horace McFarland (1944). He was also the president of the American Rose Society from 1930-1932. This exhibit is located in the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden in front of the Arts and Industries Building. The beautiful roses in the Folger Rose Garden will provide the exhibit with a handsome backdrop all summer.

Carolyn Chesarino, Intern


  1. These are beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I love seeing the reproductions of these images in the SI rose garden. They have an ethereal beauty and almost look alive. I have tried to catch the magical effect of these images there with my own camera, but not successfully so far.