For over 25 years, the GCA has partnered with the Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens to preserve the visual record and collective narrative of gardens. Our collection is searchable through the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archive (SOVA)
Midwest Gardens Go to Washington
Hattie and Ted Purtell’s garden is a slice of heaven. Grass and Lannon stone pathways wind their way through lush flower beds filled with a wide variety of plants that surround her home. "Good soil is the foundation of your garden". A quote from Hattie, "It’s the foundation of everything that grows and the foundation for getting healthier vegetables from the garden that nourish the flora in our digestive tracts. It’s one big cycle."
What do Julia Child's copper pans, Jacqueline Kennedy’s couture gowns, the Hope diamond and documentation of American Gardens have in common? This is not a Trivial Pursuit quiz. These disparate treasures all reside in the nation’s attic, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The Archives of American Gardens is housed within The Smithsonian Institution’s Horticultural Services Division to offer landscapers, historians and garden lovers access to a collection of approximately 60,000 photographs or drawings of historic and contemporary gardens. Because the very nature of gardens is site specific and transitory, the only means to reserve them for future study is through drawings and photographs.
The nucleus of the Archives of American Gardens is a collection of nearly 3,000 hand-colored glass lantern slides dating from the 1920s and 1930s and 30,000 35mm slides donated, along with supporting documentation, by the Garden Club of America in 1992. The Garden Club of America has continued to support this collection through ongoing research and development activities. Individual clubs have continued to expand the collection by documenting contemporary gardens and submitting them for inclusion in the Archives.
Portions of the archives with photographs and documentation are available online at www.siris.si.edu. The collection can be searched by geographic location, name of the garden or specific features in the garden. Examples of searchable garden features are ponds, fountains, fence designs or pergolas. Materials and images not available online can be accessed for research at the Archives by appointment.
Green Tree Garden Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has seven gardens in the Archives starting with Harmondie whose owner was president of the club from 1935-1937 to gardens of current members.
The gardens demonstrate a wide ecological and stylistic range. The historic family farm Lynden is now a renowned sculpture garden and art education center, which is part of the Milwaukee Art Museum. The most recent addition, The Little House in the Big Woods comprises an extensive native prairie, a large vegetable garden and woodland paths sprinkled with whimsical fairyland sculptures to delight both young and old. Two of the gardens are nestled in wooded lots bordered by the Milwaukee River. Both of these also include extensive vegetable gardens. "Afterglow Farm" overlooks Lake Michigan and includes an enclosed perennial garden as well as acres of native prairie. The owners of another garden, The Chimneys, have devoted years to developing an extensive arboretum. This garden includes fifty varieties of maple trees thoughtfully placed among the collection of native, European and Asian trees and shrubs framing the vistas and water features.
The photographing and documentation of gardens for inclusion in the Archives of American Gardens is a vital activity of the Green Tree Garden Club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and an ongoing project of The Garden Club of America. Respectfully submitted, Kathleen Asmuth & Kathy Palmer
After Glow Farm
Kelton Farm, Saukville
August, 2018 GTGC field trip to Kelton Farm. Spectacular gardens and amazing hospitality!! Thanks to Rosie Lyons for organizing!