Thomas Edison, Gardener (and Dahlia)

Thomas Edison, Gardener (and Dahlia) –

Inspired by the deep purple, 1929 dahlia ‘Thomas A. Edison’, our friend Betsy Ginsburg blogged recently about the great inventor’s “strong connection to horticulture.”

Edison and his wife Mina were both nature lovers, she writes, and in 1885 Edison himself sketched out the landscape plan for their new winter home in Florida. It’s an orderly, geometric design with lots of trees and shrubs, broad panels of lawn ringed by flower beds, and a big kitchen garden screened from the house by a hedge of lemons and limes.

Years later Edison’s good friend Henry Ford built a house next door, and in the 1920s the two men joined with tire magnate Harvey Firestone to establish the Edison Botanic Research Corporation on the grounds. Seeking a domestic source for rubber, Edison grew, cross-bred, and tested some 17,000 plants there, eventually developing a goldenrod (Solidago) that yielded almost 12% rubber.

Today the lush grounds of Edison’s Florida home are preserved as part of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates museum. You can learn more about Edison’s landscape at the museum’s website, and read Betsy’s “Edison’s Plants and Plans” at her always interesting blog, The Gardener’s Apprentice.


See Our Dahlias in Martha Stewart Living!

One of our most enthusiastic customers is acclaimed potter Frances Palmer of Connecticut whose distinctive hand-made tableware and vases are regularly featured in national magazines such as House Beautiful, Vogue, and Martha Stewart Living.

It’s not her pottery, though, that’s featured in the May 2014 issue of Living but her beautiful vegetable garden — which, we’re proud to say, includes several of our dahlias. Look closely and you’ll see ‘Wisconsin Red’, ‘Old Gold’, and ‘Madame Stappers’ growing there, and another photo shows ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and ‘Nellie Broomhead’ tucked into a couple of Frances’s tiny vases.

Best of all, though, is this full-page shot with our ‘Deuil du Roi Albert’ and ‘Princesse de Suede’ in a fresh-from-the-garden bouquet.

See more and enjoy the entire article at Frances’s website.


See Our Micro-Farms in Country Gardens!

Boy, are we excited! The summer 2014 issue of Country Gardens features a wonderful article about us and our urban micro-farms.

It starts with this big, gorgeous bouquet of our iris, daylilies, peonies, and Byzantine glads, and other photos show us sitting on our old-house porch (with Toby squirming to get off my lap) and weeding our micro-fields. The text by Anne Raver tells the story of how we’ve turned neglected spaces in our downtown neighborhood into a patchwork farm for heirloom bulbs.

Country Gardens’ editor James Baggett – who lives in a charming early-1900s bungalow in Des Moines – is a long-time supporter of OHG, and we had a lot of fun with him and his crew when they visited us here last year for the photo shoot. (Thanks, James, Karla, and all!)

See all the photos and read the entire article here.