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The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lenhardt Library has a wonderful rare book collection, and soon it will be able to share some of those rare gems with the world.  

Selections from The Language of Flowers collections are being digitized and conserved with a new grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and those selections will be uploaded to the Biodiversity Heritage Library. This work will add to the body of knowledge on the subject of language of flowers, at the intersection of art, botany, and poetry.

One of the smaller volumes of The Language of Flowers

Some of the books in The Language of Flowers were much smaller volumes. These particular flower books filled with botanical drawings and love poems were intentionally and charmingly smaller, as the thinking at the time was it would be better to fit into a woman’s hands.

Poem and illustration from Madame de la Tour's Langage des Fleurs

Return of Happiness from The Language of Flowers, The Sentiment of Flowers; or Language of Flora, published in 1837, derived from Madame de la Tour’s Langage des Fleurs

Also being digitized is Garden Talk, the Chicago Horticultural Society’s membership magazine that was published from 1945, 1953-2007. Chicago’s gardening trends and fads, techniques, and ecological strategies were all fodder for editorial content. Once digitized, the columns will be available at the Illinois Digital Archives with new grant funding from the Illinois State Library.

Telegram to the Garden from Lady Bird Johnson.

Garden Talk captured the Garden’s rich history. Here, we see the “official” press release in 1965 announcing the groundbreaking for the new Chicago Botanic Garden. A congratulatory telegram was sent to the Garden from Lady Bird Johnson, the First Lady at the time.

Garden Talk article from 1953

Garden Talk chronicled the many activities of the Chicago Horticultural Society, including, in 1953, a school garden teaching program that reached 50,000 children.

National Endowment for the Humanities (logo)

Note: Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations on this web page do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


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