All Nature is But Art

The Popcorn Gallery, Glen Echo Park, Maryland
April 6–28, 2019

In the early nineteenth century, the intrepid English author Frances Trollope embarked on a multiyear journey around the United States. Her travels took her from New Orleans to Niagara Falls. The spring of 1830 found her staying at Stonington, a farm not far from Glen Echo and close to the C&O Canal, which she observed under construction.

Trollope described the area as having “scenery that can hardly be called forest, park, or garden; but which partakes of all three.” She continued, “We had not been long within reach of the Great Falls of the Potomac before a party was made for us to visit them … cedars, tulip-trees, planes, sumacs, junipers, and oaks of various kinds, most of them new to us, shaded our path. Wild vines, with their rich expansive leaves, and their sweet blossom, rivaling the mignonette in fragrance, clustered round their branches. Strawberries in full bloom, violets, anemones, heart’s-ease, and wild pinks, with many other, and still lovelier flowers, which my ignorance forbids me to name, literally covered the ground. The arbor judae [redbuds], the dogwood, in its fullest glory of star-like flowers, azaleas, and wild roses, dazzled our eyes whichever way we turned them … It was the most flowery two miles I ever walked.”

Her advice to travelers was to “let no one visit America without having first studied botany.”

With the current renewed interest in native flora among ecologically minded gardeners, the Botanical Art Society of the National Capital Region presents an exhibit showcasing the kinds of plants that Frances Trollope might have encountered on her journey around the young United States.

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