America’s Cornucopia:
A Collector’s View of American Botany and Horticulture

November 14, 2003–February 16, 2004

[Advertising Card] "Everybody likes radishes, don't they Charley," Cambridge, N.Y., 1885.
[Advertising Card] "Everybody likes radishes, don't they Charley," Cambridge, N.Y., 1885.

"Mico Chlucco the Long Warrior or King of the Seminoles,"
"Mico Chlucco the Long Warrior or King of the Seminoles,"
Philadelphia, 1791

The New England Book of Fruits, Salem, 1847
The New England Book of Fruits, Salem, 1847

Beginning November 14, the Garden presents America's Cornucopia, an exhibition of rare books and prints documenting the history of American botany and horticulture.
The books and ephemera selected for this exhibition in The LuEsther T. Mertz Library—culled from a superb collection recently donated to the Garden by David Andrews—vividly depict the history of the exploration, classification, and development of America's botanical and horticultural riches.

The story of our botanical heritage begins with the shift from European interest in the exotic New World to America's study and development of its own cornucopia after the Revolution. The exhibition contains published accounts of the European explorations, as well as early works that show American naturalists and scientists beginning to develop their own publication and collecting networks.

In the early 19th century, the new democracy's strong sense of identity was manifested
in the United States Exploring Expedition and other scientific surveys. The botanical materials returned from these expeditions were organized by American botanists John Torrey and Asa Gray, whose standards for excellence and capacity for deductive analysis forced Europe's scientific elite to acknowledge American scientists as their equals. America's Cornucopia contains a variety of original materials documenting the expeditions and the careers of Torrey, Gray, and other seminal American botanists.

Domestication of the western lands opened a new market for entrepreneurial horticulturists. Nurserymen published "how-to" books to encourage their clients to practice new ideas in plantings and to generate faithful customers. Nursery catalogs evolved from simple seed and plant lists to colorfully illustrated advertising tools that took full advantage of the increasingly sophisticated printing processes. America's Cornucopia contains an array of catalogs, advertisements, and colored plates, as well as a whimsical display of trading cards that depict vegetables as people.

On view in the William D. Rondina and Giovanni Foroni LoFaro Gallery
Daily, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Exhibitions in the Mertz Library are made possible by the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, William D. Rondina and the Carlisle Collection, and
The Kurt Berliner Foundation.

The Garden's LuEsther T. Mertz Library houses one of the world's most important plant science research collections of published and archival documents tracing the development of botany and horticulture from the 12th century to the present. Through exhibitions in the Rondina and LoFaro Gallery, the Garden offers visitors access to some of the most exquisite and rare items in the Mertz Library, which were previously available only for scholarly research.