Summoning Spring: Transporting Ourselves to Warmer Weather through the Records of Anne Bruce Haldeman

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Notes: The garden has been designed to create a picture as well as to provide a place for cutting. The outer borders form a frame work of perennials, whereas the inner beds (after the tulip display) are intended for annuals, so planned as to give color and flowers for cutting throughout the season.

Fill in spaces in edging with seed of Alyssum Carpet-of-Snow (1 oz) &  A. Lilac Queen (1/4 oz.) mixed & sown in shallow drills. In late fall or early spring sow seed of Nemophile just behind edging plants, with Shirley poppies. In outer borders, seed annual poppies (somnif.) single shell pink & peony-flowered, may be scattered among Iris for late bloom. Miniature, pom-pom, & single sahlia tubers should be planted as early as possible in spaces left by spring-blooming perennials. Place canary & pink snapdragons behind Nepeta. Plant Aquilegia & Chinese Delphinium thru-out borders: also Salvia farinacea & pitcheri for effect with asters & chrysanthemums.

 List of annuals:

Antirrhinum - pink & pale yellow     Chrysanthemum - Morning Star               Matricaria capensis

Single-Rainbow Asters                         Escholtzia - Chamois-rose                             Nemophila insignis

Centaurea americana                            Linaria - Fairy bouquet                                 Papaver - shirley mixed sommif. & peony

“ “ cyanus                                                Larkspur - pink, white, & purple                Scabiosa - lavender, pink, white & black 

-Taken from the 1936 drawing of the gardens of  Mrs. Eli Lilly (Sunset Lane, Indianapolis)



"Encountering Twentieth Century Women in The Filson’s Special Collections" Where: The Library at Oxmoor Farm When: March 25 @ 6pm Who: Free for members, $10 for non-members. For more info, go to:

When I complain about the weather people often reply, “But wait. You lived in Chicago...aren’t you used to this!?”

They’re not wrong. In fact, I grew up in an area where the lake-effect dropped 12+ inches of snow several times a month. So yes, by my Midwestern standards this winter was a cakewalk. But in reality? I’m just as ready as the next gal who wishes the ice gone and the green out.

I know I’m not alone in feeling that it’s always the last few weeks of winter that linger on and on, grating on our spring-ready souls. So, in the spirit of spring, let’s talk about flowers. And trees. Oh, And, while we’re at it, women—because March, for those of you not in the know, is Women’s History Month (

In preparation of my and Jennie Cole’s talk titled “Encountering Women in the 20th Century”,  I’ve been reading about landscape architect, Anne Bruce Haldeman. Anne Bruce (1903-1993) was one of Kentucky’s first female landscape architects. She was educated at Cambridge School of Architecture (later incorporated into Harvard University) where she met her future partner, Louise Leeland. Anne Bruce and Louise lived and worked together in Louisville until Louise’s death in 1956. Perhaps most notably known for her restoration work and advocacy with Farmington Historic Plantation (gardens and tool house), Anne Bruce also designed the gardens for My Old Kentucky Home.

The Filson is fortunate to possess some of Anne Bruce’s designs and records, including the aforementioned projects as well as a unique set of index cards that document the firm’s various research, including: landscape (plants, trees, bulbs, etc) and library indexes as well as business contacts. It is from these cards that I hope to provide some springtime vibrations that’ll tide you over until the warmer weather arrives for good (I also recommend Googling the above list of annuals. You won't regret it...).


Bizarre tulips, Darwin tulips, Parrot tulips!

Looking through 'Drawer 1' of Anne Bruce's index cards (Mss. AR H159 38) I was immediately struck by the mix of the scientific and the subjective used to describe the various trees, flowers and shrubbery. For example, part of Anne Bruce's entry for the Cornus Flordia (or, the Flowering Dogwood as it is more commonly known) is described as "the perfect tree" and the Abies Balsamea (Balsam Fir) is "Not first class". She is more straightforward in her description of the Larix Europaea (European Larch) "Long lived and better for dry land".

Another card, this one for the Galanthus nivalis (Common Snowdop), tells us that the flower is "Drooping" and with "three petals, white". The card goes on to tell us that the flower blooms in Late February and March. Did you just read that, folks? FLOWERS. REAL ONES. IN FEBRUARY! Okay, okay. I realize that, as of two weeks ago, we had eight inches of snow on the ground but still! The prospect of early spring flowers is enough to brighten my day--and hopefully yours, too.

Johna Ebling

Johna Ebling is an Associate Curator of Collections and Exhibits Manager. She studied Journalism and English at Ball State University and earned her master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When she isn’t orchestrating an exhibit or engaging in public outreach, Johna is working with the Filson’s architectural holdings. When away from The Filson, Johna enjoys reading, cooking and spending time with her Chihuahua, husband and friends.

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