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Helen Hornberger  Search this
Copper, oil paint
Overall: 9 in. (22.9 cm)
Stem: 5 in. (12.7 cm)
Flower: 4 in. (10.2 cm)
Artificial flowers and trees
United States
Artist, Helen Hornberger, revived the techniques of French tole to create naturalistic representations of the state flowers. The artist used thin copper sheets as her base, and painted them with oil paint in the natural colors of the blossoms and leaves of Apple Blossom (Pyrus coronaria). A cluster of white and pale pink flowers with a dark pink center top the branch. Their green stems are twisted together with the stems of the green, sterrated leaves and painted brown to form the branch. One of the lowest leaves is signed by the artist.
Label Text:
The Congress of Representative Women at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago proposed that each U.S. state and territory select a flower to represent their state in the “National Garland of Flowers.” This resulted in the National Floral Emblem Society. Each state has adopted to represent the state and its people based on their importance to the state’s history, economy, folklore, or native varieties. Tole artist Helen Hornberger created each artificial flower representing each state to create for a bouquet displaying America’s floral diversity.
MICHIGAN: The Apple Blossom (Pyrus coronaria) was designated the official state flower of Michigan in 1897. It was chosen to highlight the state’s connection to apple production. Michigan is one of the top apple producers in the United States. While many varieties of apples are grown in Michigan, legislators selected the Crabapple variety because it is believed to have the most beautiful and fragrant blossoms, as well as being native to the state. The Crabapple Blossoms bloom in April and May in delicate shades of white and pink. The flower clusters of this variety give off honeysuckle-like scent, which attracts bees to orchard. Apple growers often plant Crabapple Blossoms in their orchards for the sole purpose of attracting pollinators. After the bees have pollinated the Apple Blossoms, the fruit begins to grow, and it reaches maturity by late summer. Crabapples are generally used as an ornamental variety or only in preservatives and jellies. Apple orchards flourish in Michigan, due to the lake-influenced weather. When the trees bloom each year, the annual Blossomtime Festival is held to celebrate these beautiful flowers, as well as the harvest of the region’s other fruit crops. Michigan also recognizes a state wildflower. The Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris) was designated the official state wildflower in 1998.
Hornberger on the surface of lowest leaf.
copper  Search this
tôle  Search this
Artificial flowers  Search this
crafts  Search this
emblems (symbols)  Search this
flowers (plants)  Search this
Michigan  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian Gardens, Horticultural Artifacts Collection. Gift of Helen Hornberger.
Accession number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Horticultural Artifacts Collection
Data Source:
Smithsonian Gardens