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Catalog Data

Helen Hornberger  Search this
Copper, oil paint
Overall: 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
Stem: 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
Flower: 7 in. (17.8 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 the Purple Lilac (Syringa vulgaris). A cone-shaped cluster of tiny purple flowers with green receptacles come from a brown branch with spade-shaped leaves on thin green stems.
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.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Purple Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) was designated the official state flower of New Hampshire in 1919. It was considered along with the Apple Blossom, Purple Aster, Wood Lily, Mayflower, Goldenrod, Wild Pasture Rose, Evening Primrose and Buttercup in regard the relative merits of each flower. The Purple Lilac was ultimately the champion because this robust and sturdy plant was reflective of the character of men and women of the “Granite State.” The Purple Lilac is deciduous shrub with dark green heart-shaped leaves. It can grow up to 8 to 10 feet. In the spring clusters of tiny, light purple or lavender flowers bloom and emit one of the most popular fragrances created by a plant. There are over 1,000 varieties of Lilacs in several colors including lavender, white, and pink. Purple Lilacs were imported to the United States in the 1750’s and thrive in New Hampshire’s moist, soggy wooded areas and in acidic soils of pine-oak forests. It is also cultivated in gardens as a hedge or an individual accent plant. The hardy Lilac bush can live for many years and can withstand severely cold winter temperatures. New Hampshire also designated an official state wildflower, the Pink Lady’s Slipper, in 1991. While the durability of the Purple Lilac earned this flower its role as a symbol of the state, the Pink Lady Slipper is listed as a “special concern” under the Native Plant Protection Act. New York also recognizes Lilac as the official state bush.
copper  Search this
tôle  Search this
Artificial flowers  Search this
crafts  Search this
emblems (symbols)  Search this
flowers (plants)  Search this
New Hampshire  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