University of Rochester

EVENT: 'Friendship in Bloom' Exhibit Prepares for Iris Celebration in Rochester

April 13, 2004

Before irises awaken in the garden, the Rare Books and Special Collections Library at the University of Rochester will exhibit irises in books and prints from the Ellwanger and Barry Nursery Library and from its other collections beginning April 15.

"Friendship in Bloom: Four Centuries of Floral Images to Celebrate the Iris Friendship Garden in Highland Park" coincides with the dedication of a special iris garden in Highland Park in collaboration with one of Rochester's Sister Cities, Hamamatsu, Japan. In turn, Hamamatsu is featuring new hybrids of the native American wildflower, the Louisiana iris, that were created especially for Pacific Flora 2004, an international garden and horticulture exposition, and for the public garden in Rochester.

Throughout the spring and summer, the iris theme will be developed at multiple venues in Rochester. At the library exhibition, images of the iris from early texts such as De Materia Medica by Dioscorides, printed in 1550, and The Genus Iris by W. R. Dykes (1913) will be displayed. The Dykes book includes a full-color illustration of the Iris fulva, one of the five recognized species of the Louisiana iris. Melissa Mead, the curator of the exhibition, also has gathered botanical images of other flowers, some of which have never before been on display. Senior Danielle Pappas of Randolph, N.J., is assisting with organizing the exhibit.

The exhibit is designed for gardeners, art lovers, botanists, and anyone anxious to see and read about spring and summer blooms. The display, which is free and open to the public, will be located on the second floor of Rush Rhees Library on the University's River Campus through Sept. 15.

Dozens of the images come from the library's holdings of the collection of George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, Rochester businessmen who ran the largest U.S. nursery in the mid- to late-1800s, said Mead. "Some of these books Ellwanger and Barry purchased for their own reference library; a working nursery had to have them in its collection," she pointed out.

The hours for the "Friendship in Bloom" exhibition are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

A short walk from Rush Rhees Library is the future site of a new iris garden in Bausch & Lomb Riverside Park near the canoe launch and pedestrian bridge to the 19th Ward. A ceremony in June will announce the Ayame Garden, literally "iris garden," and its plantings of Japanese and Louisiana irises.

The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester is preparing an exhibit of botanical prints and paintings from local collector William Pinch from June 18 to Aug. 29 to herald the Iris Friendship Garden, which will be dedicated in June. For information on hours and admission, check the Web at

Other Rochester landmarks, such as the George Eastman House, the Susan B. Anthony House, and the Ellwanger Garden on Mt. Hope Avenue, are creating special displays and programs. The Eastman School of Music's Eastman Wind Ensemble inspired the Hamamatsu/Rochester Sister Cities relationship in music and culture during visits there.

The seed for these collaborations began eight years ago when Edna Claunch, avid gardener, educator, music lover, and member of the Hamamatsu/Rochester Sister Cities Committee, was asked to arrange for a Rochester presence at the Pacific Flora exhibition. On this side of the Pacific, Claunch reached out to local institutions for their expertise and collections to celebrate friendship—and the beauty of flowers—in the coming months. Claunch received her master's and doctoral degrees in education from what is now the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University.

The Iris Friendship Garden, which is located in the original section of Highland Park, was designed by Stuart MacKenzie of Douglas Ian Associates. MacKenzie has done restoration work on several Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks, including Highland Park. The garden demonstrates the accession of a native American wildflower—the Louisiana iris. The collection includes historically significant cultivars that are registered with the American Iris Society. Approximately 1,000 iris rhizomes were donated from all over the world to this unique garden.

For more information on the exhibit in Rush Rhees Library, contact (585) 275-4477.

Note to editors: A few jpg images from the exhibit can be sent to you for limited use. Please call (585) 275-4128 or send your request to