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Steichen’s Blue

'Connecticut Yankee' delphinium

Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was one of our most famous photographers: especially known for his black and white photographs of famous people. I was amazed to learn that this man who I imagined dreaming in black and white had a passion for blue – a passion for delphiniums. He cultivated acres of delphiniums at his Connecticut home.

In 1936 when he was Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, then housed in a handsome old brownstone, he curated an exhibit of delphiniums for one week ending on the third of July. He brought in a truckload of delphiniums from his own fields and filled every white gallery in the Museum with delphiniums. Never since has the MoMA devoted an exhibit to a single flower.

Steichen loved delphiniums so much that he exprimented with hybridizing. He knew that one of the problems all gardeners struggled with was the staking necessary for many delphiniums . He was happy when he came up with a smaller delphinium that was sturdy and needed no staking. He named it the ‘Connecticut Yankee’ and gave it to a nursery to propagate and market. I have the ‘Connecticut Yankee’ delphinium in my garden. I think of it as a bit of history and art as well as a lovely flower.

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