American Gardens blooming on 10 new U.S. forever stamps
By Michael Baadke
The United States Postal Service will issue 10 stamps on May 13 to celebrate botanic, country estate and municipal gardens in 10 different states.
The nondenominated (55¢) forever stamps will be sold in panes of 20 bordered in dark green. The name of the issue, “American Gardens,” appears in white dropout lettering across the top of the pane.
The stamps are boxy horizontal commemoratives measuring 1.56 inches across and 1.225 inches tall. Each stamp shows a scene from one of the featured gardens, with the name of the garden printed in small capital letters in the lower left stamp margin.
The vignettes are photographs of areas within the gardens taken between 1996 and 2014 by Allen Rokach. USPS art director Ethel Kessler designed the issue.
The scenes are from Brooklyn Botanic Garden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens (Akron, Ohio), Dumbarton Oaks Garden (Washington, D.C.), Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (Boothbay, Maine), Chicago Botanic Garden (Glencoe, Ill.), Winterthur Garden (Winterthur, Del.), Biltmore Estate Gardens (Asheville, N.C.), Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park (Tallahassee, Fla.), the Huntington Botanical Gardens (San Marino, Calif.), and Norfolk Botanical Garden (Norfolk, Va.).
The Winterthur Garden was originally designated to host the first-day ceremony for the American Gardens issue, but like many of gardens featured on the new issue, the Winterthur Garden is currently closed because of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, and the planned ceremony has been canceled. The Postal Service might reschedule a dedication ceremony at a later date, but the stamps will be issued at post offices as planned, providing a glimpse of those gardens that visitors might not be able to access today.
The new American Gardens set is the fifth U.S. stamp issue in three months to encompass a floral theme.
Ten different Wild Orchids forever stamps were issued in coils and double-sided booklets on Feb. 21. A Contemporary Boutonniere forever stamp and a Garden Corsage (70¢) 2-ounce rate stamp were both issued April 2, and a Chrysanthemum ($1.20) global forever stamp was issued April 24.
“The love of gardening stretches back to the earliest years of our country, inspiring George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers to plant some of America’s most iconic colonial-era gardens,” according to the Postal Service. “From the 19th century to today, landscape designers have continued that tradition.”
The American Public Gardens Association defines a public garden as “an institution that maintains collections of plants for the purposes of public education and enjoyment, in addition to research, conservation, and higher learning.” Such gardens are open to the public with resources available to all visitors.
Some gardens charge admission fees that are often reduced or waived for contributing members.
In 1999 the Postal Service issued a 33¢ stamp (Scott 3338) to commemorate prominent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), whose most famous project was Central Park in New York City.
Olmsted’s final great landscape design was on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, featured on one of the new American Gardens stamps. Among his many projects there, Olmsted designed “hundreds of acres of gardens, terraces, paths, water features, and a conservatory,” Jon Elliston wrote for WNC magazine, which focuses on the western North Carolina region, in 2017.
The John Singer Sargent portrait of Olmsted that appears on the 1999 stamp is displayed at Biltmore House.
The Postal Service is offering two sets of 10 American Gardens first-day covers with two different Winterthur, Del., pictorial first-day cancels.
The black cancel depicts a single tulip bloom, and the showier color postmark is illustrated with tulips, a black-eyed Susan, dogwood blossoms and additional greenery.
The cover sets and full panes of the new stamps can be ordered from the Postal Service’s online retail site. The stamps are also offered at local post offices in full unbroken panes only.
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