Sunday night, The New York Botanical Garden got a brief mention on AMC‘s hit TV show ‘Mad Men.’ The episode–full of more twists and turns than the Floral Flyer‘s route–was set in 1966. This got us to thinking: What was the Garden like in 1966? We did a little research and learned that in 1966 (on April 19, three-days from today!), the Stone Mill–then known as the Lorillard Snuff Mill–was designated a New York City landmark. But we couldn’t find more, so we turned to the archivists of the Garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library, who, in surprisingly short time, uncovered a treasure trove of images that look as if they had been stills pulled from un-aired scenes of this dark and addicting drama.
Off on a side table, just inside one of the treated glass superstructures of the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections, there stands a spray of stems headed with humble, star-shaped flowers. The aesthetic is nothing wildly exotic–a deep crimson defines the petals. The plant is otherwise unremarkable next to a common garden petunia. And yet the “DO NOT TOUCH” sign hand-written and jabbed in alongside the plant is evidence of its peculiar value. Is it fragile, or perhaps toxic?
Neither in particular. This plant, Petunia exserta, is one of incredible rarity.