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Albert Francis Blakeslee, Ph. D.


Albert Francis Blakeslee, Ph.D. - 1874 - 1954
Albert Francis Blakeslee, Ph. D.
Photo courtesy: Oxford Journal, Oxford University Press
One of the close friends of RSW was Dr. Blakeslee, a Smith College professor of botany and genetics. I do not know how their relationship came about but it was probably through another close friend, Ethel Dow, who was a Smith graduate. Dr. Blakeslee came up to the Buckland studio often on weekends to go on excursions with RSW, Ethel Dow and another woman named Sally Vanderbuilt, all of them interested in collecting and identifying wildflowers, wild mushrooms and the native trees and shrubs. At the same time RSW would have with him a sketchbook, and we would often stop along the way for him to make a brief sketch of what would eventually turn into an oil painting or a chalk drawing.

1936 12-cylinder Packard
1936 12-cylinder Packard
Our excursions traveled over the back roads of the county, most of them dirt roads, going along at about 5 miles per hour. Dr. Blakslee would spot a black-eyed susan in a field and shout out "stop the car young man." He would hop out the rear door like a teenager, and trot out through the field to the particular black-eyed susan he had seen. He would take out of small envelope from his pocket and a brush of some sort and brush pollen off the flower into the envelope to take back to Smith College. This would become a part of his research into genetically doubling the chomosomes in the future generations of the plant.

The Gloriosa Daisy, still flowering at the former Southwick studio, developed by Dr. Blakeslee
Gloriosa Daisies developed by
Dr. Blakeslee, are still flowering
at the former Southwick studio
The Gloriosa Daisy
The Gloriosa Daisy
At this period in his life he was suffering from terminal prostate cancer and I can remember him remarking, "I can't die now, I have too much work to do." He did eventually finish his work which resulted in the Gloriosa Daisy. The patent was then sold to the Burpee Company and Mr. Burpee mass produced the new flower. It became world famous and can be seen today in practically every flower garden in the country and the seeds sold by all seed companies.

The Gloriosa Daisy
Please check out the following websites: Blakesley Greenhouse at Smith College

See page 7 about "Remembering Albert Blakesley" from Botanic Garden News

See page 8 "Sophie Satin and Genetics at Smith College" from Botanic Garden News

TREES IN WINTER by Albert Francis Blakeslee, Ph, D
TREES IN WINTER by Albert Francis Blakeslee, Ph. D.
TREES IN WINTER inscription
Book TREES IN WINTER signed by Dr. Blakeslee
I hope Mark and Barbara get one tenth as much inspiration
from this book as did their friend the author
who wishes them happy hunting in the out-of-doors.
(signed) A. F. Blakeslee

ADDENDUM: Dr. Blakeslee

During my years of study at the Tufts Medical School in Boston and Barbara's years of working as reference librarian at Simmons College, we spent many of our free hours at the Arnold Arboretum, studying the trees and shrubs planted there. During those years we were able to identify almost any tree which grew in New England just from a branch, bud, bark or leaf. Our reference book for learning the trees in winter was written by Dr. Albert Blakeslee, a Smith College botany professor, whom I had met during my years of working for Robert Strong Woodward. During his early years he had written the textbook "Trees in Winter." After we were married he presented a copy of this book to us with the inscription above. Over the many years since then a great many of the tree names and details of their classification have been lost to the decay of synapses, but nevertheless we still love this book and refer to it frequently. We respect and owe so much to this beloved little "gotee'd" Smith College professor. We thank him and honor him for his great contribution to our lives.

Mark and Barbara Purinton


New York Times article about The Gloriosa Daisy, July 21, 1988
New York Times article about the Gloriosa Daisy, July 21, 1988