Phalaenopsis John Hope Franklin
Orchids have been revered by royalty for centuries, collected rabidly by 18th-century enthusiasts and cultivated by those entranced by the flowering plant’s fragrant beauty.
It was in 1959 that orchids first captured the attention of renowned historian Dr. John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, who encountered the plant while teaching in Hawaii. Franklin has since propagated the exotic plants in greenhouses that grew progressively larger along with his personal collection. A small greenhouse held a burgeoning collection in Brooklyn, a rooftop greenhouse became a family project with wife, Aurelia, and son, John W., in Chicago and now, in Durham, N.C., a 17×24-foot greenhouse, complete with a pool, houses Franklin’s flowering plants.
Franklin has been collecting and cultivating orchids for the past 45 years and acquired many of them during his extensive travels to different parts of the world.
But he acquired two significant orchids right here in the United States — in Chicago and in Newberry, S.C.
In 1976, in recognition of the historian’s tremendous contributions to the United States, University of Chicago president John T. Wilson bestowed upon Franklin an orchid hybrid, phalaenopsis John Hope Franklin.
When Franklin lost his namesake orchid in an ice storm, he was presented with a replica. When Franklin lost his wife of 58 years, the South Carolina greenhouse the couple used to frequent named the hybrid phalaenopsis Aurelia Franklin in his wife’s memory.
Franklin counts more than 350 orchids of various sizes, colors, fragrances and rarity among his prized collection.
— By Crystal L. Keels
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