Who was J. Horace McFarland?

Painted portrait of J. Horace McFarland, wearing wireframe glasses, a red tie, and a dark grey suit with a rose pinned to the lapel. A bookcase sits in the background.

(John) Horace McFarland (1859-1948) was a very influential man in American horticulture and nature conservation whose impact is widely forgotten today. His influence is seen through the many roles he fulfilled:

  • Master printer
  • Horticulturalist
  • Civic leader
  • Conservationist
  • Rosarian
  • Writer
  • Photographer

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, McFarland established a successful printing business, influenced horticulture, and campaigned for environmental causes. Establishing a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania printing company that specialized in horticultural trade publications, he further developed the use of photography and color printing in nursery and seed trade catalogs, turned the grounds of his home into an experimental garden, and corresponded with presidents and other influential leaders, particularly in his work as a conservationist.