George Ellwanger

Flower City Co-Founder

November 26, 1906 
Today is the anniversary of the death of the German-American horticulturist and nurseryman George Ellwanger ("El-WANG-ur").

In the mid-1800s, George Ellwanger and his Irish business partner and experienced nurseryman, Patrick Barry, claimed their Rochester, New York nursery was the largest in the world. Built on 650 acres along Mount Hope Avenue, George started his business on land that boasted an old pear orchard.

A perpetual seeker, George returned to Europe to hunt for fine trees to propagate in America.

The fruit of George's vision is evident throughout Rochester, but perhaps no more so than in the grand European beeches that dot the city streets and parks. The beeches include several unique species like fern-leaved, copper, purple, and weeping beeches. Today, Rochester has 168 different trees within the city limits, and Charles Sprague Sargent dubbed Rochester the "City in a Forest."

George and Patrick were also known for their fruit trees.

In 1900, Mount Hope Nursery exhibited 118 varieties of pears at the Paris Exhibition, which won them a gold medal diploma.

In 1888, George and Patrick donated 20 acres of their Mount Hope Nursery and hundreds of plants to the City of Rochester, creating beautiful Highland Park. In a Noah's-Ark-like gesture, George and Patrick donated two of every tree specimen in their nursery toward the effort to develop Highland Park.

Twelve years after George died on this day, the Mount Hope Nursery closed for good.

Today, Highland Park is home to an annual Lilac Festival. Visitors stroll the grounds yearly to smell the lilacs, visit Warner Castle, and experience the Sunken Garden.


Here are some words George's oldest son, George Herman Ellwanger, wrote about beech trees in his lovely book called The Garden's Story:

“If we take yellow alone for the color-standard, the beech is without an equal. A beech, indeed, is always beautiful.
Its colors still remain attractive in late November, varying from rich Roman ochre to deep-brown bronze and from pale rose-buff to lustrous, satiny gray.
Its harmony is of marked loveliness in winter, a faded elegance clinging to it like a chastened autumnal memory.”


George Herman clearly shared his father's love of nature.

Here's a clever insight from George Herman Ellwanger regarding mushrooms from his book called The Pleasures of the Table:

"Mushrooms are like men - the bad most closely counterfeit the good."

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George Ellwanger
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  1. Phillip Manning on December 29, 2022 at 11:20 am

    George Ellwanger, the nurseryman that started Ellwanger & Barry Mount Hope Nurseries did not write books on horticulture, gastronomy, and poetry. His son, George Herman Ellwanger was the author on amny of those topics, along with his brother. You are confusing the tow.; the father and son.

    • The Daily Gardener on October 4, 2023 at 9:25 pm

      Hi Phillip.
      Thank you so much for pointing out my error between George and his son George Herman. I have corrected the post to reflect the correct authorship and I so much appreciate you taking the time to let me know about the error.

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