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Grant Groves Collection on Mulford B. Foster Collection

Identifier: SC-103

Scope and Contents

Series I: Personal Files, Circa 1920's-1979, Undated, includes three pages of blueprints of a house Mulford and Racine Foster built in the late 1950's in Orange County, Florida on a 12 acres of land close to Lake Apopka. The house also known as "Bromel - La" had two greenhouses used to hybrid bromeliads during the twenty years that they owned the land; correspondence between June F. Fry & Bernard N. and Mulford & Racine Foster regarding to fulfill the orders before the freeze. Another letter describes June's doctors and hospital visits in regard to her infections in sinuses and throat. On another occasion, June talks about selling her house and moving from Maryland to California; news clippings from Elmer News where Mulford's father, Samuel P. Foster, contributed articles on a weekly basis; brief plant notes for Tillandsia Dasylirifolia, Tillandsia Grandis, and Tillandsia Butzii; a book called "Catalogue, 3rd International Exhibition of Botanical Art & Illustration, 12 November 1972 to 30 March 1973" contains Mulford Foster's short biography and a painting "Bromelia balansae"; a little booklet called "Color Mediums" published by Talens & Sons, Ltd., provides information on artists' oil colours and identifies most durable binding materials; and two "Royal Portraits & Testimony" blue folders which lacks materials inside.

Series II: Arts, 1935-1966, Undated, Mulford B. Foster created various art pieces over the course of his long career as a botanist including black and white sketches, miniature canvas art pieces, christmas card designs, color sketches, oil paintings (framed) and (unframed), and portfolio folders. Collection also includes portable three-panel wood folding screen hand painted by Mulford B. Foster. The large screen is made of solid wood with walnut-color finish with floral design on each panel.

Series III: Photographs, 1946-1970, Undated, Mulford B. Foster and other members of the Bromeliad Society gathered during a banquet on June 6, 1970 in Los Angeles, California to celebrate the 20th year of the Bromeliad Society and took pictures to document the event. Series also includes several notable photographs such as Bert Foster's house during the Christmas 1958; Mulford B. Foster discovers "Dyckia Fosteriana" in habitat rocky ledge of Brazil in 1939 on his stops around South America; Foster's visit to Putumayo, Colombia documenting various plants "Welfia regia – Wendly", "Bellarista", "Wettinia aff. Maynensis", and "Attalea funifera—Mart"; and three slides taken by Oather Van Hyning during Pineapple dinner at Bromel - La in 1970 together with Althea Van Hyning, Julian Nally, Maggie Nally, Mulford B. Foster, and Racine Foster. Also significant is a collection of photographs of upper class society homes in Florida during the 19th and 20th century. Both small and large photographic images have not been identified. Images are documenting architectural interior and exterior designs of various homes including landscape, gardens, front and rear entrance, interior furnishing, patio fountain, pool, porch, living room, and library room. A few photographs are hand-colored by Mulford B. Foster.


  • Created: Circa 1920's-1979


Conditions Governing Access

The entire collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical or Historical Information

Mulford Bateman Foster, "the father of Bromeliads", was born on December 25, 1888 in Elmer, New Jersey. His interest in botany began at early ages by exploring wild plants in New Jersey. With the help of his mother, Fannie Bateman, he set up his first garden around the family home. In 1905, he graduated from Elmer High School and attended Philadelphia business school. Upon graduation in 1910, he started working as an Associate Editor for Elmer Times. In the early 1920's Foster moved from New Jersey to Florida to work as a landscape architect. He got married to Racine Foster who was also interested in tropical plants and traveled multiple times to Brazil with him in search of rare plants. Following years, he established his own business called the Tropical Arts Nursery. Mr. Foster considered to be Orlando's first landscape architect. As a naturalist explorer, botanist, hybridizer, and plant collector, he traveled most of the United States, as well as other countries in the Americas and discovered over two hundred new species such as cacti, palms, aroids, amaryllis, and bromeliads.

Mulford wrote a book called "Brazil - Orchid of the Tropics" and account his plant-collecting travels in Brazil. He also published articles in the Journal of the Bromeliad Society, the Smithsonian Annual Report, and the National Geographic Magazine. He was also heavily involved in the International Bromeliad Society edited bi-monthly bulletin for twelve years. He received the Herbert Medal for work in promoting amaryllis in 1951. He also received the Reasoner Trophy for outstanding contributions to the ornamental horticulture industry. He was a great artist worked mainly in oil paintings. His work has been exhibited in Orlando, Miami, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. He passed away at the age of 89 at his house on Lakeville Road in northwest Orange County, Florida on August 28, 1978. His home was surrounded over four hundred varieties of rare plants which includes the largest collection of living bromeliads in the world.


2.50 Linear Feet (4 Boxes, 1 Flat File)


Grant Groves, owner of Color Zone Tropicals, Inc. in Winter Garden Florida, collected materials on Mulford B. Foster. He was a botanist, horticulturist, and a lifelong naturalist, also known as "Father of the Bromeliad", born in 1888 in Elmer, New Jersey and passed away at the age of 89 in Orange County, Florida. Collection includes Foster's black & white sketches, color drawings, oil paintings, three-fold screen art work, news clippings, publications, photographs, slides, negatives, correspondence, and blueprints of Foster's house called "Bromel - La."

Arrangement Note

Collection is arranged in three parts: Personal files, arts, and photographs:

Method of Acquisition

Grant Groves donated these materials to the University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives in 2016 (CFM2016_07). Additional Materials were donated in 2018 (CFM2018_04).

Processing Information

Processed by Suphi Burak Ogreten; finding aid prepared by Suphi Burak Ogreten.
Grant Groves Collection on Mulford B. Foster Collection
Suphi Burak Ogreten
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the UCF Special Collections Repository

Special Collections & University Archives
University of Central Florida Libraries
P.O. Box 162666
Orlando Florida 32816-2666 US
(407) 823-2576