Harshbarger, Gretchen, 1906-1989
- Existence: 1906 - 1989
Gretchen Fischer Harshbarger was born on March 22, 1906, in Shenandoah, Iowa, the daughter of Frederick and Helen Field Fischer and niece of Henry Field, founder of the Field Seed Company. For twenty-five years her mother broadcast from her home and was known as the radio "Flower Lady of the Midwest." Gretchen Fischer attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, and graduated in 1928 from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, with a degree in landscape architecture. She received the Sands Memorial Medal for distinguished achievement and the Sampson Fine Arts Prize for Art Appreciation. In 1928 Fischer married H. Clay Harshbarger, who later served as chairman of the Department of Speech and Dramatic Arts at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). They lived in Iowa City and had two sons, Fritz and Karl.
Gretchen Harshbarger was a nationally recognized professional landscape architect, author and photographer. She wrote the McCall's Garden Book (1968) and the Flower Family Album, with her mother, Helen Field, in 1940. She was also the garden editor for Household Magazine and American Homes and president of the Garden Writers' Association of America and the American Hemerocallis Society. Harshbarger received numerous national and local awards for her contributions to horticulture. In Iowa City she is remembered for her leadership in founding Project GREEN (Grow to Reach Environmental Excellence Now), a group devoted to beautifying public spaces. Harshbarger died in Iowa City in 1989.