April 4, 2022 Dorothea Lynde Dix, Maya Angelou, James A. Duke, Bucharest Botanical Garden, The Graphic Garden by Keith Williams, and Charles Joseph Sauriol


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Historical Events

1802 Birth of Dorothea Lynde Dix, Boston activist, writer, and schoolteacher. 

As a young woman, she visited England and met the philanthropist and mental-health reformer Samuel Tuke, the director of the York Retreat. There, the patients tended the flower and vegetable gardens surrounding the buildings. Samual called his methods "moral treatment," His work inspired Dorothea to pursue new ways of treating mental illness back home in America.

Dorothea championed the causes of the marginalized, incredibly the mentally ill. She successfully lobbied for the creation of mental asylums. Despite today's negative connotations, the word asylum was initially intended to be a place of safety and refuge. Dorothea's asylums were a complete departure from the punitive madhouses that had come before.

Today, the Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh stands on the site of North Carolina's first mental health facility, Dorothea Dix Hospital, which existed for 160 years. Before that, the land was part of the Spring Hill Plantation, which was worked by hundreds of enslaved people for 150 years. Dorothea Dix Park is known for daffodils in spring and a field of sunflowers at the end of July.

Dorothea Dix often included flower petals in letters to her friends. In 1829, she wrote a book of Floriography ("FLOOR-EE-ah-grah-FEE") or the language of flowers called The Garland of Flora. Dorothea wrote,

The rose is the flower and handmaiden of love – the lily, her fair associate, is the emblem of beauty and purity. 


1928 Birth of Maya Angelou (books by this author), American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist.

Maya once wrote,

On late evenings when
quiet inhabits my garden
when grass sleeps and
streets are only paths for silent mist
I seem to remember


1929 Birth of James A. Duke (books about this person), American botanist and writer. He's remembered for his Handbook of Medicinal Herbs and the best-selling book The Green Pharmacy (1997). He developed Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases at the USDA. 

James once quipped regarding dandelions:

If you can't beat them, eat them.


1944 On this day, English and American bombs hit the Botanical Garden in Bucharest. The garden's herbarium lost 500,000 sheets of specimens - roughly two-thirds of their collection.

The origins of the garden date back to 1874. The garden found a champion in a 28-year-old Romanian botanist and naturalist named Dimitrie Brandza. Today the garden is named in his honor.

Dimitri came to Bucharest to be a professor at the Department of Natural Science at the University of Bucharest. He created the botany department at the Natural Science Museum, only to see his entire plant collection destroyed by a fire two years later in 1884. But the fire ignited a new passion for Dimitri, which was the creation of the botanical garden, which opened in 1891.

The garden's 42 acres are home to a museum, a greenhouse, formal gardens, wild spaces, lakes, ponds, and research buildings. The garden is a living part of the biology department at the University of Bucharest.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

The Graphic Garden by Keith Williams

This very, very green-covered book came out in May of 2020, and it's the first monograph from landscape architect Keith Williams.

This book features all of Keith's projects to date.

Now Keith is one of the country's leading landscape architects. Keith is a partner, along with Mario Nievera, in their design firm called Nievera Williams Design, a genuinely groundbreaking landscape architecture firm Is based in South Florida. Together, Mario and Keith have been designing fantastic outdoor spaces for over two decades.

One of the wonderful things about this particular book is that Keith shares with us the transformations and pictures of his gardens, showcasing his work process from the beginning of the project all the way through to the end. In this way, you can see how he looks at spaces and incorporates different elements into these monumental design projects.

And there's a reason he calls it the Graphic Garden, and that's because it's so visual. Keith is very generously sharing everything— all the pictures, all of the drawings, and the details regarding his approach to designing gardens. So if you are a garden designer, this book is a must because you will learn from a true expert in garden design.

Now I have to say that when I first got this book, I was so blown away. It was way more than I anticipated. The level of detail is fantastic. You will learn about layering in gardens and how each layer contributes to the garden's overall design.

And the other thing that I want to mention quickly is that I shared a great video of Keith and his partner, Mario, in a video with Steele Marcoux of Veranda, and they're talking about garden design, their unique perspectives, and their approach to it, which is just so fascinating. I learned a ton of little tips and views on garden design just from watching that particular video. So that's in the Facebook group for the show.

But this book is a little gem — and since it's new and there weren't that many of them published — it is an investment, but it is so worth it.

This book is 216 pages of the best of Keith Williams and his work in gardens.

You can get a copy of The Graphic Garden by Keith Williams and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for around $70.


Botanic Spark

1938 On this day, the Canadian Naturalist Charles Joseph Sauriol, wrote in his diary:

For a few minutes this morning I fumbled around my Wild Flower garden...
Little points which will soon be Bloodroots.
Cautious little down covered stems and buds that will later become Hepaticas.
Narrow leaves the forerunners of spring beauty.


Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener

And remember: For a happy, healthy life, garden every day.

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