A Royal Botanist #OTD Today is the birthday of the Spanish botanist Martin Sesse who was born on this day in 1751. King Carlos III charged Sesse with identifying, classifying, and illustrating all of the plant species throughout New Spain. This was a tremendous request. But Sesse was the man for the job. He was…

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Emily Dickenson

A Poet and A Gardener #OTD Today is the birthday of Emily Dickenson who was born on this day in 1830. The Dickinson Author Judith Farr, reminds us that during her lifetime, Emily Dickinson was “known more widely as a gardener,… than as a poet.” Emily grew up gardening. She would help her mother with…

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Henry David Thoreau

Writing at Walden Pond #OTD On this day in 1855, it was starting to snow on Walden Pond, and Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal: “At 8.30 a fine snow begins to fall, increasing very gradually, perfectly straight down, till in fifteen minutes the ground is white, the smooth places first, and thus the…

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The Spy, Politician, Diplomat, and Gardener #OTD Today is the birthday of Peter Smithers, who was born on this day in 1913. Sir Peter Smithers, was a British politician and diplomat, but also an award-winning gardener. He worked as a British spy during World War II. Smithers was said to have inspired the fictional character…

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Johann Gottfried Zinn

Initial Anatomy of the Iris #OTD Today is the birthday of Johann Gottfried Zinn, who was born on this day in 1727. Zinn died at the age of 32, but he accomplished much in his short life, and he focused on two areas of science: human anatomy and botany. From an anatomy standpoint, in his…

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François-Andre Michaux

First Glance of a River Plant #OTD On this day in 1788, Andre Michaux made his way from Georgia into South Carolina by crossing the Tugalo River. In his journal, Michaux wrote: “At dawn, I went to look at the banks of the river and I recognized the yellow root, [a new species of rhododendron],…

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Squash to Spoon #OTD On this day in 1492, Christopher Columbus noted in his diary: “I climbed a mountain and came to level ground, which was sown with many different crops and with gourds.” The gourds Columbus was referring to were squashes that were used for more than food. After the skin had been cleaned…

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The Roanoke Astronomer #OTD On this Day in 1586, Sir Thomas Herriot introduced Colombian potatoes to England. Over fifty years earlier, the Spanish had been the first to discover potatoes – but Herriot’s potatoes were the first to reach England. Harriot had spent time in Sir Walter Raleigh’s English colony on Roanoke Island in modern-day…

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Founder of the Linnean Society #OTD Today is the birthday of James Edward Smith, who was born on this day in 1759. In 1784, on the recommendation of Joseph Banks, Smith purchased the entire collection of Carl Linnaeus. When the King of Sweden learned of the purchase, he attempted to intercept the ship before it…

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Christopher Columbus

Cancelling Classical Education #OTD Today is the birthday of the German theologian and educator, Johann Julius Hecker, who was born on this day in 1707. Hecker recognized that a classical education didn’t work for everyone, and so he founded secondary schools that prepared students for practical jobs and callings. Hecker referred to his schools as,…

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Chronobiology for the Circadian Clock #OTD   Today is the birthday of Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan, who was born on this day in 1678.  Mairan was a French chronobiologist – a job one rarely hears about these days. In 1729, da Mairan put together an experiment showing the existence of a circadian rhythm in plants. Essentially,…

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Henry Winthrop Sargent

American Royalty #OTD   Today is the birthday of Henry Winthrop Sargent, who was born on this day in 1810. Henry Winthrop was born into American royalty. The Sargent family was fabulously wealthy, and Henry’s dad was the Boston artist Henry Sargent. Like most of the men in his family, Henry Winthrop went to Harvard, where…

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Francisco de Paula Marín

Hawaii’s Original Farmer #OTD  Today is the birthday of the Spanish adventurer and botanist known as Hawaii’s Original Farmer, Francisco de Paula Marín, who was born on this day in 1774. By the time Marin was in his early twenties, he had already made his way to Honolulu, Hawaii. It would be his home for…

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Leonard Sidney Woolf

Garden Designer of the Monks House #OTD   Today is the birthday of the man who designed Monks House garden Leonard Sidney Woolf who was born on this day in 1880. Woolf was the husband of Virginia Woolf. Leonard was the primary gardener and garden designer of Monks House – although Virginia helped him. Virginia and…

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