Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon

Chabon’s Writing Shed May 24, 1963 Today is the birthday of the American novelist and short-story writer Michael Chabon (“SHAY-bon”). In 2000, Michael wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. Michael is married to the writer, Ayelet (“eye-YEll-it’”) Waldman, and together they have four children. They…

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Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope

Bridge in Bath, Capability Brown, and Prior Park May 21, 1688 Today is the birthday of the British poet, critic, gardener, and satirist Alexander Pope. Known for his poetry and writing, Alexander Pope is less remembered for his love of gardens. Yet Alexander was a trailblazer in terms of garden design and originality. He designed…

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Eugene O’Neill

Eugene O'Neill

Anna Christie May 21, 1922 On this day, the Pulitzer prize was awarded to Eugene O’Neill for his play “Anna Christie.” Remembered as one of America’s greatest playwrights, most people are unaware that Eugene O’Neill was also a gardener. After becoming a Nobel laureate in literature, Eugene used his Nobel prize money to buy over…

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Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac

The Father of Realism in French Literature May 20, 1799  Today is the birthday of the prolific 19th-century French writer, poet, and the father of Realism in French literature, Honoré de Balzac. Today, the Maison de Balzac, or Honoré’s modest Paris home, has been turned into a museum. With its courtyard and garden, the house…

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Chelsea Flower Show

Chelsea Flower Show

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show May 20, 1913 On this day, the first Chelsea Flower Show was held at Chelsea General Hospital. Originally called the Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show, the first Chelsea Flower Show was held in 1862 at the RHS garden in Kensington. Staged in a single tent, the first…

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Emma Genevieve Gillette

Emma Genevieve Gillette

The Mother of the Michigan State Parks System May 19, 1898  Today is the birthday of the woman known as the First Lady of Michigan State Parks and Natural Areas and the “Mother” of Michigan State Parks system, Emma Genevieve Gillette, who was born in Lansing. Genevieve learned to love nature from her dad. He would…

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Catherine Furbish

Catherine Furbish

The Maine Botanist May 19, 1834 Today is the birthday of the daring self-taught American botanist Catherine Furbish. Kate is remembered for her life-long work collecting, classifying, and illustrating the flora of the great state of Maine. Kate spent six decades crisscrossing her home state. Her delicate, beautiful, and simple botanical art charms gardeners still…

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Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyam

The Persian Poet May 18, 1048 Today is the birthday of the Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet Omar Khayyam (“Ky-yem”). In 1859, the British writer Edward FitzGerald translated and published Omar’s signature work, The Rubáiyát (“Rue-By-yat”). In The Rubáiyát, Omar wrote some beautiful garden verses: “I sometimes think that never blooms so red The rose that grows where some…

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John Yapp Culyer

John Yapp Culyer

The Brain Behind the “Tree-Movers” May 18, 1839 Today is the birthday of the American civil engineer, landscape architect, inventor, and plantsman John Yapp Culyer. John was commissioned to work on parks in major cities across America – like Chicago and Pittsburgh. He was the Chief Landscape Engineer of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, which opened to…

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Mary Delany

Mary Delany

Paper Mosaics May 17, 1700 Today is the birthday of the botanical tissue paper decoupage artist Mary Delany. Mary Delany led an extraordinary life. When she was 17, her family had forced her to marry a sixty-year-old man. Mary soon discovered he was an alcoholic. To make matters worse, when he died, Mary’s husband forgot…

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Lord Byron

Lord Byron

A Literary Crime May 17, 1824 On this day, the diaries of the English Romantic poet, satirist, and politician, Lord Byron, are burned by six of his friends. The act intended to protect his privacy has also been described as “the greatest crime in literary history.” The loss likely impacted botanical literature as Lord Byron…

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George Cooper

George Cooper

My Garden May 14, 1840 Today is the birthday of the American poet, lyricist, and hymn-writer George Cooper. Today, George is remembered for his happy song lyrics, which were often set to music written by Stephen Foster. And George wrote a little poem dear to gardeners called, My Garden. When fields are green, and skies…

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Charles Joseph Sauriol

Charles Joseph Sauriol

Bleeding Heart May 14, 1938 On this day, the Canadian conservationist and naturalist Charles Joseph Sauriol wrote in his journal, “I have some most beautiful Pansies from the seeds of last year. Pansies are a surprise packet. You never know what to expect, and you are never disappointed if you [don’t?] expect much.”  We found…

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William Christman

William Christman

The First Burial at Arlington Cemetery May 13, 1864 Today Private William Christman becomes the first person to be buried at Arlington Cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery didn’t start out as a cemetery. It was actually a property that belonged to the Custis family – the family of George Washington Parke Custis, the adopted son of…

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