December 11, 2019 Chinese Witch Hazel, Oca & Mashua Tubers, College Glen, Martin Sesse, Jacob Schneck, Victor Lemoine, Fiorello LaGuardia, Countertop Gardens by Shelley Levis, Galison Butterfly Puzzle, and the Shasta Snow-Wreath

Today we celebrate the Spanish botanist who tackled the area known as New Spain and the man who discovered the Schneck Oak.

We'll learn about the French botanist who made many of our blooms bigger and better and the mayor who was known as the Little Flower.

We'll hear some thoughts about Winter and how we can benefit from the solace.

We Grow That Garden Library with a book about indoor gardening.

I'll talk about a beautiful holiday gift for the gardener who likes to work on puzzles, and then we wrap things up with the 1992 discovery that rocked the botanical world.

But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.

Today's Curated Articles

Chinese Witch Hazel Plant story - Hamamelis mollis - The English Garden 

Here's the story behind the beautiful Chinese witch hazel - Hamamelis mollis. The English Plant Hunter Charlies Maries found it in China in 1878 & brought it home to London, where it sat unnoticed for 20 years. From 

In pictures: Tubers of the future | Kew @KewGardens

Thanks to @KewGardens for trialing these petite high-yield alternatives to the potato: oca tubers have a lemony taste (Oxalis tuberosa) & mashua tubers are peppery (Tropaeolum tuberosum). Both are native to the Andes.

Garden Design and Landscaping “College Glen” | Decorum.London @LondonDecorum @cedstonegroup

Here's a fantastic post by landscape design co @LondonDecorum Gorgeous "College Glen" w/ Sandstone Paving @cedstonegroup, timber, Siberian Larch deck, & Lavender plantings. Love it all - pics, project & plant list - so thoughtful!| Decorum.London

Now, if you'd like to check out these curated articles for yourself, you're in luck...

Because I share all of it with the Listener Community on Facebook. So, there’s no need to take notes or search for links - the next time you're on Facebook, just search for the Free Facebook Group - The Daily Gardener Community and request to join. I'd love to meet you in the group.

Important Events


#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 excellent at training young botanists, he was a pragmatist, and he had a strategic mind. He made plans for a major botanical expedition of new Spain, which was composed of the southwestern part of the United States, Mexico, and Central America. The expedition was an elaborate undertaking, and the botanists and the rest of the company would not return to Spain for a dozen years.

Sesse put together an A-team of botanists, including José Mariano Mociño and Vicente Cervantes, as well as a cantankerous naturalist by the name of José Longino Martinez. 

A surgeon and naturalist from Madrid, Martinez wasn't suited to teamwork. After one too many disagreements with Sesse and the other botanists, Martinez went his own way and went off to explore California, which is how he became known as California's first naturalist.

As for Sesse and the other botanists, they conducted several plant collecting missions all over Mexico, which resulted in Sesse's most significant contribution to botany; a Flora of Mexico.

Of course, Sesse didn't do any of this alone. He collaborated with his team, especially Mociño and Cervantes. Together they established the Royal Botanical Garden of Mexico City, and Cervantes ended up serving as the Prof. of botany. They also founded botanical gardens in Manila and the Canary Islands. Altogether, Sesse's team cost Spain nearly 400,000 pesos.

Sesse's work could not have been done without the support of King Carlos, the Third. Luckily Sesse's significant endeavors were accomplished by the time Carlos the Fourth ascended the throne in 1788. Number Four had little interest in advancing scientific knowledge. It was clear that the time of significant Spanish scientific exploration was coming to an end.

During his lifetime, Sesse made a significant number of botanical illustrations, which he brought with him when he returned back home to Spain. These pieces were never published, and they sat dormant until the botanist de Candolle saw them, and he knew right away that they were worth pursuing. He hired the artist is Jean Christophe Heyland to produce new drawings based on Sesse's work.

Today Sesse is remembered most conspicuously by a dry gin that's made in Madrid. It has a beautiful blue label.


#OTD Today is the birthday of the Indiana physician, naturalist, and botanist Jacob Schneck who was born on this day in 1843.

After his service in the Civil War, Jacob decided to educate himself by going to school to become a teacher. After teaching for a short period, he decided he wanted to become a doctor. His teaching jobs allowed him to put himself through medical school

Jacob loved plants, and he spent as much time as he could in the field Botanizing. His quick curiosity and cleverness enabled him to observe a feature regarding some species of red Oaks. Jacob noticed that the acorn from one species of red Oak was quite distinctive. He shared his discovery with a fellow botanist named Nathaniel Lord Britton. Britton agreed with Jacob’s observation, and he named the oak in his honor, calling it the Quercus Schneckii (ii = "ee-eye"). But most people just call it the Schneck Oak.

Jacob put together a collection of various types of wood for an exhibition at the Chicago World’s Fair.

Jacob died at the age of 63. His funeral was reported to be the largest ever held in Mount Caramel Illinois

Newspaper accounts indicated he had been battling pneumonia but still had gone out to tend to his patients. His efforts probably cost him his life.

“No man in Wabash county had endeared himself to so many people as had Dr. Schneck. Year after year he had gone about in our midst, quietly doing his great work for humanity, turning away now and then to investigate some scientific question, especially in the realm of botany, his favorite study, and one in which he had acquired a national reputation.”

After Schneck died, his collection of specimens, stones, shells, and fossils was put on display at the Carnegie public library in 1934.

When he was alive, Jacob spent a great deal of time fashioning cases and containers to display his collection. Each specimen was labeled in Dr. Schneck’s impeccable handwriting.


#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the French flower breeder Victor Lemoine who died on this day in 1911.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Lemoine for enhancing the beauty of so many flowers in our gardens: Lilacs, Mock-Oranges, Phlox, Peonies, Gladiolus, Tuberous Begonias, Geraniums, and Deutzias.

Around the year 1850, Lemoine borrowed money from his gardener father and began a nursery that survived three generations thanks to his son Emile and his grandson Henri. The Lemoine nursery thrived on land bought in Nancy, France (pronounced "non-cee"). A few years later, Lemoine created his first double-flower; the Portulaca grandiflora or Moss Ross. As with so many of Lemoine's creations, the double-flower created double the beauty.

In 1854, Lemoine turned the original five-petaled single blossom of the geranium into a double-flowered stunner he called "Gloire de Nancy" or "Glory of Nancy."

Northern gardeners owe Lemoine a debt of gratitude for his work with peonies. He crossed the Paeonia wittmanniana with the Siberian albaflora; creating a peony that could withstand a winter freeze. Lemoine created some of our most memorable heirlooms: the white Le Cygne or Swan peony, the Primevere with creamy white outer guard petals, and packed with canary yellow petals inside, the blush-colored Solange peony, the pink Sarah Bernhardt, La Fee the Fairy peony, and the creamy-white Alsace-Lorraine peony.

But, it is the Lilac that will forever be associated with Lemoine. Incredibly, Lemoine didn't start working on Lilacs until he was almost fifty. That said, Lemoine's wife, Marie Louise, was his tireless assistant when his eyes and fine-motor skills were failing. She hand-pollinated the little lilac flowers and aided both her husband and her son with hybridizing.

Lemoine worked magic with his Lilacs. He made them bloom earlier and later. He improved the quality of the bloom, and he expanded their color spectrum. He grew the very first double Lilac. By the time the Lemoine nursery closed its doors in 1968, the Lemoine's had bred 214 new cultivars of Lilac.


#OTD Happy birthday to the Little Flower, aka Fiorello LaGuardia, who was born on this day in 1882 on Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village.

Mayor LaGuardia often referred to as the Little Flower (Fiorello means little flower in Italian). Although the reference could be construed as a slight for LaGuardia’s short stature (he was only 5’2”), it became an ironic endearment as LaGuardia had a larger than life, take-charge personality. Little Flower is remembered for his desire for justice and fairness; he was a champion of the working class and immigrants. He died at age 64.

Unearthed Words

"In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me, there lay an invincible summer."

- Albert Camus

"There is a privacy about [winter] which no other season gives you ..... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself."

- Ruth Stout

Grow That Garden Library™

It's Time to Grow That Garden Library with Today's Book: Countertop Gardens by Shelley Levis

The subtitle for this book is Easily Grow Kitchen Edibles Indoors for Year-Round Enjoyment. This is such a timely topic for those of us who I want to maintain some type of gardening activity during the winter in addition to satisfying I desire for garden-to-table produce. Self-contained growing systems are perfect for growing your own food indoors, and they're becoming evermore is sufficient and occupy such a small footprint that now you can grow your food even in the smallest spaces.

Shelly walks you through the different growing systems that are available nowadays, including hydroponic, aquaponic, and vertical gardening systems. She also shows you how to make your own DIY setup.

Chapters include:

  • Countertop garden methods
  • Best edibles for countertop gardens
  • DIY countertop gardening
  • Growing basics
  • Countertop growing devices
  • Troubleshooting

Thanks to Shelley, Countertop Gardens ensures that fresh food is at your fingertips year-round.

You can get a used copy of Shelley's book and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for under $3.

Great Gifts for Garders

Today's Recommended Holiday Gift for Gardeners: Galison's 1,000-piece butterfly puzzle by Wendy Gold

This flawless fit 1000+ piece puzzle is a stunning collage work of art that makes for a challenging and gorgeous puzzle that you will love piecing together. The puzzle features Wendy Gold’s vintage images of butterflies collaged and clustered over a map of the world. Plus, it includes an insert with information about the artist and her fantastic image. The Galison Wendy Gold Butterfly Migration 1000-piece puzzle is the right level of challenge for older children or adults to complete over a long weekend or a few days. Pull up a chair and sit together at the kitchen table, talking and laughing as you find the proper place for each puzzle piece.

  • The finished puzzle measures 20” x 27.”
  • The 1054-piece colorful jigsaw puzzle is just the right level of challenge for a few days of activity.
  • It includes an insert with information about the artist and her fantastic image.
  • This flawless fit jigsaw puzzle features vintage images of butterflies collaged and clustered over a map of the world.
  • Makes an ideal gift for any puzzle lover!
  • Galison uses continuous quality control checks during production to ensure there is virtually no puzzle dust.
  • Each piece is printed with no glare, non-toxic inks.
  • $15.81

Something Sweet

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

On this day in 1992, California newspapers reported that botanists had discovered a new plant in California, and it was caused a big stir in the botanical world.

The plant is a member of the Rose family and has a delightfully charming common name - the Shasta snow-wreath. The closest known living species to the Shasta snow-wreath is the rare Alabama snow-wreath.

The Shasta snow-wreath is regarded as one of California's rarest plants. It has a beautiful blossom, which appears for just ten days in the spring. It looks like a white spikey puff ball made up of a cluster of stamens rather than petals.

A native shrub to California - especially around Lake Shasta - researches studying salamanders were familiar with the plant, but they didn’t know what it was.

In 1992, the two botanists - Dean Taylor and Glenn Clifton - were able to discover the plant thanks to the California drought, which caused the waters of Cedar Creek to drop far enough to enable them to access a limestone outcropping. The Shasta snow-wreath was identified after a week of review.

In April of this past year, volunteers removed invasive species from the places where the Shasta snow-wreath likes to grow - like along shorelines and canyons around Lake Shasta.

Today there are only around 20 populations of Shasta snow-wreath in California.

Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener, and remember -

“For a happy, healthy life, garden every day.”

The Daily Gardener
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