April 8, 2019 John Claudius Loudon, Mary Pickford, Katie Melua, Hugo von Mohl, William Watson, Jackie Bennett, and the Duke of Wellington

Have you thought much about the layout or shape of your garden beds?

Do they follow the natural lines and slopes of the landscape?

Are they geometric? Long beds with corners?
Maybe you've tried a circle garden.


If you're a beginner gardener, border beds anchored by a backdrop (like a house or a fence) are the easiest to plan and execute.

Often overlooked, one thing to consider in border beds is to add some stepping stones or even a small path along the back to provide access points that make tending your garden easier.




#OTD In 1783: The birthday of Scottish author, garden designer, and botanist John Claudius Loudon (Books By This Author).

A massively popular and breathtakingly prolific writer on horticulture, John focused on serving the needs of the expanding middle class who wanted to have smaller gardens. 1838, Loudon wrote in his book called The Suburban Gardener and Villa Companion,

“A suburban residence with a small portion of land attached will contain all that is essential to happiness."


Loudon created and published a magazine called The Gardener's Magazine. It started as a quarterly. The first issue sold 4,000 copies. It soon became bi-monthly. Loudon used the platform to introduce a new landscape perspective called "gardenesque."

Before Loudon, the prevailing landscape style was the "picturesque" view. In contrast with the big picture or natural perspective of the picturesque garden style, Loudon wanted to draw attention to individual specimens - isolating them by removing surrounding plants or using geometrical beds. During Loudon's time, exotic plants were the rage, and a controlled garden was the best way to feature specimen plants.

Loudon's "Gardenesque style," or The Plant Collector's Garden, with formal features and botanical variety, was very popular with Victorian gardens. Loudon favored circular beds, of the type which can still be seen in the flower garden at Greenwich Park, because they show plants so well and because they are instantly 'recognizable' as the work of man.

John Loudon said,

“Any creation to be recognized as a work of art, must be such as can never be mistaken for a work of nature.”


Loudon invented the term "arboretum" - a garden of trees designed for scientific and educational purposes. He also considered the value of public green spaces or "breathing zones" in cities.

Loudon married writer Jane Webb. Jane was indispensable to him. Loudon suffered from reduced limb mobility after an attack of rheumatic fever in 1806. In 1825, his right arm had to be amputated at the shoulder without anesthesia. Around midnight on December 14, 1843, Loudon was dictating a book to his wife when he collapsed into her arms and died. The book was called Self-instruction to Young Gardeners.



Born #OTD April 8, 1892, America's sweetheart, Hollywood legend, and lover of trees, Mary Pickford, born Gladys Marie Smith.

Jump on Twitter, search for "Mary Pickford Tree," and see images of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford planting a tree at their PickFair estate. #ArborDay

Mary Pickford (Books By This Author) was the first to plant a Japanese cedar tree in the Forest of Fame at the California Botanic Garden.

Trivia/Folklore says that Mary Pickford used to eat Flowers - especially roses. Thought that they'd make her beautiful,l and they did,

Katie Melua sang a song called Mary Pickford which starts,

"Mary Pickford
Used to eat roses
Thinking they'd make her Beautiful,
and they did-
One supposes."


Apparently, Pickford did used to eat roses to make herself look more beautiful.

Mary Pickford reveals in her autobiography, Sunshine and Shadow, that as a young girl living in Toronto, she would buy a single rose and eat the petals, believing the beauty, color, and perfume would somehow get inside her.

Pickford also gifted leading man John Gilbert a bench for his garden.

It was Mary Pickford who said,

"I do not cry easily when seeing a picture, but after seeing [Charles Chaplin's] A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923) I was all choked up - I wanted to go out in the garden and have it out by myself. Our cook felt the same way."



#OTD in 1805, Hugo von Mohl was born.

The most significant "botanist of his day," it said in one newspaper.

A German botanist, he was the first to propose that new cells are formed by cell division. Hugo von Mohl discovered mitosis. He discovered chloroplasts - describing them as discrete bodies within the green plant cell in 1837. In 1846, he called the sap in plant cells "the living substance of the cell" and created the word "protoplasm."




Unearthed Words

An April poem that puts all others in shadow is the lyrical "April" by William Watson. (Books By This Author)

England's onetime poet Laureate began the poem with an unforgettably beautiful expression that reminds us that April is the girlish daughter of springtime:

"April, April, laugh your girlish laughter, then, the moment after, weep your girlish tears."



April, April,
Laugh thy girlish laughter;
the moment after,
Weep thy girlish tears!

that mine ears Like a lover greetest,
If I tell thee, sweetest, All my hopes and fears,

April, April,
Laugh thy golden laughter,
But, the moment after,
Weep thy golden tears!




Today's Book Recommendation: The Writer's Garden by Jackie Bennett

This book features 18 gardens and 20 writers; the author reveals how the gardens were tended and enjoyed.

The book highlights the gardens of:

Jane Austen at Godmersham and Chawton
Rupert Brooke at Grantchester
John Ruskin at Brantwood
Agatha Christie at Greenway
Beatrix Potter at HillTop
Roald Dahl at Gipsy House
Charles Dickens at Gad's Hill Place
Virginia Woolf at Monk's House
Winston Churchill at Chartwell
Laurence Sterne at Shandy Hall
George Bernard Shaw at Shaw's Corner
Ted Hughes at Lumb Bank
Henry James followed by E.F. Benson at Lamb House
John Clare at Helpston
Thomas Hardy at Hardy's Cottage and Max Gate
Robert Burns at Ellisland
William Wordsworth at Cockermouth and Grasmere
Walter Scott at Abbotsford
Rudyard Kipling at Bateman's




Today's Garden Chore

Make plans to add more berries to your garden this season.

Blueberries should be at the top of your list - they're beautiful in the shoulder seasons - Spring and Fall - plus - Blueberries!



Something Sweet

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart


Here is the fabled story of the "Waterloo Breeches."

John Claudius Loudon had written his friend, the Duke of Wellington, to inquire whether he might inspect the Waterloo Beeches. As a memorial of the Battle of Waterloo, beech trees had been planted immediately after the battle of Waterloo.

Loudon's note was hard to read, and the Duke misinterpreted a few things.

First, he thought the note was from C.J. London (the Bishop of London) - not J.C. Loudon (the eminent landscape designer).

Second, he misread "beeches" as "BREECHE.".

Thus, he thought the Bishop of London wanted to inspect his pants.

The Duke wrote the Bishop back, saying:

"My dear Bishop of London, It will always give me great pleasure to see you at Strathfieldsaye. Pray come there whenever it suits your convenience, whether I am at home or not. My servant will receive orders to show you so many pairs of breeches of mine as you wish ; but why you should wish to inspect those that I wore at the battle of Waterloo is quite beyond the comprehension of yours, most truly, Wellington."


When this surprising note reached the Bishop of London, he showed it to many of his peers including Archbishop of Canterbury in an effort to make sense of Wellington's words. Baffled, they assumed the great Duke of Wellington had lost his mind.

But after the whole matter got straightened out, the incident became known as the story of the "Waterloo Breeches." And, we wouldn't have it - without John Claudius Loudon.




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And remember:

"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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