Today we celebrate a happy lyricist and poet.
We'll also remember a charming diary entry from 1938 by a Canadian conservationist and naturalist.
We’ll honor a poem by Walt Whitman that inspired a beautiful composition that premiered this day in 1946.
We hear an excerpt about the healing power of the garden.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a gorgeous book about Wave Hill garden in the Bronx.
And then we’ll wrap things up with a little story about the origin of ketchup.
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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 are fair,
And summer fragrance fills the air,
I love to watch the budding rose
That in my pleasant garden grows;
But when old Winter, fierce and free,
Has hushed the murmur of the bee,
And all the fields and hills are hid
Beneath his snowy coverlid,
Oh! then my only garden-spot
Is just this little flower pot.
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 on Thursday night a section of Pine root with a Dogwood growing from its wood and rotted mold. Transplanted it to the Wild Flower garden. It will be exactly what I will require for certain Wild Flowers.
Planted a Bleeding Heart. Have wanted to do so for several years. It's an old-fashioned flower. Mother always used to have one in her garden when I was a small boy.”
Bleeding heart is in the poppy family. Additional common names for Bleeding heart include “lyre flower” and “lady-in-a-bath.” Native to Siberia, northern Asia, and North America, there are several cultivars for gardeners to consider, including ‘Alba,’ which has white flowers, ‘Gold Heart,’ which has yellow leaves; and ‘Valentine,’ which has red-and-white blossoms.
Auntie Dogma’s Garden Spot blog says,
“No other plant bears perfect heart-shaped flowers like those of the Bleeding Heart. If you press the flowers between the pages of a heavy book, you’ll have papery-thin little hearts to adorn letters or valentines. If you turn a flower upside down and pull the two halves apart, you’ll see a lady in a pink bathtub, or perhaps you’ll see a white lyre with strings of silk.”
And then, she shares the interactive story of the bleeding heart that uses a blossom to tell the story.
“(To begin narration of the story, hold a heart blossom in the palm of your hand.)
Long ago, there lived a noble prince who tried in vain to win the heart of a very beautiful princess. The prince had brought the princess wonderful gifts from his travels far and wide. First, he presented her with two magical pink bunnies.
(Peel off the two outer petals and set them on their sides to display two little pink bunnies.)
The princess barely looked at the little bunnies.
The hopeful prince had one more gift saved for last – he presented a pair of beautiful enchanted earrings.
(Remove the two long white petals and hold them next to your ears.)
Again, the princess hardly noticed the prince’s gift.
Now the poor prince was utterly heartbroken. He could try no more to win the heart of the princess. He rose up, pulled a dagger from his sheath, and stabbed himself in the heart.
(Remaining in the flower is a heart shape with the stamen, appearing as a dark green line down the center. Hold the heart up, carefully remove the dagger-like line, and plunge the dagger through the heart.)
The princess was overcome by the dedication of the dying prince and his unending love for her. She realized too late that she loved him also. “Alas,” she cried out. “My own heart is also broken. I shall bleed for my prince forevermore!” And her heart bleeds to this very day.”
May 14, 1946
On this day, Paul Hindemith's composition When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom'd: A Requiem "For Those We Love" premiered.
The music was inspired by a poem of the same title by Walt Whitman, When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom'd.
Walt Whitman wrote his poem in the summer of 1865. The country was still mourning the assassination of President Lincoln.
And yet, in 206 lines, Walt does not mention Lincoln’s name or the assassination. Instead, he uses nature and nature imagery to move the reader from grief to acceptance.
Lincoln was killed in the spring of that year on April 14, 1865. Walt was staying at his mother’s home when he heard the news. Later he recalled,
“I remember… there were many lilacs in full bloom… I find myself always reminded of the great tragedy of that day by the sight and odor of these blossoms. It never fails.”
When Walt Whitman was 54 years old, he suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed. He spent the next two years immersed in nature, and he believed that nature had helped heal him. He wrote,
"How it all nourishes, lulls me, in the way most needed; the open air, the rye-fields, the apple orchards.”
But spring twilight found her barefoot in the garden, planting beans and helping me fill my pail with earthworms that were severed by her shovel. I thought I could nurse them back to health in the worm hospital I constructed beneath the irises. She encouraged me in this, always saying, “There is no hurt that can’t be healed by love.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, mother, plant ecologist, writer, and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2019, and the subtitle is The Gardens of Wave Hill.
In this book, Thomas introduces us to Wave Hill - a garden that opened to the public in 1967.
A public garden in the Bronx, Wave Hill is known for its daring and innovative horticulture. Thomas takes us on a tour of the different areas of the garden — the flower garden, wild garden, shade border, and conservatory. In addition, Thomas reviews the plants and design principles that underpin Wave Hill.
Enchanting and inspiring, Wave Hill manages to delight and instruct gardeners all year long.
This book is 296 pages of a private tour of a jewel of the Bronx - the iconic Wave Hill.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
May 14, 1846
Today is the anniversary of the death of the American scientist, horticulturist, and physician James Mease.
A son of Philadelphia, James was a passionate gardener, and he consistently referred to tomatoes the way the French did - as “Love Apples.”
In 1812, James published the first known tomato-based ketchup recipe. Although Ketchup had existed in China for centuries, James added the tomato base - something that caught on not only in the United States but also in England.
For his unique recipe, James used tomato pulp, spices, and brandy. Unlike many other recipes, James did not use sugar or vinegar. He named his recipe “Love-Apple Catsup."
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