Wild Victory Gardens
Today is the birthday of the botanist Bonnie Templeton who was born on this day in 1906.
In 2002, Templeton died at the age of 95. She was a trailblazing female in the field of botany.
Her obituary noted her some of her botanical accomplishments which included,
"discovering a rare plant on the El Segundo Sand dunes in the 1930s."
And although she was born in Nebraska, at the age of 16, she made her way - all alone - to Los Angeles where fate brought her to botany.
In the mid-1920s, after working as a waitress and a secretary, she found herself at an employment agency. They had a job working for a botanist who needed help with his extensive private herbarium.
By 1929, Templeton was hired as the Curator of Botany at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. She was 23 years old; she would hold this position for over four decades from 1929 to 1970. Templeton also served as an on-call forensic botanist for the Los Angeles Police Department and the poison center.
Templeton received her doctorate from Oregon State University. Templeton made three separate gifts to the program at Oregon State, and her endowment has resulted in a new conference room, a herbarium preparation room, an imaging room, and a lectureship.
In researching Templeton, I discovered she was ahead of her time.
In 1969, she was featured in a newspaper article advocating for the use of native plants in landscaping by California homeowners.
And way back in 1943, she advocated what she called "Wild Victory Gardens,"; incorporating wild edibles into everyday cooking. Here's what was reported in The Signalout of Santa Clarita on April 23, 1943:
"[The] botanist Bonnie Templeton... has published a list of over 20 common weeds which she says are good substitutes for the common, leafy vegetables ordinarily sold in markets.
There are wild mustard and wild radish and wild lettuce and wild rhubarb and curly dock, and cheese plant and pigweed.
The ice plant is delicious eaten raw, she says, and the bristle leaved nettle is a good substitute for asparagus.
Now all of this is pretty blamed important for Newhall folks, because... wild victory gardens are about the only kind of victory garden possible here when the dry season sets in.
Maybe we can induce Bonnie to come up here and [give] a class on wild victory gardeners... and point out all of the edible kinds of wild green sass. Or better still, figure out a way of making a salad bowl out of foxtail."