February 8, 2022 Thomas Jefferson, John Galvin, Del Monte, Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich, and John Ruskin


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Historical Events

1809 On this day, Thomas Jefferson (books about this person) wrote to his friend and favorite nurseryman, Bernhard McMahon.

At the time, Jefferson was counting the days until he retired from the White House.

From Jefferson's letters, it's clear that he was looking forward to spending more time in his garden.

The previous July, Jefferson had written McMahon and confided:

Early in the next year I shall ask [for] some cuttings of your gooseberries
and [I'll also] send a pretty copious list for...the best kinds of garden seeds and flowers.
I shall be at home early in March [and plan to] very much devote myself to my garden…
I have the tulips you sent to me in great perfection, also the hyacinths, tuberoses, amaryllis, and artichokes.


And so, when Jefferson wrote to McMahon on this day - a month before leaving office - he was following up with the list of plants he wanted at Monticello ("MontiCHELLo"). As you might imagine, Jefferson's letter reads the same as any written by an avid gardener in pursuit of new stock:

I have been daily expecting some of the large hiccory nuts from Roanoke…
but they [have] not yet arrived.   
I must now ask [a] favor of you
to furnish me with the [items mentioned below] for the garden,
which will occupy much of my attention... at home.

…If you will be so good as to send them by the stage
which leaves Philadelphia on the 1st of March…
they will come in time for me to carry on to Monticello.

I salute you with esteem.

Th: Jefferson

  • Chili strawberry
  • Hudson strawberry
  • Some of the fine gooseberry plants of which you sent me the fruit last year
  • Some roots of Crown imperials(Fritillaria imperialis - a dazzling and unique member of the Lily (Liliaceae) family)
  • lilium convallarium (lily of the valley)
  • Auricula
  • Sea kale, or Crambe maritime
  • One gallon of Leadman’s dwarf peas (mentioned in your book page 310)


1823 John Galvin was born. An English-American born in Kent, he mastered his grandfather's nursery business in Ireland before immigrating to America with his mother at 18.

After working for several nurseries in New England, including the property owned by Thomas Motley which would eventually become the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard, John went on to beautify Boston as the City's Forester. John's greatest legacy was transforming old circus grounds and a playground into the Boston Public Garden. After the Massachusetts Public Garden Act was passed in 1856, George Meacham was hired to design the park. But it was John Galvin, and his crew who installed the trees, shrubs, flowers, and turf.

Outside of his work for the city, John opened the very first retail florist shop in Boston, making life much easier for him and his customers. Before John's flower shop, Bostonians had to order their roses and other cut flowers by mail. They would put their orders in little post boxes that John had placed in various stores around the city. It was a cumbersome process. John named his business John Galvin & Co., and the work became a family affair as John's wife and seven children helped the business prosper. Over time, the middle child, a son named Thomas, took over the business, and he became a successful gardener, landscape designer, and florist in his own right.

John was a beloved member of many Boston social and charitable groups. He embraced his Irish heritage and loved dancing jigs and reels. One obituary noted that his favorite Irish song was Malony Don't Know that McCarthy is Dead, sung to the tune of the Irish Washerwoman.

Two years before he died, at the age of 76, the April 6th, 1899 edition of the New England Florist shared a little story about John. They wrote,

The veteran florist John Galvin, the father of Thomas W Galvin, had his pocket picked on the street the other day - March 31st, we believe. But [he] knew nothing about it until told by a friend whom [John] suspected of trying to spring an April Fool's on him. [That is,] until he found his pocketbook with $70 in cash missing.

[But in a stroke of good fortune,] the thief, while being chased by the police, [dropped the pocketbook.] [John's ownership] was ascertained [after finding] his name marked [inside].

The moral is to get $70 in your pocketbook and then be sure your name is on it.


1944 On this day, Del Monte ran an ad supporting the quality of their canned and jarred fruit over homegrown. 

Despite prior marketing in support of Victory Gardens, on this day Del Monte floated a pitch to consumers on this day during WWII that featured a woman holding a can of peaches saying,

I learned the hard way all right! — and believe me, since I put up fruit of my own I appreciate Del Monte quality more than ever!


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich

This book came out late in 2021, and the subtitle is Classic Recipes, Local Secrets.

This is Pati's third cookbook. It follows two previous cookbooks that were very well received: Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking and Mexican Today: New and Rediscovered Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Pati Jinich ("Hee-nich") hosts her PBS television series Pati's Mexican Table, which is going on its tenth season and has won numerous awards, including James Beard Awards and Emmys.

In her latest cookbook book, Treasures of the Mexican Table, Pati is sharing heirloom recipes that have been held onto in families for generations. These recipes utilize vegetables like peppers, onion, garlic, and countless herbs straight from the garden. If Chipotle's success indicates the popularity of Mexican food, then Pati's Treasures will be sure to please - taking center stage on your outdoor dining tables this summer. Pati's cookbook is a hefty work - 416 pages and weighing in at almost three pounds.

Inside, you'll find history and tradition, as well as cherished family recipes covering every category of cooking from soups to tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tamales and salsas, pickles, guacamole, beans, rice, and pasta, just to name a few.

You can get a copy of Pati Jinich Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for $23.


Botanic Spark

1819 Birth of John Ruskin (books by this author), Victorian-era English art critic, watercolorist, and philanthropist.

John's love of nature is reflected in much of his writing. John wrote:

Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.


John also recognized that beauty and utility didn't always go hand in hand. He once observed,

Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies, for instance.


John's named his home and garden Brantwood. The name Brantwood is Norse; Brant means steep. Situated on a wooded highpoint overlooking a lake, today Brantwood is administered by a charitable trust.

As with most gardens from time to time, John's own garden experienced times of neglect. By the end of the summer in 1879, John wrote,

Looking over my kitchen garden yesterday, I found it [a] miserable mass of weeds gone to seed; the roses in the higher garden putrefied into brown sponges, feeling like dead snails; and the half-ripe strawberries all rotten at the stalks.


As for his legacy, there's one famous garden saying from John Ruskin that has remained popular through the years:

Kind hearts are the garden,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deeds are the fruit.


Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener

And remember: For a happy, healthy life, garden every day.

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