February 15, 2022 Galileo, Karl Friedrich Schimper, Ernest Henry Wilson, Sanctified Landscape by David Schuyler, and Russell Herman Conwell


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Historical Events

1564 Birth of Galileo (books about this person), Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, mathematician, and philosopher. Galileo believed that the book of nature was "written in the language of mathematics." He recognized the complexity and the simplicity of that language when he wrote,

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do. 


1803 Birth of Karl Friedrich Schimper, German botanist and poet. He was born into a family of scientists. His mother was a botanist. At university, he befriended botanists, Alexander Braun and Louis Agassiz.

Karl made several keen scientific observations. He proved the association between the golden angle and the Fibonacci numbers. Karl also devised a theory of phyllotaxy which explained the serial addition of new leaves on a stem appearing in a spiral.

And after studying mountain landscapes, he began questioning how enormous rocks came to be positioned on the foothills of the Alps. Realizing the many-ton slabs could have only been moved by ice, he began devising a theory of an ice age - something he called an eiszeit.

Karl was a poet at heart, and he revealed his theory in a  light-hearted 22-stanza  poem - an Ode to the Iceage to honor Galileo on their shared birthday. One verse says,

Ice of the Past! Of an Age when frost
In its stern clasp held the lands of the South
Dressed with its mantle of desolate white
Mountains and forests, fair valleys and lakes!


In his book Humans: from the beginning, Christopher Seddon acknowledged Karl's discovery. He wrote:

2,588 million years ago... the Earth entered an Ice Age.
Cooler, arid conditions alternated with warm, wet conditions as ice sheets ebbed and flowed in higher latitudes...
This alternation between a cooler and a warmer climate has continued right up to the present day...
In fact the warm spells – interglacial periods – are no more than breaks in an on-going ice age...
The term Eiszeit (‘ice age’) was coined in 1837 by the German botanist Karl Friedrich Schimper.


1876 Birth of Ernest Henry Wilson (books by this author), English plant collector and explorer. He introduced over 2000 plant species from Asia to the West. Of the regal lily, he wrote,

Tis God’s present to our gardens... 
Anybody might have found it, but — 
His whisper came to me.


On his first trip to China, Ernest located the lost Dove tree, Also known as the Handkerchief Tree. He brought the tree to England in 1899. Ernest found the yellow Chinese poppy, the Regal lily, rhododendrons, roses, and primulas on his second trip.
During that second trip, Ernest's leg was crushed in a landslide. His leg was splinted with his camera tripod. But before Ernest could be moved, a mule caravan came upon Ernest and his party. Ernest was forced to lie down on the narrow trail and let some 40-50 mules step over him on their way across the mountain. Ernest himself marveled at this experience, and he later said,

The sure-footedness of the mule is well-known, and I realized it with gratitude as these animals one by one passed over me - and not even one frayed my clothing.


A year later, Ernest could walk without crutches, but not with a limp - something he called his lily limp. He once reflected,

The regal lily was worth it and more.


Grow That Garden Library™
Book Recommendation

Sanctified Landscape by David Schuyler

This book came out ten years ago in 2012, and the subtitle is Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820–1909.

David's book, the Sanctified Landscape, is about the first iconic American landscape: the Hudson River Valley. The title references a passage written by landscape painter Thomas Cole. 

In the early 1800s, the picturesque Hudson was home to writers and artists like Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, and Thomas Cole. As far as the artistic community was concerned, there was no better place on earth. But the landscape was not immune to the changes happening in the country at large. The artist community in the Hudson Valley were among America's earliest conservationists and did their best to protect their slice of Eden.

The Catskill and Hudson Valley remain a beloved areas of the country. David's book adds context and images that provide a deeper appreciation for the beauty and inspiration found in this Sanctified Landscape.

You can get a copy of Sanctified Landscape by David Schuyler and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for $15. 


Botanic Spark

1843 Birth of Russell Herman Conwell, American Baptist minister, lawyer, and founder of Temple University in Philadelphia. He once wrote,

I ask not for a larger garden, but for finer seeds.


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