February 17, 2022 Reginald Farrer, the Carrot, Small Garden Style by Isa Hendry Eaton, and Elizabeth Roberts MacDonald


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Historical Events

1880 Birth of Reginald Farrer ("Fair-rur")(books by this author), the legendary English rock and alpine gardener, plant explorer, nurseryman, writer, and painter.
A son of a wealthy family in the Yorkshire Dales, Reginald repeatedly referenced Yorkshire in his writing. Reginald was born with many physical challenges. He had a cleft palate, speech difficulties, and what Reg himself called a "pygmy body." He had many surgeries to correct his mouth, which meant he was homeschooled. But the silver lining of his solitary childhood was his connection to nature. Reginald found happiness among flora and fauna, and he particularly loved the rocks, ravines, and hills around his home.
At 14, he created his first rock garden, which eventually became a Craven nursery specializing in Asian mountain plants. Every time Reginald went on expeditions, he sent new alpine plants and seeds to Craven.
After college, Reginald became a devout Buddhist, and he liked to say that he found "joy in high places." The European Alps became a yearly touchstone. And although he saw some of the most incredible mountains vistas in the world - they held no sway with Reginald. For Reginald - it was always about the plants.
Reginald wrote,

It may come as a shock and a heresy to my fellow Ramblers when I make the confession that, to me, the mountains… exist simply as homes and backgrounds to their population of infinitesimal plants.

Reginald's book, The Garden of Asia, launched his writing career and showed garden writers a new way to write about plants. The botanist Clarence Elliot observed,

As a writer of garden books [Reginald] stood alone. He wrote… from a peculiar angle... giving queer human attributes to his plants, which somehow exactly described them.

His passion for rock gardens was perfectly timed. The British gardening public latched on to rock gardening with a frenzy. Rockeries were in every backyard. Reginald's book My Rock Garden (1907)was an instant success and earned him the moniker Prince of Alpine Gardeners

In 1919, at the age of 40, Reginald took a trip to Myanmar. He would never see his beloved Yorkshire again. He met his end alone on a remote Burmese mountain. Most reports say he died of Diptheria, but the explorer and botanist Joseph Rock said he heard Reginald drank himself to death on the night of October 17th, 1920.

And I thought of Reginald up on that mountain alone when I researched the etymology of the name of his nursery, Craven, which means defeated, crushed, or overwhelmed.
Today Reginald is remembered in the names of many plants like the beautiful blue Gentiana farreri ("jen-tee-AYE-na FAIR-ur-eye"). And the Alpine Garden Society's most highly-prized show medal is the Farrer Medal, which honors the best plant in the show.

It was Reginald Farrer who said,

I think the true gardener is a lover of his flowers, not a critic of them. I think the true gardener is the reverent servant of Nature, not her truculent, wife-beating master. I think the true gardener, the older he grows, should more and more develop a humble, grateful and uncertain spirit.

He also said,

All the wars of the world, all the Caesars, have not the staying power of a lily in a cottage garden.


1918 On this day, Dora Hughes wrote an article for the New-York Tribune called, The Carrot Comes into its Own, (carrot cookbooks). She wrote, 

Time was when the carrot held high estate, for in the days of King Charles I, the ladies of the royal court used its feathery plumes in place of feathers for their adornment.

Physicians prized the roots for their diuretic properties, from which came the general impression that eating carrots beautified the complexion and hair.

Possibly the reason why carrots are not more often served is that, as a rule, they are prepared always in the same way. But one may serve carrots each day for a week and never have them twice in the same form. It is a pity that so few housekeepers seem to realize this.

Then Dora offers up a diverse list of options for serving carrots:

CRECY SOUP ("Chrissy")
Crecy soup takes its name from the town in France where it was first made.

Carrots are excellent simply mashed and dressed with butter.

Carrot croquettes are made of mashed carrot and cracker crumbs, seasoned and mixed with egg.

Fried carrots are prepared by cutting cooked carrots in long slices, dipping in egg and bread crumbs, and then brown in hot fat.
Candied carrots: Butter a baking dish, lay in it slices of cold carrot.. sprinkle sugar ...and cinnamon or mace, add water or milk.

Carrots and peas are a favorite French dish and their method is to cut the carrot in dice not much larger than the peas... heated together in a saucepan with oil for the dressing.


Carrot and celery make another good combination. Have an equal amount of each, the celery in thin slices and the carrot in small pieces. Boil the carrots till tender and drain. Scald the celery; mix the two and put to cook in a pint of milk. Thicken with a teaspoonful of cornstarch dissolved in a little cold milk, season with salt, pepper and butter and serve as soon as boiled. For a supper dish serve on toast.


Grow That Garden Library™
Book Recommendation

Small Garden Style by Isa Hendry Eaton

This book came in 2020, and the subtitle is A Design Guide for Outdoor Rooms and Containers.

Little gardens, petite gardens, mini-gardens - whatever you call them, they are manageable, doable, and fun.

Now Isa's approach is to layer in big style to these little marvels so that you end up with a garden that is lush and lovely. Her designs have a dramatic flare - no doubt thanks to her background in graphic design. 

There's a time in all our lives for small gardens. When I first lived at the cabin during the pandemic, I was quite content with a small kitchen garden on the deck compared to my wrap-around full-scale garden set up in the suburbs. What Isa shows us how to do is to embrace the smaller size but not sacrifice style. Isa's gardens are joyful, elegant, inviting, and exciting - and she has mastered creating outdoor living in small spaces for entertaining or relaxing.

Now, if you don't even know where to start, never fear. Isa has a style quiz to help you pinpoint your own personal garden style. She also gets you thinking about your small space in new ways so that you can utilize all of the space - factoring in horizontal, vertical, and overhead spaces.

Isa shows you some design tricks with pots and containers to create stunning planters, and she loves to tuck in succulents and grasses and all kinds of textures to add that drama - that graphic design approach - that Isa is known for. Isa also shares what she's learned from garden pros and reveals her favorite plants and decor for small spaces. She offers ideas for lawn alternatives and guides you through how to add in all kinds of elements like a fire pit, an instant mini orchard (my favorite!), a boulder birdbath, a perfumed wall, and a faux fountain with cascading plants - just to name a few.

You'll learn from Isa that Small Gardens do not have to be dull or unimaginative. Isa is all about helping you transform your space into a jewel of Pinterest-worthy garden style - a modern garden oasis.

You can get a copy of Small Garden Style by Isa Hendry Eaton and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for $4.


Botanic Spark

1864 Birth of Elizabeth Roberts MacDonald, Canadian poet, and short-story writer. She was a teacher at the School for Blind in Halifax. She's remembered for her 1906 collection of poems called Dream Verses and Others. Here's the last stanza from her poem A Song of Seasons, in which she praises the virtues of every season and then ends with these words: 

Sing a song of loving!
Let the seasons go;
Hearts can make their gardens
Under sun or snow;
Fear no fading blossom,
Nor the dying day;
Sing a song of loving, 
That will last for aye! (forever)


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

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