February 18, 2022 Valerius Cordus, André Robert Breton, Toni Morrison, The Secrets of the Great Botanists by Matthew Biggs, and Antoine Nicolas Duchesne
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1515 Birth of Valerius Cordus, German physician, botanist, and pharmacologist. He wrote one of the most popular herbals in history and discovered a way to synthesize ether, which he called oleum dulci vitrioli, or "sweet oil of vitriol." Centuries later, the botanist Thomas Archibald Sprague re-published "The Herbal of Valerius Cordus" with his older sister. In 1544, Valerius spent the summer botanizing in Italy with two French naturalists. At some point, he waded into marshes in search of new plants. When he became sick, his friends brought him to Rome. Then, they continued on to Naples. When they returned to Rome, they found Valerius had died. He was 29. The Swiss botanist Konrad Gesner collected and preserved Cordus' work, which was significant. One expert once said,
There was Theophrastus; there was nothing for 1,800 years; then there was Cordus.
The plant genus Cordia is named for him. Cordia's are in the borage family, and many cordias have fragrant, showy flowers. Some cordias produce edible fruits called clammy cherries, glue berries, sebesten, or snotty gobbles.
1896 Birth of André Robert Breton (books by this author), French writer and poet. He is remembered as the co-founder of surrealism and he wrote the first Surrealist Manifesto.
He once wrote,
The man who can't visualize a horse galloping on a tomato is an idiot.
1931 Birth of Toni Morrison (books by this author), American writer, book editor, and college professor.
In her book, Jazz, she wrote of the change in seasons.
What can beat bricks warming up to the sun? The return of awnings. The removal of blankets from horses’ backs. Tar softens under the heel, and the darkness under bridges changes from gloom to cooling shade. After a light rain, when the leaves have come, tree limbs are like wet fingers playing in woolly green hair.
Grow That Garden Library™
The Secrets of the Great Botanists by Matthew Biggs
This book came out late in 2018, and the subtitle is What They Can Teach Us About Gardening.
Matthew Biggs loves to research botanists and share their stories. In this book, he profiles 35 botanists who significantly increased our understanding of plants. As with most RHS books, this book is beautifully illustrated with that RHS look and feel. It is loaded with plenty of drawings, portraits, and photographs to make each story come alive.
This book is 224 pages of pioneering botanists and how knowing their work can make us better gardeners.
You can get a copy of The Secrets of the Great Botanists by Matthew Biggs and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for $16.
1827 Death of Antoine Nicolas Duchesne ("do-shayn") (books about this person), French botanist, gardener, and professor at Versailles.
As a young botanist, Antoine was a student of Bernard de Jussieu at the Royal Garden in Paris and made many scientific discoveries. Antoine recognized that mutation was a natural occurrence and that plants could be altered via mutation at any time.
In his work with mutation, Antoine began experimenting with strawberries. Ever since the 1300s, wild strawberries have been incorporated into gardens. But on July 6, 1764, Antoine changed the trajectory of wild strawberries when he created the modern strawberry - the strawberry we know today.
Strawberries are members of the rose family, and they are unique in that their seeds are on the outside of the fruit.
Just how many seeds are on a single strawberry? The average strawberry has around 200 seeds.
To get your strawberry plant to produce more fruit, plant your strawberries in full sun, in well-drained soil, and trim the runners.
Of the strawberry, Toni Morrison said,
I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer – its dust and lowering skies.
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