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1606 Birth of Edmund Waller (books about this person), English poet, and politician who was one of the longest-serving members in the English House of Commons.
Edmund is remembered for his carpe diem or "seize the day" poem, Go, Lovely Rose (1645), in which the rose must relay an urgent message: that time is short, that she is beautiful and that he loves her.
Go, lovely rose!
Tell her that wastes her time and me,
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.
1616 Birth Mathias de l'Obel ("ma-TEE-us dew Lew-bell"), Flemish physician and botanist.
Mathias practiced medicine in England, and he was the first botanist to recognize the difference between monocots and dicots.
Today we remember Mathias de l'Obel ("LEW-bell") with the Lobelia plant. Before researching Mathias, I pronounced obelia as "LOW- beel- ya." But now, knowing the French pronunciation of his name, I will say it "LEW-beel-ya." It's a subtle little change (LOW vs. LEW), but after all, the plant is named in Mathias's honor.
Now, for as lovely as the Lobelia is, the common names for Lobelia are terribly unattractive. They include names like Asthma Weed, Bladderpod, Gagroot, Pukeweed, etc. Vomit Wort, and Wild Tobacco. These common names for Lobelia reflect that Lobelia is very toxic to eat.
Despite its toxicity, Lobelia is one of the sweetest-looking plants for your summer containers. This dainty annual comes in pink, light blue, and royal blue. Personally, every year, I buy two flats of light blue Lobelias. But no matter the color you choose, lobelias are a favorite of pollinators. The delicate blossoms frequently host bees, butterflies, and moths, which only adds to their charm.
Muriel married a fellow biochemist named Victor Onslow. Victor was actually the son of royalty - his dad was the fourth Earl of Onslow.
When Victor was a student at Cambridge, he was paralyzed from the waist down after diving off a cliff into a lake. Victor's physical limitations did not stop Muriel from loving him. Even though they were married for only a little over three years before Victor's untimely death, Victor and Muriel's love story was one of mutual admiration and respect. When Muriel recorded her memoir of Victor, she wrote that he was a man of amazing courage and mental vitality; and that he was an inspiration to their peers in biochemistry.
Muriel worked with snapdragons, which come in a range of flower colors including green, red, orange, yellow, white, purple, and pink - and now even bicolor and speckled. The snapdragon was the perfect subject for Murial's work. Muriel's coloration research resulted in four major papers on snapdragon color inheritance and worldwide recognition.
In 2010, the Royal Institution in England sponsored a play about four female biochemists - including Muriel Onslow. The play was called Blooming Snapdragons.
Snapdragons or Antirrhinum majus ("ant-er-EYE-num MAY-jus") are a beloved cottage garden flower. They are a cousin to the foxglove. Snapdragons are happiest when planted early, in cool weather. They will bloom their hearts out all summer long. Then, if you cut them back in August, you will get a second flush of color in the fall.
1899 Birth of Yury Karlovich Olesha (books by this author), Russian and Soviet novelist. He was part of the Odessa School of Writers and is considered one of the greatest Russian novelists of the 20th century. Here's an excerpt from his book, Envy (1927):
“Once he raised his arm to show his friends the back of his hand, where the veins were laid out in the shape of a tree, and he broke out in the following improvisation:
“Here,” he said, “is the tree of life. Here is a tree that tells me more about life and death than the flowering and fading of tree gardens. I don’t remember when exactly I discovered that my wrist was blooming like a tree…but it must have been during that wonderful time when the flowering and fading of trees still spoke to me not of life and death but of the end and beginning of the school year! It was blue then, this tree, blue and slender, ...and turned my metacarpus’s entire landscape into a Japanese watercolor…
“The years passed, I changed, and the tree changed, too.
“I remember a splendid time; the tree was spreading. The pride I felt, seeing its inexorable flowering! It became gnarled and reddish brown—and therein lay its strength!
...But now, my friends! How decrepit it is, how rotten!
“The branches seem to be breaking off, cavities have appeared…
It’s sclerosis, my friends! And the fact that the skin is getting glassy, and the tissue beneath it is squishy —
isn’t this a fog settling on the tree of my life, the fog that will soon envelop all of me?”
Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation
Terrain by Greg Lehmkuhl
This book came out in 2018, and the subtitle is Ideas and Inspiration for Decorating the Home and Garden.
And yes, in case you're wondering, this is the same Terrain as in the historic nursery set in southeast Pennsylvania.
Terrain is a nationally renowned garden, home, and lifestyle brand with its own signature approach to living with nature. It's an approach that bridges the gap between home and garden, the indoors and the outdoors. An approach that embraces decorating with plants and inviting the garden into every living space.
That blurring of the outdoors and the indoors makes this book such a delight for gardeners. The book is loaded with gorgeous photos of ideas, projects, tips, and applications. There are tons of ideas for flower arranging beyond simple bouquets. You'll learn to use branches and wild natural elements like a pro. There are beautiful container gardens, wreaths for all seasons, preservation tips with glycerin, forcing branches, decorating with natural elements, and so many doable gorgeous ideas for every season of the year.
This book is a whopping 400 pages of a master class on decorating with nature and bringing the best of the garden indoors.
1878 Birth of Edward Thomas (books by this author), British Poet. Edward's mentor was Robert Frost, and a trip to see Frost inspired his most famous poem, October. Like Henry David Thoreau, Edward loved simplicity in his work and life.
There are two verses I wanted to share with you today. The first is from his poem Cherry Trees.
The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.
The second is an excerpt from his poem, The Manor Farm (1878)
Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed
And saw from elm tops, delicate as flowers of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.
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And remember: For a happy, healthy life, garden every day.