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Friends of the Garden Meeting in Athens Georgia
1810 Birth of William Griffith, English botanist and naturalist.
By the time a young William arrived at the botanical garden in Calcutta, he was eager to make his mark. But he clashed with the old ways of running the garden established by Nathaniel Wallich.
When Nathaniel departed to tend to his deteriorating health, William was put in charge of the garden. In his youth and inexperience, he acted in haste and he executed a complete renovation of the garden. For instance, there was an avenue of gorgeous Cycas trees that was a signature element of the garden and beloved by visitors, but William had the entire avenue removed. And in his singular focus on organizing plants by classification, he sacrificed beauty and common sense. Plants that were happy under the canopy of established trees and shrubs were suddenly exposed to the harsh Indian sun, and they burned and perished out in the open. In a little over two years, the garden bore no resemblance of its former glory.
In September of 1844, William married his brother’s wife’s sister - Emily Henderson. By the end of the year, William quit his post and left the Calcutta botanical garden for good. Together, William and Emily returned to Malacca in Southwestern Malaysia, but William got sick on the voyage. He had languished for ten days and then died from hepatitis. He was 34.
Meanwhile, back at the Calcutta Botanical Garden, it’s hard not to imagine the shock Nathaniel Wallich experienced when he returned to the garden in the summer of 1844 and saw the complete devastation in every bed and every planting in every corner of the garden. Nothing was untouched - it had all been changed.
Nathaniel shared his grief in a letter to his old friend William Hooker:
Where is the stately, matchless garden that I left in 1842?
Is this the same as that?
Can it be?
Day is not more different from night that the state of the garden as it was from its present utterly ruined condition. But no more on this.
My heart bleeds at what I am impelled daily – hourly to witness.
And yet I am chained to the spot, and the chain, in some respects, is of my own making.
I will not be driven away.
Lies, calumnies, every attempt... to ruin my character – publicly and privately... are still employed – they may make my life miserable and wretched, they may break my heart: but so so long as my conscience acquits me... so long will I not budge one inch from my post.
1847 Birth of Henry Frederick Conrad Sander, German-English orchidologist and nurseryman.
When he was 20, Conrad met the Czech plant collector Benedict Roezl. The two men struck up an idea for a business that left Benedict free to explore and collect plants and Conrad focused on selling the specimens.
Conrad set up shop in St. Albans, and Benedict was soon sending shipments of orchids from Central and South America.
After his successful arrangement with Benedict, Conrad expanded his operations. He soon had over twenty collectors gathering specimens and was growing orchids in over sixty greenhouses. Europe’s top collectors and even royalty stopped by to examine Conrad's inventory.
Soon known as the King of Orchids, Conrad wrote a two-volume masterpiece on every variety of orchid. He named his book Reichenbachia in honor of the legendary orchidologist Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach.
In return, Reichenbach honored Sanders by naming the “Queen of Philippine Orchids” Vanda Sanderiana, which the locals called the waling-waling orchid. The waling-waling is considered one of the rarest, most beautiful, and most expensive orchids, and it is also one of the largest species of orchids in the world.
Orchids are some of the world’s oldest flowering plants, producing the world’s tiniest seeds. A single Orchid seedpod can contain three million seeds! Orchids are also the largest family of flowering plants in the world. With over 25,000 species, Orchids represent about ten percent of all plant species on earth, and there are more orchids on earth than mammals and birds!
Now, once they are germinated, Orchids can take five to seven years to produce a flower. And if you look at the orchid bloom closely, you’ll see that the blossom, like the human face, is perfectly symmetrical, which only adds to their visual beauty. And, by the time you are buying that Orchid at Trader Joe’s, it is likely already decades old. But never fear, Orchids are long-lived and can reach their 100th birthday.
The vastness and complexity of orchids can be frustrating. Charles Darwin grew so discouraged writing his book about orchids that he wrote to a friend,
I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everybody and everything.
1949 On this day, the Santa Cruz Sentinel out of California, published a lovely story about an upcoming Arbor Day celebration that would plant trees to honor Luther Burbank.
In a bittersweet gesture, Nurseryman Joe Badger was personally planting a flowering plum tree. Joe's plum tree will be planted in Mrs. Burbank's garden at Santa Rosa, Calif, near the spot where her husband is buried.
Burbank’s widow said,
“No, there will be no wreath-laying on Luther Burbank's grave... Laying a wreath is only a ceremony... It doesn't make things grow." she said.
Instead, she and Nurseryman Joe Badger, who as a youngster stole plums from the Burbank experimental gardens, will plant a flowering plum tree adjoining the Redwood highway, where passersby can enjoy it.
The flowering plum was developed by her husband. He gained world fame with his Burbank potato, his spineless cactus, and many other horticultural achievements.
Her husband now lies buried under a huge Cedar of Lebanon tree in a simple unmarked grave. Beside him lies his white dog, Bonita, who was his constant companion until Burbank died in 1926.
Burbank requested that no marking be placed above his burial place. Instead, he was buried beneath his Cedar of Lebanon. He, himself, had planted the seed sent by a friend in Palestine.
He had said,
"When I go, don't raise a monument to me; plant a tree."
Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation
The Art of Outdoor Living by Scott Shrader
This book came out in 2019, and the subtitle is Gardens for Entertaining Family and Friends.
For anyone who wants to live well in their garden, here is a guide to creating stylish and livable outdoor spaces--for entertaining, playing, and relaxing.
Scott Shrader is a California landscape designer who has an intuitive ability to connect his outdoor landscape creations with the heart of the home. His designs are known for their sense of flow, style, and serenity. Scott's specialty is creating lush outdoor rooms where meals and company can be enjoyed at your leisure. Scott's blending of the indoors and the outdoors can be seen in these twelve gorgeous properties highlighted in this book.
Scott also shares his tips for keeping guests happy outdoors and he breaks down how planning ahead makes outdoor spaces comfortable, inviting places you don't want to leave.
This book also features some essays where Scott shares in-depth observations on all aspects of outdoor living and gardens including topics like sustainability, lifestyle, and paths.
This book is 240 pages of making outdoor spaces comfortable places for cooking, entertaining, playing, and relaxing.
1862 Birth of Norman Rowland Gale, English poet, storyteller, and reviewer.
His best-known poem is The Country Faith, which ends with this verse:
God comes down in the rain,
And the crop grows tall—
This is the country faith,
And the best of all!
In his book A Merry-Go-Round of Song, there is a poem about fairies. Norman wrote,
If you could pierce with magic eyes
The secrets of the lavender,
You'd find a thousand Fairylings
A-perching there, with folded wings.
And pouring sweetness into her.
Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener
And remember: For a happy, healthy life, garden every day.