March 9, 2022 William Cobbett, Wilhelm Pfeffer, Karl Foerster, Vita Sackville-West, The Art of Edible Flowers by Rebecca Sullivan, and Luis Barragán


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Historical Events

1763 Birth of William Cobbett, English writer, Member of Parliament, and farmer. 

In Parliament, Frank fought for agrarian reform. He did this through his regular writings called Rural Rides, where he shared what he saw while taking horseback rides throughout rural England.

Wilhelm never forgot his rural roots, and he was a lifelong gardener.

He once wrote,

How much better during a long and dreary winter, for daughters, and even sons, to assist, or attend, their mother, in a green-house, than to be seated with her at cards, or, in the blubberings over a stupid novel, or at any other amusement that can possibly be conceived.

And he also wrote, 

If well-managed, nothing is more beautiful than the kitchen garden.


1845 Birth of Wilhelm Friedrich Philipp Pfeffer, German botanist and plant physiologist.

Wilhelm was born in his father's apothecary. He grew up and learned every aspect of the business, which had been in his family for generations. One of his childhood friends noted,

In those days, it was not yet customary to obtain drugs in cut and powdered form; thus, he spent hours cutting roots and herbs and pulverizing dried drugs with a heavy pestle in a mortar.

In addition to life at the A=apothecary, Wilhelm loved collecting plants in the Alps. His early study of plants and his natural curiosity set the stage for his in-depth plant experiments as an adult. In terms of plant physiology, he's remembered for the Pfeffer pot or pepper pot to measure osmotic pressure in plant cells.


1874 Birth of Karl Foerster, German plant breeder, writer, and garden designer.

When Karl turned 18, he took over his family's Berlin nursery, which was a bit of a mess. Karl quickly streamlined the business by simplifying his plant inventory.

Although Karl loved all plants, he was especially drawn to tough, low-maintenance, hardy perennials. Karl used three factors to determine whether a plant would be sold in his nursery: beauty, resilience, and endurance.

Today, Karl is most remembered in Karl Foerster Grass. The story goes that Karl was on a train when he spied the grass growing along the tracks. Karl frantically pulled the emergency brake, stopped the train, and quickly collected the specimen that now bears his name. In 2001, Karl Foerster grass was the Perennial Plant of the Year.

Karl's plant standards and his appreciation for low maintenance spaces with year-long seasonal interest helped shape the New German Garden Style of garden design.

A Karl Foerster garden had some signature plants: grasses, delphinium, and phlox. Naturally, all of these plants were favorites in Karl's breeding work.

Karl once wrote,

Grasses are the hair of mother earth.

And he also wrote,

A garden without phlox is not only a sheer mistake but a sin against summer.

Karl lived to the ripe old age of 96.
And looking back, it's staggering to think that Karl spent nearly nine decades gardening, and it was Karl Foerster who said,

In my next life, I’d like to be a gardener once again.
The job was too big for just one lifetime.


1892 Birth of Vita Sackville-West, English author and garden designer.

In 1930, Vita and her husband, the diplomat, and journalist Harold Nicolson, bought Sissinghurst Castle - at least what was left of it. Together, they restored the house and created the famous garden, which was given to the National Trust in 1967.

Vita explored the depths of her own creativity as she shaped the gardens at Sissinghurst. When she came up with the idea for a Sunset Garden, she wrote,

I used to call it the Sunset Garden in my own mind before I even planted it up.

Vita's Sunset Garden included flowers with warm citrus colors, like the yellows, oranges, and reds of Dahlia's Salvias Canas and tulips.

Vita also created a White Garden – one of the most difficult Gardens to design, maintain and pull off. Why is that? Well, the main reason is that, after flowering, most white blooms don't age well; they turn brown or yellow as they wither and die on the plant. But I have to say that ten years ago, I did help a friend install a white garden. And when it was in bloom, it really was spectacular.

During World War II, there came a point when Vita and Harold were convinced that a German invasion of Britain was likely. Vita planted 11,000 daffodils, a message of defiance to the enemy.

In 1955, Vita was honored with the Veitch Memorial Medal. She died seven years later in 1962.

She once wrote,

The waking bee, still drowsy on the wing,
Will sense the opening of another year
And blunder out to seek another spring.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

The Art of Edible Flowers by Rebecca Sullivan
This book came out in 2018, and the subtitle is Recipes and ideas for floral salads, drinks, desserts, and more.

This sweet little book is a fun little recipe book of the many ways flowers can be incorporated into drinks and edibles.

Recipes include a Rose and Lavender Cocktail Syrup, a Jasmine and Green Tea Ice Cream, Lavender and Orange Cheesecake, Pumpkin Carpaccio with Mustard Flower Sauce, Artichoke Flower with Borage Butter, Fermented Elderflower Fizz and a soothing Poppy Milk.

The recipes are simple, creative, and elegant.

This book is 80 pages of edible, beautiful, tasty blossoms.

You can get a copy of The Art of Edible Flowers by Rebecca Sullivan and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for $12.


Botanic Spark

1902 Birth of Luis Barragán, Mexican architect and engineer. In 1980, he won the Pritzker Prize, the highest award in architecture. In 1948 he designed and built his own home with cement after being inspired by local modernist architecture. In 2004, the Luis Barragan house was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In addition to architecture, Luis loved landscapes. He once wrote,

I don’t divide architecture, landscape and gardening; to me they are one.

And he also wrote,

A garden must combine the poetic and he mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy.


Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener

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

The Daily Gardener
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