March 10, 2022 Georg Steller, Jean-Baptiste Le Blond, Joseph von Eichendorff, Ina Donna Coolbrith, The Botanist’s Daughter by Kayte Nunn, and the San Juan Botanical Garden


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Historical Events

1709 Birth of Georg Wilhelm Steller, German botanist, zoologist, physician, and explorer. Who worked in Russia and is considered a pioneer of Alaskan natural history.

In 1739, Georg joined the Danish cartographer and explorer Vitus Bering's Second Kamchatka Expedition sponsored by Russia. When their ship, St. Peter, landed in Alaska, Georg begged to explore Kayak Island. Bering granted him ten hours, making Georg one of the first foreigners to step foot on Alaskan soil.

Georg Steller is remembered for his naturalist work on this voyage in the names of many North American plants and animals, including the Steller's jay (related to the American Blue Jay) and the Steller's sea lion.

During the expedition, Georg Steller tried to persuade the crew to eat green leaves and berries he gathered on land to combat the scurvy that was becoming an epidemic on the ship. But the officers poo-pooed his suggestions on this matter. When only a dozen men were left standing to run the ship, they shipwrecked on an island where Bering and half the men died of scurvy. Georg and his assistant never suffered from scurvy, and they nursed the survivors back to health. The island they were stranded on until a new ship could be fashioned from salvaged parts in 1742 is now called Bering Island.


1719 Death of Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond, French architect and garden designer. When he died, he was the chief architect of Saint Petersburg. In his book, The Theory and Practice of Gardening (1712), he wrote,

A garden should always look bigger than it really is.


1788 Birth of Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff, German poet and writer.

In his Romantic novella, Memoir of a Good-for-Nothing (1826), a miller's son forges his own path and becomes a palace gardener in Vienna. There, he falls in love with the daughter of a duke. When he learns she was adopted, the two can be together without violating her royal status. Joseph wove his love of nature into all of his work. Thomas Mann wrote that Good-for-Nothing had both "the purity of the folk song and the fairy tale."

Here's an excerpt:

At last, the gardener arrived, mumbling something about rascals and country bumpkins, and took me out into the park, giving me a lengthy lecture as he did so.
I was instructed to be sober and industrious, and not to wander about aimlessly or waste my time in unproductive activities: if I heeded this counsel, he said, I might in time achieve something.
He gave me much other useful and well-phrased advice too, but I have since forgotten almost all of it.


1841 Birth of Ina Donna Coolbrith, American poet, writer, and librarian. She became known as the Sweet Singer of California for her beautiful poetry. A beloved member of the San Francisco Bay Area literary community, she was the first California Poet Laureate and the first poet laureate of any American state.

How many songs, O summer wind,
How many songs you know
Of fair, sweet things in your wanderings,
As over the earth you go.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

The Botanist's Daughter by Kayte Nunn
This book came out in 2019, and this is a fiction book.

The author Rosanna Ley says this about The Botanist's Daughter:

'The whole book is a delight... Perfect reading whilst sipping a g & t in a beautiful garden somewhere in the sun!' A buried secret...

This is a book about two women in two different centuries. 

In the present day: Anna is growing her new gardening business and renovating her late grandmother's house. But when she discovers botanical art, an old diary, and a handful of seeds hidden in a wall. The mystery will take her to Kew Gardens and then onto Cornwall in search of the truth.

The other woman is Elizabeth Trebithnick, and it is set in 1886. Elizabeth is determined to continue her father's work as a Plant Explorer, and she's looking for a specific rare plant that had eluded her father.

This book is a 400-page botanical mystery that answers this question: Can a mysterious flower somehow connect Anna and Elizabeth?

You can get a copy of The Botanist's Daughter by Kayte Nunn and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for $4.


Botanic Spark

1971 On this day, the San Juan Botanical Garden was inaugurated. The garden is part of the University of Puerto Rico,

The Botanic Garden features many themed exhibits of tropical and subtropical plants and a collection of modern sculptures. Special features of the garden include a garden of Brightly colored heliconias native to tropical Americas, a Bamboo Chapel in a feathery bamboo forest, an Orchid Garden, a Monet garden (inspired by Monet's aquatic garden in Giverny with its water lilies), a Palmetum featuring over 125 species of palms, and an Aquatic Garden that includes papyrus and red sealing wax palms.

In the aftermath of deadly hurricanes over the past decade, the San Juan Botanical Garden has developed a strategy to address plant loss from future storms: an iCloud for the garden. The garden has joined with other Botanic gardens and started backing up each other's collections. 

In terms of a botanic spark, this practice of backing up treasured specimens is something you can do with your own garden. Consider partnering with a fellow gardener or a neighbor and set up your own garden iCloud. 


Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener

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

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