March 24, 2022 Mark Catesby, Joseph Priestley, William Morris, Reflections of Paradise by Gordon Taylor, and Kreider Nurseries World’s Fair Garden


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Historical Events

1682 Baptism of Mark Catesby, English naturalist, adventurer, explorer, and artist.

Mark made two trips to the new world when America was still a British colony. On his second trip, he explored the lower southeastern corner of the United States.

After returning to England, he published his masterpiece, the very first account of flora and fauna of North America, in two large folios called The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands. Mark provided the text and the outstanding illustrations. He also offered an overview of the climate, soil, water, and any crops that were grown.

Mark was a superb nature artist. He depicted birds and plants together, something only a handful of artists did at the time. Maria Sybilla Merian did that, and like Maria, once you've seen Mark's work, you never forget it.

Mark also painted living subjects, which made his depictions more lifelike. Mark's botanical illustrations showed both the fruit and the flower of a plant in a single image. And when you consider the fact that Mark paired his art with the text in two languages - English and French - to market this content to his audience, Mark Catesby's genius and dedication really become apparent.

In Mark's book, the first plant he dedicated an entire page to was the Magnolia, and he also included a full page of text. Magnolias are one of the planet's earliest flowering plants, and as such, they existed before bees. Now for gardeners, this is an important clue about how Magnolias reproduce, which explains why magnolias rely on beetle pollination. Magnolia blossoms do not produce nectar. Instead, they produce pollen, and that pollen is food for the beetles. In terms of uses, in Chinese medicine, the bark of the Magnolia has been used to treat respiratory illness and anxiety.


1733 Birth of Joseph Priestley FRS, English chemist, polymath, author, and minister.

Joseph conducted many experiments while he tutored the sons of American sympathizer William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, at Bowood House in Wiltshire, England. In one of his experiments, he put a mouse and a mint plant in a bell jar. Without the mint, the mouse died, but the mouse survived with a plant inside the jar. This laid the foundation for the study of ecosystems.

Joseph also wrote the first comprehensive study of the history of electricity, invented carbonated water, created the first timeline, and discovered laughing gas. He also revealed a practical use for vegetable gum: it could remove pencil marks from paper, becoming known as the eraser.


1834 Birth of William Morris, British textile designer, poet, writer, and socialist activist. 

Born in 1834 to a wealthy family, William was the leading figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement. As a designer, William Morris remains widespread, and his designs are based on nature. Trees and plants figure prominently in his designs and patterns. Many of his designs feature the flowers that bloomed in his own garden, and among his favorites were honeysuckle, rose, acanthus, tulips, and chrysanthemums.

Although he was not a fan of geraniums and once wrote,

Red geraniums were invented to show that even a flower could be hideous.

The first Morris wallpaper was 'Trellis' (1862) and was based on a rose trellis in his garden in Kent. William found inspiration in England's gardens and countryside. His most iconic designs include Larkspur (1872), Jasmine (1872), Willow (1874), Marigold (1875), Wreath (1876), and Chrysanthemum (1887).

And William's poems are clever and offer a glimpse of his personality.

In 1888, William created his design for 'Autumn Leaves' 1888 and a seasonal poem 'Autumn':

'Laden Autumn here I stand
Worn of heart, and weak of hand:
Nought but rest seems good to me,
Speak the word that sets me free'


In 1890, William designed his first tapestry, which depicts four medical women holding a banner with the words of an original poem by morris. The poem celebrates the orchard in every season, from the bounty of the harvest to the promise of spring.

Midst bitten mead and acre shorn,
The world without is waste and worn,

But here within our orchard-close,
The guerdon of its labour shows.

O valiant Earth, O happy year
That mocks the threat of winter near,

And hangs aloft from tree to tree
The banners of the Spring to be.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

Reflections of Paradise by Gordon Taylor
This book came out in 2020, and the subtitle is The Gardens of Fernando Caruncho.

Every time I think about this particular book, I regret the fact that it was released during the pandemic, as I believe it would've gotten so much more attention had it been released just a year earlier, in September of 2019.

But that said, people, are still discovering the magnificent gardens created by Fernando Caruncho. Fernando is a Spanish landscape designer, and he has been designing gardens for over four decades. His gardens are all over the world, and they include elements from zen gardens, Islamic gardens, and classical European gardens.

Fernando is very sensitive to scale in gardens, the amount of light in a garden, and how light can impact garden design. He's also a massive fan of using local materials- not shipping in a bunch of different stone and elements from far-flung places around the globe. Fernando is all about looking to the region, to the location to determine what beautiful elements should be incorporated into his garden.

In this book, Reflections of Paradise, Gordon Taylor is profiling 26 Fernando Caruncho projects, and these gardens run the gamut from largest states to private little spaces. You will see an incredible vineyard in Italy. You'll see a private garden in France. There's a magnificent estate in New Jersey.

That's how it is with Fernando Caruncho because once you know about him and once you've seen some of his gardens, he is just going to pop up everywhere in your life.

In any case, this book features unique environments that are landscape-focused that are designed to perfection, and that are unmistakably Fernando Caruncho's creations.

This bookcase is 304 pages of 26 Incredible gardens designed by Fernando Caruncho. (And the cover is extraordinary too, I might add.)

You can get a copy of Reflections of Paradise by Gordon Taylor and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for around $29.


Botanic Spark

1993 On this day, 2.4 acres of the Krider Display garden were donated to the town of Middlebury, Indiana. The garden was formally dedicated two years later and is formally known as Krider Nurseries World's Fair Garden, a garden park.

Kreider Nurseries' origins date back to 1896, when Vernon Krider supplemented his teaching income by planting berries on thirty acres of land. A decade later, he quit his teaching job to start his nursery. The nursery had grown to over 500 acres when the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago looked for a nursery to set up display gardens. Vernon signed onto the project but had no way of knowing how the World's Fair would change his business.

Kreider gardens set up many different display gardens at the fair in the horticulture building. The gardens represented gardens worldwide; there was a Japanese garden, a Dutch garden with a windmill, etc. The gardens got a lot of attention, and visitors happily shared their contact information to receive the Kreider nursery catalog. Vernon had over 370,000 names and addresses for his catalog by the end of the expo. 

The old saying "the money is in the list" proved true for Krider Nurseries, and they became the largest mail-order nursery business in the U.S almost overnight. Soon, there were many mail-order requests that the Middlebury post office had to be redesigned to handle the volume. At one point, Kreider Nurseries was the largest employer in Middlebury.

In 1946, in an attempt to keep growing, Kreider Nurseries spent $11,000 on a patent for a thornless rose dubbed "Festival." It was the most amount of money ever paid by a single nursery for a patent - and they had to learn to cultivate it all on their own.

Another Kreider claim to fame was that the nursery provided all the roses for Tricia Nixon's wedding.

Despite their successes, Kreider's business declined in the 1980s. By 1990, Kreider Nursery closed for good - almost 100 years after Vernon's humble start.

Today the Kreider Nursery legacy is the Kreider Garden - lovingly restored and maintained by the Middlebury community since 1995. The garden pays homage to the display that Krider Nurseries created for the Chicago World's Fair - complete with the original Dutch windmill and the giant toadstool sculptures that were a hit with the crowds back in 1933-1934, as well as new elements like the ever-changing Quilt Garden, is one of several Quilt Gardens in Northern Indiana Amish Country. 


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

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