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1898 On this day, The Lilies of the Valley Fabergé egg (books about this topic)was presented to the Russian Tsar Nicholas II. The egg was a gift for his wife, Empress Alexandra. Today the egg is kept in the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Lily of the valley, Convallaria majalis ("con-vah-LAIR-ee-ah mah-JAY-liss), is a woodland plant that flowers in the spring with sweetly scented, delicate, bell-shaped white flowers.
Despite its common name, Lily of the valley is in the asparagus family - not the lily family. It's not a lily at all.
The etymology of the Latin name "majalis" means "belonging to May," In addition to blooming in May, the Lily of the Valley is the birth flower for May. In France, Lily of the Valley Day is celebrated every May 1st.
In floriography, the Lily of the Valley represents good luck. The tiny blossoms are favorite for making perfume. Lily of the Valley is a favorite bridal flower and was included in the wedding bouquets of Queen Victoria, Princess Astrid of Sweden, Grace Kelly, and Kate Middleton.
Lily of the Valley thrives in cool growing zones - it cannot thrive in hot conditions.
1908 Birth of Ruth Elizabeth "Bette" Davis (books about this person), American actress. Her career spanned over five decades. She often played tough, unsympathetic characters.
As Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950), she said,
Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke.
1913 Birth of Anne Scott-James (books by this author), English author and pioneering journalist.
In 1934, Anne started out as a secretary at Vogue before rising through the ranks to become the Beauty Editor.
After a brilliant career in journalism - including stints at Harper's Bazaar and the Daily Mail - Anne became a garden writer. Her books included The Best Plants For Your Garden, The Pleasure Garden, Down to Earth, and Sissinghurst: The Making of a Garden.
Regarding Sissinghurst, Anne wrote,
Sissinghurst is the last cottage garden made on a grand scale, but fortunately, it does not mark the end of cottage gardening.
Both of Anne's children followed in her footsteps and ended up in journalism. Anne's daughter Clare Hastings also became a garden writer, and she is the author of Gardening Notes from a Late Bloomer. She also wrote a memoir of her mother released in 2020 called Hold the Front Page!: The Wit and Wisdom of Anne Scott-James.
It was Anne Scott-James who wrote,
However small your garden, you must provide for two of the serious gardener's necessities, a tool shed, and a compost heap.
To pick a flower is so much more satisfying than just observing it or photographing it ... So in later years, I have grown in my garden as many flowers as possible for children to pick.
2011 Death of Kim McDodge, American garden founder and artist.
In 1993, Kim used her inheritance to buy two parcels of land in the Sabin neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, near NE Fremont and 11th, called Ariadne Garden. Two years later, she donated the 100 x 100-foot plot to the Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust (OSALT). The Ariadne Garden became a volunteer-staffed, organic, urban farm selling blooms like peonies, roses, yarrow, lilies, gladiola, zinnias, and a diverse array of produce.
Kim designed the Hopi mother and child maze at Ariadne. It is a nod to the lore of Ariadne herself.
In Greek mythology, Ariadne (books about this topic) was a Cretan princess. She is remembered for helping Theseus escape the labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur with the help of a golden thread. Ariadne then became the wife of Dionysus.
In Jhan Hochman's beautiful tribute to Kim, he wrote,
Before the mortal Ariadne more famously enabled Theseus to kill the minotaur and escape the labyrinth, she was a Minoan vegetation goddess celebrated by rituals reflecting the death and revival of the vegetation she personified. Kim elegantly fused these two Ariadne’s in her garden-labyrinth, becoming remarkably Ariadne-like herself by showing the rest of us at least one way to kill the minotaur of corporate agriculture, thread our way out of the labyrinth of supermarket aisles, and find our way back to the mazing paths of an organic garden.
Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation
This book came out in 2020, and the subtitle is A Family Guide to Gardening Inside and Out.
I should mention that this book is by the RHS, and it is really fantastic as per usual for the RHS.
The goal here with this book was to put fun into gardening with this excellent family guide to help you make gardening a family affair.
Now, you know, it's hard to beat RHS books because they're so well put together, and of course, they're grounded in science — the latest science — so that's always a plus.
One of the reasons why you might want to consider getting this book is if you're working with students in your garden because this book is full of ideas and projects. Sometimes when you're thinking about working with kids, you just need some new ideas or some different activities that you can put together to keep them engaged and keep them learning and growing and excited about working in the garden. This book would be perfect for that.
This book is also is excellent for families with young kids. It is really all about trying to inspire young people, getting them growing. Thus the title.
Now there are all kinds of fun experiments in this book — things like working with rain, tracking rain, tracking shadows (something I had not read about before. I loved that idea.), and another fantastic idea is having kids make their own wormery. This is a little worm farm that they can put together in a jar very quickly, and it'll provide lots of entertainment and really teach them about what worms do and how they're so vital to soil health.
Now I also had to chuckle just a little bit because they feature one of my favorite activities that I've always done with kids, and that is making pesto together. I did this with my kids early on when they were in elementary school. I taught them how to use the food processor and cut garlic. To this day, they still love making pesto, and they associate that smell with being in the garden with me and cooking during the summer - and all season long - which is just such a joy. I'm so glad that I did that.
In any case, this book is loaded with lots of great ideas. It's step-by-step. It is impeccably illustrated. It is smart- and it's just an excellent current resource.
Holly Farrell, I just want to mention, also put together a book in 2013 called Planting Plans For Your Kitchen Garden: How to Create a Vegetable, Herb, and Fruit Garden in Easy Stages. She also did a really good book in 2015, called Plants from Pits - and that was a book that she did for the RHS.
So anyway, Holly is an experienced author, a great gardener, and passionate about getting kids excited about gardening.
This book is 176 pages of ideas and inspiration and projects and experiments and so forth - all about the garden and all about getting kids involved in gardening - to get growing.
1933 Birth of Barbara Holland, American author. She grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. She was witty and a bit of a rebel, defending vices like cursing, drinking, eating fatty food, and smoking cigarettes.
Barbara once quipped,
One's own flowers and some of one's own vegetables make acceptable, free, self-congratulatory gifts when visiting friends, though giving zucchini - or leaving it on the doorstep, ringing the bell, and running - is a social faux pas.
In Endangered Pleasures, Barbara wrote,
Poets and songwriters speak highly of spring as one of the great joys of life in the temperate zone, but in the real world, most of spring is disappointing.
We looked forward to it too long, and the spring we had in mind in February was warmer and dryer than the actual spring when it finally arrives.
We'd expected it to be a whole season, like winter, instead of a handful of separate moments and single afternoons.
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And remember: For a happy, healthy life, garden every day.