May 16, 2022 Cinchona and the Countess of Cinchon, Martha Ballard, Jacob Ritner, Munstead Wood, The Secret Garden Cookbook by Amy Cotler, and H.E. Bates


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Historical Events

1735 On this day, a French expedition made the first attempt to transport cinchona trees to Europe.

The scientist Charles Marie de La Condamine was the first man to describe the Cinchona tree, the scientist Charles Marie de La Condamine, was on the expedition along with the botanist Joseph de Jussieu.

Their mission was to add the trees to a Paris collection, but sadly the trees were lost when they were washed overboard.

Once Europe learned of the power of the Cinchona tree, they were eager to get their hands on the bark.

Cinchona's name was in honor of a Spanish Countess named Ana, and her second marriage was to the Count of Chinchon.

After the Count was given the job of serving as the viceroy of Peru, a station that oversaw the entire continent of South America, except for Brazil, the couple arrived in Lima in 1629.
The following year, the Countess grew gravely ill with tertian ague. She suffered a fever that occurred every other day, the Governor of Loxa, Don Francisco Lopez de Canizares, sent over a life-saving parcel of cinchona bark. With the cinchona powder, the Countess made a rapid recovery.
Eleven years later, when the Count and Countess began their return trip to Spain, they brought along a precious supply of the curative Quina bark for use with their people. They also hoped to introduce cinchona medicine to the rest of Europe.
Sadly, Ana died during the long voyage home in Cartegena in December 1639. But Ana's legacy lives on in the medicine we know today as quinine. After her husband, the Count returned to Spain, the medicinal Quina bark powder became known as Pulvis Comitissa in honor of the Countess. And over 100 years later, Linneaus named the genus Cinchona in honor of the Countess of Chinchon in 1742. Linneaus should have called it Chinchona, but he forgot the "h."

1809 On this day, the herbalist and midwife Martha Ballard worked in the raised beds in her garden and recorded her annual spring gardening efforts.

For 27 years, Martha kept a journal of her work as a gardener, town healer, and midwife for Hallowell, Maine. 

Today, Martha’s great journal gives us a glimpse into the plants she regularly used and how she applied them medicinally. As for how Martha sourced her plants, she raised them in her garden or foraged them in the wild. As the village apothecary, Martha found her own ingredients and made all of her herbal remedies personally. As a midwife, Martha assisted with 816 births.

In May of 1809, Martha worked in the gardens surrounding her house. She sowed, set, planted, and transplanted. 

On May 15, she planted squash, cucumbers, muskmelons, and watermelons. And on this day, May 16, she sowed string peas at the end of her garden.

In Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's work, The Life of Martha Ballard, she writes,

Martha's was an ordinary garden, a factory for food and medicine that incidentally provided nourishment to the soul.

"I have workt in my gardin," she wrote on May 17, the possessive pronoun the only hint of the sense of ownership she felt in her work. The garden was hers, though her husband or son or the Hallowell and Augusta Bank owned the land.

"I have squash and Cucumbers come up in the bed [on the] east side the house," she wrote on May 22.

The garden was hers because she turned the soil, dropped the seeds, and each year recorded in her diary, as though it had never happened before, the recurring miracle of spring.


1861 On this day, Union Captain Jacob Ritner wrote back to his wife, Emeline.

Jacob and Emeline exchanged marvelous letters throughout the Civil War that depicted their heroic lives on both the battlefield and homefront.

While Jacob wrote with the tragic news of war, Emeline kept him apprised of their four small children and the challenges of maintaining the family farm. Emeline's news from home kept Jacob sane and anchored to the happier reality that awaited him after the war. Emeline often wrote about the garden and the landscape, proving that even news of a faraway garden can be anchoring and grounding amid hardship.

And so, on this day back in 1861, Jacob wrote in his letter,

Now Emeline dear, you must write me a great long letter next Sunday.
Tell me all the news, how the trees grow, the garden and grass, what everybody says...


1918 On this day, the rose season began at Munstead Wood, the Arts and Crafts style home and surrounding gardens in Surrey, England, created by garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.

Munstead Wood became famous thanks to Gertrude's books and articles in magazines like Country Life. Gertrude lived at Munstead Wood from 1897 to 1932.

Volume 82 of The Garden celebrated the first rose to open at Munstead Wood on this day by reporting,

The rose season begins. The opening the first Rose is always a source of delight. The first we have seen in the open this year was the pink Rosa rugosa at Munstead Wood on May 16. This is one of the oldest garden roses and is said to have been cultivated since 1100 A.D. in China, where the ladies of the Court prepared a kind of potpourri from its petals, gathered on a fine day, and mixed with Camphor and Musk.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

The Secret Garden Cookbook by Amy Cotler
This book came out in 2020, and the subtitle is Inspiring Recipes from the Magical World of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden.

If you've been listening to the show, I've been on a little bit of a cookbook kick lately, and cookbooks tied to literature. So this is continuing in that same vein with this great book called The Secret Garden Cookbook by Amy Kotler.

Amy is a professional chef, caterer, and cooking-school teacher - and if you're a cookbook lover, you will truly appreciate her background in the kitchen.

When this book came out, people were going crazy for the Toffee Pudding recipe that you can find on page 32. So that's just a little heads up.

If you're a gardener, I'll point out that right at the beginning of the book is a beautiful picture of the Francis Hodgson Burnett Memorial Fountain. It's both a statue and a tranquil fountain filled with lily pads that depicts Mary and Dickon from The Secret Garden. It's located in Central Park in New York City, and it's just a gorgeous photo of this Memorial.

Here's how Amy introduces us to The Secret Garden and the magic of food:

She writes,

Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden is about the magic of making things come alive. Mary, Colin, and Dickon all help the forgotten secret garden to grow again. ButMary and Colin come alive, too, through hard work, friendship, and good, nourishing food.

When Mary Lennox first arrives atMisselthwaite Manor from India, she is thin,sallow, and unhealthy looking. But as she goes outside, skips rope, and works in the garden, her appetite grows. Colin, too, is sickly until he learns the secret of the garden. By the end of the novel, he is enjoying food as much as Mary. Pails of fresh milk, dough cakes with brown sugar, hearty porridge, fire-roasted potatoes-Mary, and Colin can't get enough of them!

The children of The Secret Garden grew up during the reign of Queen Victoria... commonly known as the Victorian era.

In those days, food took a long time to cook and serve. 

Even Mrs. Sowerby, Dickon's mother, though she must feed fourteen people, manages to find a little extra food for Mary and Colin when they experience the joys of eating.


And that's what this book is all about; a hardy appreciation of good food.

This book is 112 pages of fifty recipes inspired by The Secret Garden, and they're all updated for the modern kitchen and appeal to today's tastes.

You can get a copy of The Secret Garden Cookbook, Newly Revised Edition by Amy Cotler, and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for around $10.


Botanic Spark

1905 Birth of Herbert Ernest Bates (pen name H. E. Bates) English author.

He once wrote,

The true gardener, like an artist, is never satisfied.


H.E. is remembered for his books, Love for Lydia (1952), The Darling Buds of May (1958), and My Uncle Silas (1939). The Darling Buds of May inspired a TV series in the 1990s.

In his book, A Love of Flowers (1971), H.E. wrote,

It is wonderful to think that one of the few unbroken links between the civilization of ancient Egypt and the civilization of today is the garden.

And he also wrote,

​​Gardens… should be like lovely, well-shaped girls: all curves, secret corners, unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves.


Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener

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

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