May 17, 2022 Sandro Botticelli, Montreal, Robert Tannahill, Elvin Charles Stakman, 150 Gardens You Need To Visit Before You Die by Stefanie Waldek, and Louisa Yeomans King on Peony Pruning


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Historical Events

1510 Death of Sandro Botticelli, Italian Renaissance master.
His painting Allegory of Abundance or Autumn is one of his most elaborate and detailed drawings, and it depicts an abundance of flowers and fruits.

Sandro painted idyllic garden scenes filled with beautiful women and men from the classical period.

His painting, Primavera, depicts nine springtime gods and goddesses from classical mythology in a garden. Venus, the goddess of love, presides over the Garden of the Hesperides. To her right, Flora, the goddess of flowers, sprinkles roses. The garden features orange and laurel trees and dozens of other species of plants.


1642 On this day, Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, French military officer, catches his first glimpse of Montreal's landscape.

He is recognized as the founder of Fort Ville-Marie (modern-day Montreal) in New France (Province of Quebec, Canada).

In George Waldo Browne's 1905 book, The St. Lawrence River: Historical, Legendary, Picturesque, he wrote,

On the 17th of May, the rounded slopes of Mount Royal, clad in the delicate green foliage of spring, burst into sight, stirring the hearts of the anxious beholders with newfound joy. They were delighted with the scenery. The fragrance of the springing forest permeated the balmy air, and, what was dearer far to them, over the water and over the landscape, rested an air of peace quite in keeping with their pious purpose.

Maisonneuve was the first to step upon the land, and as the others followed him... they fell upon their knees, sending up their songs of praise and thanksgiving. Their first work was to erect an altar at a favorable spot within sight and sound of the riverbank, the women decorating the rough woodwork with some of the wildflowers growing in abundance upon the island, until the whole, looked very beautiful.

Then every member of the party... knelt in solemn silence while M. Barthelemy Vimont... performed ...high mass. As he closed, he addressed his little congregation with these prophetic words:

You are a grain of mustard seed that shall rise and grow till its branches overshadow the earth.


1810 Death of Robert Tannahill, Scottish poet, and lyricist.

Remembered as the 'Weaver Poet,' Robert was born in Paisley and is often hailed as Paisley’s own Robert Burns, as his work is said to rival Robert Burns. 

Today in Paisley, a stunning 50ft high mural of a young Robert Tannahill was painted by Mark Worst, collaborating with Paisley Housing Association. The mural overlooks where Robert Tannahill was born on Castle Street in 1774.

One of Robert's most beloved songs is Will Ye Go Lassie, Go. The lyrics mention picking Wild Mountain Thyme, a plant known botanically as Thymus serpyllum (TY-mus sir-PIE-lum).

Wild Mountain Thyme is a showy, wide growing groundcover from the Old World and has beautiful rose-red flowers and glossy deep green, mat-forming foliage. In the song, the thyme has grown in and around the heather.

O the summer time has come
And the trees are sweetly bloomin'
The wild mountain thyme
Grows around the bloomin' heather
Will ye go, lassie, go?

And we'll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the bloomin' heather
Will ye go, lassie, go?


1885 Birth of Elvin Charles Stakman, American plant pathologist.

Elvin is remembered for his work identifying and combatting diseases in wheat.

In 1917, he married fellow a  plant pathologist named Estelle Louise Jensen. He also encouraged Norman Borlaug to pursue his career in phytopathology after Norman's job at the Forest Service was eliminated due to budget cuts. Elvin was Norman's teacher. And Norman went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize (1970) after discovering dwarf wheat varieties that reduced famine in India, Pakistan, and other third world countries.

In 1938, Elvin gave a speech entitled These Shifty Little Enemies that Destroy our Food Crops. During his talk, Elvin focused on one shifty little enemy in particular: rust. Rust is a parasitic fungus that feeds on phytonutrients in grain crops like wheat, oat, and barley.

Today, Elvin is remembered with the naming of Stakman Hall - the building where Plant Pathology is taught - at the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus. 

In The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow's World, Charles Mann reflected,

Stakman did not view science as a disinterested quest for knowledge. It was a tool—may be the tool—for human betterment. Not all sciences were equally valuable, as he liked to explain. “Botany,” he said, “is the most important of all sciences, and plant pathology is one of its most essential branches.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

150 Gardens You Need To Visit Before You Die by Stefanie Waldek
This book came out in 2022.

Stefanie writes in her introduction:

In 150 Gardens You Need to Visit Before You Die, I've shared a vast range of gardens, from immense botanical institutions with thousands of specimens, to smaller plots for quiet meditations, to museums that combine both artworks and plantings. I hope these brief introductions inspire you to plan a visit or two, whether in your hometown or on your global travels, so that you can enjoy the sights, smells, sounds, and stories of the world's best gardens.


The publisher writes:

From Kew Gardens in London to the Singapore Botanical Gardens, and from Monet's garden at Giverny to the Zen garden of the Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto, this handsomely bound book captures in words and images the most notable features of these 150 glorious, not-to-be-missed gardens. An essential bucket list book for garden lovers!

You can get a copy of 150 Gardens You Need To Visit Before You Die by Stefanie Waldek and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes.


Botanic Spark

1905 On this day, Louisa Yeomans King wrote in her garden journal about peonies. She published a year's worth of entries in her book, The Flower Garden Day by Day. 

In 1902, Louisa and her husband moved to Michigan, where they built a home called Orchard House. With the help of a gardener named Frank Ackney, Louisa began to plan and create her garden. She also began writing about her Gardens. Soon, she gave lectures, contributed pieces to magazines, wrote columns, and organized garden clubs. She even became friends with prominent gardeners of her time like Gertrude Jekyll, Charles Sprague Sargent, and the landscape architects Fletcher Steele and Ellen Biddle Shipman.

Louisa learned to garden during the heyday of American Garden Culture. Her garden writing in newspaper columns and magazine publications made her the most widely read American Garden author in the United States.
Louisa's first book, "The Well-Considered Garden," the preface was written by her dear friend Gertrude Jekyll. In 1915, when the book debuted, it was considered an instant classic in garden literature. Louisa would go on to write a total of nine books.
The garden estate known as Blithewold has a copy of "The Well-Considered Garden." Their particular text also contains a handwritten inscription along with Louisa's signature. The inscription borrows a quote from Sir William Temple, who said,

"Gardening is an enjoyment and a possession for which no man is too high or too low."

Louisa changed the quote and wrote,
"Gardening is an enjoyment and a possession for which no woman is too high or too low."

Louisa helped start the Garden Club of America and the Women's National Farm and Garden Association. She held leadership positions in both organizations.
When her husband died suddenly in 1927, Louisa was forced to sell Orchard House. She moved to Hartford, New York, and bought a property she called Kingstree. This time, she set up a smaller garden. The size meant less work, which accommodated her writing and speaking commitments better.

On this day, Louisa wrote in her journal this note of advice about the Peony:

May 17. Disbud most of your peonies now; that is, of a cluster of buds, cut off all but the larger central one. Certain varieties, however, are considered more beautiful if left alone to flower as they will. Among these are Alsace Lorraine and La Rosiere.


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