May 20, 2022 National Pick Strawberries Day, Ludwig Leichhardt, Tulips by Joseph Breck, Pi Beta Ph spring party, Cuke Season in Blackville, Garden Maker by Christie Purifoy, and Dahlia Facts



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Historical Events

National Pick Strawberries Day

Here are a few fun facts about this beloved sweet fruit:

The etymology of the name strawberry (books about this topic) is likely a corruption of the phrase "strewn berry." This would reference the way the plant produced thanks prolifically to runners, resulting in berries strewn about the ground.

Fragariaphobia is a little-known word and is the fear of strawberries.

In terms of their uniqueness, strawberries are the only fruit that wears its seeds on the outside, and the average strawberry has 200 seeds.

Strawberries are perennial and are members of the rose family. The strawberry flower averages five to seven petals.

In terms of harvesting, strawberry plants are hand-picked about every three days. A single acre of land can grow almost 50,000 pounds of strawberries.

California produces a billion pounds of strawberries every year which means that 75% of the American strawberry crop is grown in California - with Florida and North Carolina in the 2nd and 3rd place.

As for strawberry quotes, the author Tsugumi Ohba, Death Note Box Set, wrote,

If you keep my secret, this strawberry is yours.


1846 On this day, the Prussian botanist Ludwig Leichhardt (books about this person) wrote a letter to a fellow botanist about his impressive and arduous collecting efforts in Australia.

For his part, Ludwig loved Australia. He wrote,

I would find it hard to remain in Germany, or even in Europe, now. I [prefer] the clear, sunny skies of Australia.

On this day, 1846, Leichhardt wrote a letter to his botanist contact and friend, the Italian Gaetano Durando, living in Paris. Ludwig's message conveys the extreme difficulties and dangers faced by the early plant explorers.

He wrote,

My dear friend,
You have, no doubt, noticed and regretted my long silence...
But you must bear this in mind, my good friend, ...
it was not my lot to travel all at my ease...
Gladly would I have made drawings of my plants, and noted fully all particulars of the different species which I saw; and how valuable would such memoranda have been... [as] four of my pack-horses having been drowned.
Botanical and geological specimens thus abandoned — how disappointing! From four to five thousand plants were thus sacrificed...

In the spring of 1848, Ludwig Leichhardt and a small group of explorers began what was to be a two- to three-year expedition across Australia. Shortly after starting the trek, the entire party vanished with barely a trace.

Still known as the 'Prince of Explorers,' Leichhardt was 35 when he was lost to time. 


1858 On this day, in The Flower Garden, Or Breck's Book of Flowers, Tulips at their peak per Joseph Breck

A bed of late tulips is generally in its highest perfection about the 20th of May and may be kept in fine condition a fortnight longer, taking the trouble to erect an awning over them.

I take up my Tulips about the 20th of June, and dry them undercover in an airy place, and, when dry, take off the offsets and plant them out, while the flowering roots are each wrapped in a piece of waste paper, and put away, in a box or drawer, in a dry place, until wanted to plant.

One hundred different varieties, with their names and colors, reputed to be the very best, mabe obtained from Holland, at the cost of about $25; but I have found, by experience, that some of the rarer and most expensive sorts are not included. Very good border Tulips, including finedouble sorts, early and late, single, parrots, etc, may be obtained from 50 cents to $1 per dozen, and some of the common sorts at much less price.


So there is some tulip pricing for you courtesy of Joseph Breck back in 1858.

And just for comparison, I went out to and priced some of their deluxe tulips. They sell eight tulips for $15.



On this day, the sorority of Pi Beta Phi at West Virginia University held a party to celebrate the arrival of spring. In a report of their activities to the 1922 edition of The Arrow, the chapter wrote,

The spring party comes on May 20. It will be a Japanese party, with lanterns, spring blossoms, and wooden programs.


Present Day

On or around this day in Blackville, South Carolina, that Cuke Season gets underway. 

The Encyclopedia of South Carolina (2000) says this about Blackville: 

Named for Alexander Black, an early railroad executive who shipped cantaloupes, watermelons, and cucumbers in large quantities by rail.

During the "cuke" season, beginning about May 20, the town council employs an auctioneer to conduct daily sales, generally starting at 10 in the morning and frequently lasting until 6. At the auction, growers may accept or refuse the offered prices. Buyers are usually local produce merchants, though there are often purchasers from markets out of state.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

Garden Maker by Christie Purifoy

This book came out in January of 2022, and the subtitle is Growing a Life of Beauty and Wonder with Flowers.

This is Christie's third book, and her books have to do with beauty and placemaking, sustainability, and love.

Her first book is Roots and Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons. This book is about purchasing her beautiful property called Maplehearst in Pennsylvania.

Her second book was released in 2019 and is called Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace, and this is about creating a garden home for yourself.

I view her latest book Garden Maker as part of this garden trilogy.

In this very spiritual and inspirational book, Christie walks us through how to grow a beautiful garden and create your own little slice of heaven here on earth.

Now, in addition to teaching you how to make a garden. Christie is a cut flower expert, and she's a master at creating beautiful bouquets and other arrangements.

In this book, Christie teaches you some of her tried and true techniques and her easiest bouquet recipes.

In addition to sharing her list of favorite shrubs - she calls these superhero shrubs. She also shares her favorite flowers - she calls these flowers of importance. And then last but not least, her favorite self-sowers in a section she calls self-sowing salvation.  

Now Christie is a lyrical writer. Her tone is super friendly and personable. When I read one of her books, I always feel like I'm reading something that a garden friend wrote for me.

But best of all, and I think more important than any of her credentials, is her passion for plants and the garden because that comes through loud and clear in every word she writes in this book.

I wanted to end this review today with a little excerpt from what Christie wrote in the introduction to Garden Maker.

She writes,

I grow flowers because cannot help myself.
I grow flowers as if some magician at the center of the universe has cast his spell on me, and I will never want my old unenchanted life back again.

In my flower garden, I am the weaver of stories. In my flower garden, am the composer of seasonal songs. Or maybe I am more conductor than composer.

This garden of mine is certainly singing a song, but the song delights me, moves me, and surprises me.

I cannot recommend flower gardening for the sober-minded.

I cannot recommend it for those afraid of mysterious rabbit holes, who prefer to keep their two feet fixed firmly to a clean and solid, and entirely predictable floor.

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend intoxicating moonflowers or romantic roses
to anyone who values utility and efficiency and productivity above all.

But for those who read fairy tales or cry at arias, for those who suspect that
heaven lies just behind the veil of this everyday world, well, to those I say:

Welcome to the garden.
Welcome to this holy work.
I understand if you are afraid.
The thorns are knife-sharp, and the weeds are always waging their quiet wars.
But here is the promise that has been made to each one of us:

"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy" (Psalm 126:5).

Every garden is singing a song for the One who made us, and we are invited to sing along.


Beautiful verse.

And by the way, can you tell that Christie has a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Chicago?

Yes, you can. She's a beautiful writer.

This book is 208 pages of a love letter to flowers, plants, gardens, and garden making.

You can get a copy of Garden Maker by Christie Purifoy and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for around $16.


Botanic Spark

1804 On this day, Lady Holland sent home a parcel of seeds from Spain,  and they were Dahlia seeds.

The story was shared in The Complete Dictionary of Practical Gardening (1807):

In the spring of 1805 all the parcels of seed were sewn, including four varieties of Dahlia.

The Dahlia Rosea was the most handsome and produced plenty of seeds.

And all the plants of 1805, except one, were taken up before Christmas and planted in pots or large pans.

They were kept in a very cold greenhouse, and they began to push new shoots in the middle of April [the following year].


The genus Dahlia (books about this flower) got its name in the 18th century. Swedish botanist Andreas Dahl.

Surprisingly after Lady Holland introduced Dahlias to Europe, many top gardeners thought the Dahlia was just too flamboyant to use in their gardens.

But in modern gardens, Dahlias are beloved.

Both the roots and the Dahlia flowers are used medicinally.

The Dahlia is also the official flower of both Seattle and San Francisco.

And if you're planning a wedding, Dahlias are the perfect flower for the bridal bouquet.

In floriography or the language of flowers, the beautiful Dahlia represents commitment and everlasting love.


Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener

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

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