July 14, 2022 Joseph Gaertner, Annette Wynne, Owen Wister, Tolpuddle Martyrs Sycamore tree, The Pottery Gardener by Arthur Parkinson, and Congressional Delegates visit Bartram’s Garden


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Historical Events

1791 Death of Joseph Gaertner, German botanist.

Joseph chaired the botany departments in Tübingen, Germany, and St. Petersburg, Russia.

He is remembered for his epoch-making masterpiece in two volumes on fruits and seeds (1788 and 1791). In this seminal work, Joseph described and drew the fruits and seeds of over a thousand species of plants. The book became an instant classic with an exhaustive compilation of general seed facts in addition to being a foundational guide to the morphology of fruits and seeds, which in turn greatly influenced the course of natural plant classification. 

Before Joseph, studying fruits and seeds had gone by the wayside for over a century. Joseph tackled the topic with relish. In 1778, Joseph went to 32 Soho Square in London, where Joseph Banks opened up the entire Endeavor collection for his taxonomic research on fruits and seeds. He was even permitted to review the exhibition archival documents and dissect original specimens with no backups. Joseph Banks even sent duplicate specimens back with Joseph Gaertner so he could continue his work at home. Thanks to Banks' generosity, Joseph was the first to classify Eucalyptus, and he was the first person to publish illustrations of banksias - the fruit collected by Banks in Australia.

Accounts of his work say that Gaertner studied seeds almost to the point of blindness. 

Today, Joseph's extensive collection of seeds and plant specimens, along with his microscope, are among some of the most priceless collections in the botanical garden where he worked. Joseph's carefully labeled little bottles filled with seeds are there as well. The famous German botanist Hugo von Mohl put them in bigger bottles for safe keeping, and then Hugo labeled the bigger bottles in his own handwriting. The samples, being double guarded by Joseph and Hugo, are an incredible artifact of botanical history.

In terms of his legacy, Joseph also named the plant genus Gazania after Theodore of Gaza, the man born in 1398 who translated the botanical works of Theophrastus from Greek to Latin. Gazania is a flower in the Asteraceae family. They are native to South Africa and look like large daisies with a dark color along the middle of each petal.


1852 Birth of Annette Wynne, American poet, writer, and teacher.

Annette wrote my favorite poem for June called Why Was June Made? 

Why was June made?—Can you guess?
June was made for happiness!
Even the trees
Know this, and the breeze
That loves to play
Outside all day,
And never is too bold or rough,
Like March's wind, but just a tiny blow's enough;
And all the fields know
This is so—
June was not made for wind and stress,
June was made for happiness;
Little happy daisy faces
Show it in the meadow places,
And they call out when I pass,
"Stay and play here in the grass."
June was made for happy things,
Boats and flowers, stars and wings,
Not for wind and stress,
June was made for happiness!


1860 Birth of Owen Wister, American writer, and historian.

Owen is remembered as the father of Western fiction. His most famous works include The Virginian and a biography of Ulysses S. Grant.

In The Virginian, Owen poetically wrote,

Has any botanist set down what the seed of love is?
Has it anywhere been set down in how many ways this seed may be sown?
In what various vessels of gossamer it can float across wide spaces?
Or upon what different soils it can fall, and live unknown, and bide its time for blooming?


2005 On this day, a Sycamore tree that sheltered the Tolpuddle Martyrs when they met in an attempt to form one of the world's first trade unions was finally carbon-dated.

The National Trust stated that the tree is around 320 years old. And so, on the day it provided shelter for the Martyrs in 1834, it would have already been 150 years old. 

Today, the Sycamore is still alive and cared for by the National Trust in the village of Tolpuddle in Dorset in the UK.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were six men who were all impoverished farm laborers. They were led by George Loveless, who wanted to use bargaining strength to increase their wages. Even though labor was legal then, the men were all arrested, tried, and deported to Australia. They were released in 1836.

Today an annual festival attended by thousands takes place in the village and is organized by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Nigel Costley of the South West TUC commented on the importance of the centuries-old Tolpuddle Sycamore.

The Tolpuddle Tree is one of the most famous trees in the country because it was under there that the Martyrs met - a move that led to their deportation, pardon, and ultimately the foundation of the trade union movement.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

The Pottery Gardener by Arthur Parkinson
This book came out in 2020, and the subtitle is Flowers And Hens At The Emma Bridgewater Factory.

Before he worked for Sarah Raven at Perch Hill in East Sussex, Arthur Parkinson trained at the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew. Today, he is the head gardener at the Emma Bridgewater Factory in Stoke-on-Trent - a tourist stop and pottery shop known for iconic designs featuring florals and farm animals. The garden has a walled garden that is home to vibrant flowers and rare-breed chickens. 

The publisher wrote this summary of this book:

In this beautiful book, the site’s gardener, florist and poultry keeper Arthur Parkinson descriptively and visually shares his work. Inspired by his friend and idol, gardener and florist Sarah Raven, and childhood hen-keeping pen pal the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.

Parkinson’s creation is one of resplendent flowers, platoon feather-legged hens, handwritten blackboards, flower arranging and wasteland foliage foraging carried out in one of the most unlikely places a garden could happen to exist: a working pottery.

With seasonal tips on container planting in your own garden, plant profiles and helpful guides to keeping fowl and arranging home-grown flowers, The Pottery Gardener is sure to delight gardeners, hen fanciers and Bridgewater fans alike.

This book is divided into four parts: The Gardener, The Emma Bridgewater Garden, Your Garden (Attracting Bees, Arranging Flowers, Keeping Poultry, Hens, Ducks), and Seasonal Plants and Jobs.

Here's how Emma Bridgewater introduces us to Arthur in the forward of this book.

When Arthur blew into Stoke-on-Trent to take in hand the neglected garden hidden away in our factory it was a happy day.

Despite his youthfulness, he brought huge botanical knowledge and [knew] how to put on a show in a garden...

...from early spring through to late autumn the factory garden is a rare and wonderful oasis - all the more thrilling because of its context in a rather beaten-up, grey cityscape.

The waves of colour rush in and out of the walled enclosure... there is never an off day and I know just about enough of gardening to recognise this is no small achievement.


Arthur introduces his garden at the Factory this way:

Behind a red-bricked wall and along a busy, long road is one small, unexpected garden a young garden, made up of raised flower beds, galvanised dustbins, cattle troughs, a henhouse and broody coops, and supported by two rooftop greenhouses, which are high up and out of view. The garden is set in what must be one of the most industrial urban places you could imagine.

Venetian-coloured blooms, a buzzing of bees and the hurried strut of hens are to be found here, surprisingly in great profusion. All of this life and rich beauty is accessed via a little corridor attached to a shop filled with mugs, plates, bowls and tea towels. These all lovingly display fowl and flowers on them. How unique, to have their real-life influences growing and clucking just metres away from the shelves on which they sit.

This book is about the walled garden located at the working British pottery that is the Emma Bridgewater Factory in Stoke-on-Trent and how I came to be its gardener.


This book is 224 pages of Arthur Parkinson's beautiful world as head gardener at The Emma Bridgewater Factory - a working pottery.

You can get a copy of The Pottery Gardener by Arthur Parkinson and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for around $15.


Botanic Spark

1787 On this day, very early in the morning, a group of delegates, including Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, set out to visit the Gray's Ferry garden of the Quaker botanist John Bartram.

Manasseh Cutler later described the garden this way:

This is a very ancient garden, and the collection is large indeed…
It is finely situated, as it partakes of every kind of soil, has a fine stream of water, and an artificial pond, where he has a good collection of aquatic plants.…

George Washington himself had visited the garden a month earlier. He had bought some trees and plants but noted that the garden "was not laid out with much taste." Indeed the garden was not laid out for beauty but commerce. The Bartrams cultivated plants for sale and were not as concerned with ornamentation.

Thomas Jefferson was also a customer.

As America's first botanist, Bartram was the first person to collect trees and shrubs from all thirteen states. John had also developed a robust plant exchange with England and with colonial America's aristocratic families who wanted gardens on this side of the pond. The Bartram estate originally covered 100 acres, but today, the house, outbuildings, and trails extend a little less than half the original footprint - coming in at 45 acres. 

Although John had passed away a decade earlier, Bartram's garden's reputation and extensive range of native plants were well known. The Bartram garden stayed in the family and was overseen by his sons, John and William.

Only Reverand Manassah Cutler had made arrangements to visit the garden on his two-day whirlwind trip to Philadelphia. But Manassah had a magnetic personality, and when the other delegates learned of the trip, they leaped at the chance to join him. It was a stunned William Bartram who greeted the delegates that day.

The party departed in carriages at 5 am. They rode just four miles and crossed the Schuylkill River by ferry to the garden situated along the west bank. They startled poor William Bartram, who was already working outside, with the sudden appearance of half a dozen founding fathers, including NAMES. Benjamin Franklin was too ill to attend, but he would have enjoyed seeing the tree named in his honor, The Franklin Tree, or the Franklinia alatamaha. William Bartram is credited with saving the tree from extinction, and today, all Franklinias are descended from
the trees are grown in the Bartram nursery. 

In Andrea Wulff's book, Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature and the
Shaping of the American Nation, she noted how the effect of the garden was not lost on the delegates that morning. Andrea wrote,

The delegates could see how the manifold flora of each state thrived together, their branches intertwined in a flourishing horticultural union.

It can only be speculation that a three-hour walk on a cool summer morning among America's most glorious trees and shrubs influenced these men.

But what we do know is that the three men who changed sides and made the Great Compromise possible that day had all been there and marveled at what they saw.


Two days after the men visited Bartram's garden that fateful day 235 years ago, they sealed the deal on the bicameral standard for Congress. The great compromise ended the deadlock on how representation would be established.

Benjamin Franklin left his sickbed to urge that the Constitution be adopted in a united manner to garner support from the country. 

As the convention closed, a woman asked what sort of government the new country would have - a monarchy or a republic?

History records that Franklin responded,

A republic, madam, if you can keep it.


And to think it was formed with a bit of help from a garden...


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

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