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1905 On this day, Louisa Yeoman's King wrote in her diary for The Flower Garden Day by Day.
Plant gladioli now for late bloom.
Even if frosts come early, these can be covered lightly and will provide beauty far into Pendleton September.
Try Mrs. Frank planted in rather thick but informal among a tall annual ageratum groups.
Also grow Mrs. F. C. Peters, Pink Wonder, Prince of India, Jack London, and other lovely sorts too numerous to be named here.
1929 Birth of Ursula Askham Fanthorpe, English poet. She was published as U. A. Fanthorpe.
Ursula was the Principal of Cheltenham Ladies College for sixteen years. She was made CBE for services to Poetry.
Ursula's best-loved poem, Atlas, celebrated the unglamorous aspects of daily love. Ursula wrote the poem to honor her life partner, Rosie Bailey.
Here's an excerpt from the beginning of Atlas.
There is a kind of love called maintenance,
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;
Which checks the insurance, and doesn't forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;
Ursula was clever. Gardeners often give props to the garden for helping them solve a problem. For Ursula the solution was much simpler: go upstairs.
When you're stuck, go upstairs or, if you've got a hill handy, go up a hill.
The actual motion of going up a hill or going upstairs seems to dislodge whatever it is that's got in the way.
Here's an excerpt from her poem Daffodil Ministry
And yet the daffodils, she says
And yettishness: a state of mind.
O yes, of course the world is harsh
And suffering, O yes — and yet
This morning, as I walked along
And saw the daffodils, I thought —
And so forth, daffodilling on.
And yet, and yes, the daffodils
Making their point, in scurfy gardens,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Municipally distributed, like grit.
Wherever a bulb can lodge and multiply,
Long-legged, gape-mouthed, a yellow hop in air,
Injustice, executions, arms trade, war
The stillness isn’t easy with itself.
And yet, and yet.
And here's an excerpt from her poem Men on Allotments where every verse ends with a line about beans.
As mute as monks, tidy as bachelors,
They manicure their little plots of earth.
Drab solitary men who spend their time
Kneeling, or fetching water, soberly,
Or walking softly down a row of beans.
And all must toe the line here; stern and leaf,
As well as root, obey the rule of string.
Domesticated tilth aligns itself
In sweet conformity; but head in air
Soars the unruly loveliness of beans.
They share strange intuitions, know how much
Patience and energy and sense of poise
It takes to be an onion; and they share
The subtle benediction of the beans.
The ferny tops of carrots, stout red stems
Of beetroot, zany sunflowers with blond hair
And bloodshot faces, shine like seraphim
Under the long flat fingers of the beans.
Ursula Fanthorpe died of cancer at 79 on April 28th in 2009.
1932 Birth of Thomas Eugene Robbins, American novelist.
Tom is best-loved for his seriocomedies, also known as comedy-dramas.
In 1993, Tom's novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was made into a movie by Gus Van Sant and starred Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, and Keanu Reeves.
In Jitterbug Perfume, Tom comically wrote,
Meet me in Cognito, baby. In Cognito, we'll have nothing to hide.
Jitterbug Perfume is a delight for gardeners. Here's just a sampling of the many botanical references.
This first quote is about photosynthesis and the divine nature of light.
We live now in an information technology. Flowers have always lived in an information technology. Flowers gather information all day. At night, they process it. This is called photosynthesis. As our neocortex comes into full use, we, too, will practice a kind of photosynthesis. As a matter of fact, we already do, but compared to the flowers, our kind is primitive and limited. For one thing, information gathered from daily newspapers, soap operas, sales conferences, and coffee klatches is inferior to information gathered from sunlight. (Since all matter is condensed light, light is the source, the cause of life. Therefore, light is divine. The flowers have a direct line to God that an evangelist would kill for.)
This second quote is about the power of scent and of course scent is a powerful aspect of many of our favorite blossoms.
The aroma of flowers, from which we have borrowed our perfumes, while extremely powerful, has been from the beginning entirely seductive in its intentions. A rose is a rose is a rogue. Perfume, fundamentally, is the sexual attractant of flowers, or, in the case of civet and musk, of animals. Squeezed from the reproductive glands of plants and creatures, perfume is the smell of creation, a sign dramatically delivered to our senses of the Earth’s regenerative powers - a message of hope and a message of pleasure.
Finally, this last quote is about the beet, which to Tom Robbins is more than a humble root vegetable.
The beet is the most intense of vegetables.
The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent, not of passion.
Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity.
Beets are deadly serious.
Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.
The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip...
The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime.
The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot.
The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized;
the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma;
the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.
The beet was Rasputin's favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.
2011 On this day, the Calgary Herald published an article called Secrets of the sacred lotus by Corinne Hannah.
Plants are cool. And some are way cool. Such is the case with the sacred lotus.
English botanist Leonnard Plukenet christened the sacred lotus in 1696 as Nymphaea glandulifera indiae paludibus gardens foliis umbilicatis amplis pediculis spinosis flore rosea-pupureo ("nim-fay-EE-ah-gland-you-LIFF-er-AH-in-die-EE-pall-ooh-duh-bus-gardens-fol-ee-ice-umb-Bill-ah-CAY-tis-AMP-YOU-lis-ped-DIC-YOU-lis-spin-OH-sis-flora-row-SAH-poo-PURR-EE-oh") or "the marsh-loving, nut-bearing Indian water lily with large, navel-centred leaves, prickly stalks and rose-purple flowers."
Recent genetic testing has confirmed that sacred lotus belongs to a genus unto itself, Nelumbo nucifera. This aquatic plant is not even remotely related to water lilies. In fact, it is far more closely allied to woody plants such as plane trees or banksias.
However long-winded, Plukenet's name was very descriptive. The sacred lotus does have large navel-centered leaves. These orbicular leaves start to develop in the spring and can grow to a diameter of almost a meter across in optimum conditions.
The surface of the lotus leaf is utterly unique. [They} are superhydrophobic, meaning they shed water extremely effectively, allowing the plant to withstand monsoon force rainfall. Microscopic examination of the leaves reveals the surface is covered with tiny protuberances that are in turn covered in a waxy substance.
Savvy manufacturers have mimicked these plant structures to create self-cleaning glass and graffiti-resistant paint.
In the centre of the leaf is navel-like structure called an omphalos. The stem and omphalos function as snorkel... allowing the sacred lotus to flourish in conditions that would thwart other plants.
Over the course of the day, fragrance and heat builds up in the cupped centre of the blooms, creating an attractive environment for pollinators. At dusk the flowers close, trapping heat and the pollinators inside.
Some studies have shown that lotus flowers can maintain temperatures over 30 C, even when ambient temperatures plunge to 10 degrees. The trapped heat keeps pollinators active, frolicking about all night in a flurry of pollen, only to be released in the morning covered in the stuff and ready to fly off to their next blossom.
The "nut-bearing" portion of Plukenet's description refers to the cone-shaped receptacles that are filled with extremely hard bean-like seeds... As the seed heads mature they turn woody and are so interesting in appearance that they are often used in dried flower arrangements.
Even the seeds are amazing. They've been found in archeological digs alongside relics dating back onitsar 3,000 years. And the seeds have successfully germinated!
This longevity is due in part to the extremely hard outer coating and also to unique chemicals that allow [the] seed tissues to repair and rejuvenate over time.
As you can imagine, cosmetic companies have been keenly interested in unlocking the mysteries of these compounds.
Way cool, huh?
Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation
The Sun King's Garden by Ian Thompson
This book came out in 2020, and the subtitle is Simple Ideas For Small Outdoor Spaces.
You can get a copy of The Sun King's Garden by Ian Thompson and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for around $
1823 Death of William Bartram, American botanist, artist, and naturalist known as The Flower Hunter.
He collapsed and died at 85 while walking along the edge of his garden.
The son of the Quaker botanist John Bartram, William - or Billy (as he was known to his family) - was the first American to pursue a life devoted to the study of nature.
Together, William and his father were the top American plant collectors and horticulturists of their time. The two men first explored colonial Pennsylvania and New York.
William's tender inquisitiveness and intuitive connection to both humans and the natural world allowed him to make friendships with the Native Americans of the South Eastern Tribes. In turn, they gave him a nickname that William was rather fond of - Pug Puggy which translated to mean The Flower Hunter.
In his heart, William was an artist, and his nature art was eventually widely-acclaimed. But before William’s artistic success, his father, John, worried that Billy would end up a starving artist. And so, John attempted many times to no avail, to steer William toward other more lucrative endeavors.
In 1791, William's book Travels was published. In the book, William shared his 2,400-mile exploration of the American south. Travels became an immediate sensation in Europe, where people were over-the-moon curious about flora and fauna of the new world.
In BJ Healey’sbook, The Plant Hunters, there is a charming summation of William's lifestory:
Through his [book] Travels — one of the earliest and certainly the most finest record of American experience, landscape, and people in the eighteenth century; a book that achieved world-wide recognition and profoundly influenced Wordsworth, Coleridge, and many later writers — [William] more than proved himself a worthy son of the Old Quaker pioneer. John Bartram need not have been troubled in his later years, he would have been proud of Billy in the end.
Although William had followed in his father's footsteps, he viewed the natural world through an additional lens- that of an artist. Andrea Wulf wrote about the difference between William and his father in her book Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation.
Whereas John Bartram Senior's published travel accounts read like dry observations of soils, plants and potential agricultural uses of thefrontier land, William Bartram's journal revealed a man enraptured by the grandeur of America: forests were "sublime,' trees were "transcendent" and plains were "Elysian fields."
When he saw the natural world of his country his mind was "suspended" and "beheld with rapture and astonishment."
Near the end of his life, William wrote a poignant letter to General Lachlan McIntosh after a visit from the General's nephew. Reflecting on his plant hunting adventures through the wilderness of Florida and his time with the McIntosh family. William wrote, that the experience
...left permanent impressions on my mind, never to be effaced. Scarcely an object or occurrence... fails of recalling ... those happy scenes, happy hours, which I enjoyed in your family.
William signed off with his Native American name; Pug puggy, The Flower Hunter.
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