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1777 Birth of Thomas Campbell, Scottish poet.
He founded and served as the first President of the Clarence Club. He was also a co-founder of the Literary Association of the Friends of Poland.
Here's an excerpt from Thomas's poem Field Flowers.
Ye field flowers! the gardens eclipse you ’tis true,
Yet, wildings of nature I dote upon you,
For ye waft me to summers of old,
When the earth teemed around me with faery delight,
And when daisies and buttercups gladdened my sight,
Like treasures of silver and gold.
Not a pastoral song has a pleasanter tune
Than ye speak to my heart, little wildings of June:
1802 Birth of Alexandre Dumas (" Doo-Ma"), French author, playwright, and gourmet.
He is remembered as the author of The Three Musketeers.
Alexandre also wrote the Count of Monte Cristo, which contains many passages about the garden. Here's one from Chapter 44:
The garden was long and narrow; a stretch of smooth turf extended down the middle, and at the corners were clumps of trees with thick and massy foliage, that made a background for the shrubs and flowers.
Alexandre was a larger-than-life character, and there are actually quite a few stories about him that gardeners will find charming.
For instance, in the mid-1860s, the Library in Cavaillon ("Ca-VAY-on"), France was just getting started, and they asked Alexandre for a donation of some of his books.
I agree on one condition: Just as the town and the Cavaillon authorities love my books, so I love their melons. In exchange for my 300 or 400 books, I request a town by-law be passed giving me a life annuity of 12 Cavaillon melons a year.
The town happily agreed to the terms Alexandre set forth, and Alexandre received a dozen Charentais ("Shar-en-TAY") melons every year until he passed away in 1870.
The cantaloupe melons of Cavaillon are perfectly suited to growing in the soil and climate of the Durance River Valley and are perfect for growing cantaloupe. Cavaillon is still the home of the sweet, Charentais melon. In fact, visitors to Cavaillon are greeted by a nine-ton statue of a Charentais melon, and the annual melon festival happens every year the weekend before Bastille day.
Now gardeners may wonder if a Charentais is similar to French cantaloupes or North American musk melons. Although they are related, they are not the same. Charentais melons are sweeter and have a jasmine and apricot fragrance.
Just before he died, Alexandre finished his final book, and he titled it Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine (The Grand Dictionary of Cuisine). It is especially poignant to see that Alexandre included an entry on the Charentais melon. In fact, Alexandre did not mince words, and he gushed that it was the greatest melon he'd ever encountered.
There is yet one more hilarious story about Alexandre that occurred when he was traveling in Switzerland. One day Alexandre decided he wanted mushrooms for supper. Now Alexandre spoke only French while the owner of the inn he was staying at spoke only German. To convey what he wanted, Alexandre quickly made a charcoal sketch of a mushroom on the wall. After seeing the sketch, the innkeeper went out for a while and then came back and presented Alexandre with an umbrella.
It was Alexandre Dumas who wrote these garden-inspired verses,
All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope.
It is not the tree that forsakes the flower, but the flower that forsakes the tree.
To despise flowers is to offend God.
1811 On this day, Martha Ballard was selling some of the produce from her garden.
In A Midwife's Tale The Life of Martha Ballard (2010), Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote,
By July, [Martha's] currant bushes were bent to the ground with fruit, jewel-like globules of a brilliant red and an astringent tartness. She used them fresh, in pies or tarts, in sauces, and medicinal syrups. Some of the fruit trees on the farm were already bearing when the Ballards moved there. On July 10, 1801, in the second year at the farm, Martha wrote,
"We have Bakt apples, Cherry, Currant tarts, Custard and Wheat Bread."
Eventually, she added English gooseberries to her garden, and, in May of 1806, set out young plum and apple trees in the orchard. Her shrubs and trees not only added variety to her table but provided additional commodities for trade.
"Marshall Edson's wife here for cherries," she wrote on July 21, 1806, and, four days later,
"Mrs. Howards made [maid] and Mr Fuller here for Cherrys & Curents."
On July 27, 1811, the last summer of her life, she noted that,
"Warrin Stones wife came and gathered our Cherries which were in the gardin 22 quarts. She is to have half," adding "[We] sold them for six cents per quart.'
Ripe currants and cherries added color to a garden predominantly green. There was little intentional ornament. Even Marigolds were planted for their medicinal properties rather than their hue, though the bright yellow must have been attractive. Yet, with its trailing squash vines and flourishing cabbages, Martha's was the sort of garden a traveler might have found "pretty," that is, pleasantly productive, an oasis of order amidst the savagery of woods.
"The gardens were rare for so new a place," an itinerant minister wrote of one Kennebec settlement, adding... that "onions, beets and parsnips were excellent."
1905 On this day, Louisa Yeomans King wrote in The Flower Garden Day by Day.
JULY 27. Dahlias and gladioli may still be planted. In fact, it is a good plan to keep some dozens of bulbs... out of the ground till now in order to get a late bloom. Light frosts will not affect the gladiolus.
Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation
All about Flowers by Thomas Mickey
This book came out in 2020, and the subtitle is Simple Ideas For Small Outdoor Spaces.
You can get a copy of All about Flowers by Thomas Mickey and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for around $
1876 Birth of Edith Patch, American entomologist and writer.
She is remembered as the first truly successful professional woman entomologist in the United States.
In 1901 she graduated from the University of Minnesota and became an English teacher. Edith once said she "had the mind of a scientist, [and] the soul of an artist." Given these dual interests, it's not surprising that Edith dropped her job as an English teacher and took a chance on a nonpaying job organizing the entomology department at the University of Maine. In 1904, Edith was put in charge of the department. It was a position she held until she retired in 1937.
In addition to the seventeen nature books she wrote for children, Edith published over a hundred articles about insects. She was passionate about accuracy in her work. As a young girl, she had read about a cabbage caterpillar transforming into a butterfly but was frustrated by the bogus information and descriptions in the story. As a result, Edith was totally devoted to conveying truths grounded in the science of her work.
In 1936, Edith created some educational broadcasts. Her talk was called Aphids, Aphids, Everywhere! and her central message was that,
...in general, aphids are regulated by natural controls.
Edith's first boss in Maine was a man named Dr. Charles D. Woods who was the director of the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station. Once he recognized Edith's genuine passion for entomology, he cleared the way for her to get a salary for teaching entomology and leading the department.
Once a peer challenged his decision to hire Edith by saying,
I hear you ...appointed a woman as entomologist. Why on earth did you do that? A woman can't catch grasshoppers.
It will take a lively grasshopper to escape Miss Patch.
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And remember: For a happy, healthy life, garden every day.