November 15, 2022 Australia’s First Grapevines, Charlotte Mary Mew, Georgia O’Keeffe, JG Ballard, Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake, and the Florida Orange Blossom


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Historical Events

1791 On this day, Australia's first thriving grapevine was planted.

The First Fleet's Captain Arthur Phillip brought grape cuttings from South America and South Africa and produced a small vineyard at Farm Cove. Today, Farm Cove is the location of the Sydney Botanical Gardens. When the plants did not bear, they were transplanted to Parramatta. 

Arthur Philip served as the first Governor of New South Wales when his Crimson Grapes flourished in the warm Australian fertile soil. Today Crimson Grapes can also be found in Victoria and southeastern Queensland. Australian Crimson Grapes enjoy a long harvest period from November to May.


1869 Birth of Charlotte Mary Mew, English poet.

In her poem, In Nunhead Cemetary, she wrote,

There is something horrible about a flower;
This, broken in my hand, is one of those
He threw it in just now; it will not live another hour;
There are thousands more; you do not miss a rose.


And in The Sunlit House, she wrote,

The parched garden flowers
Their scarlet petals from the beds unswept
Like children unloved and ill-kept

But I, the stranger, knew that I must stay.
Pace up the weed-grown paths and down
Till one afternoon ...
From an upper window a bird flew out
And I went my way.


1887 Birth of Georgia O'Keeffe, American modernist artist.
During her incredible career as a painter, Georgia created over 900 works of art. She is remembered for her iconic paintings of skulls and flowers.

In 1938 Georgia's career stalled. Yet she was approached by an advertising agency about creating two paintings for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now Dole Food Company) to use in their advertising. Georgia was 51 years old when she took the nine weeks, all-expense-paid trip. Georgia never did paint a pineapple.

And gardeners will enjoy this obscure fact: Of all the floral paintings that O'Keeffe created in Hawaii, exactly NONE were native to the island. Instead, Georgia loved the exotic tropicals imported from South America: Bougainvillea, Plumeria, Heliconia, Calliandra, and the White Bird of Paradise.

It was Georgia 0'Keeffe who said all of these quotes about flowers - a subject for which she held strong opinions.

Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time to have a friend takes time.

I hate flowers. I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move!

If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for a moment.

I decided that if I could paint that flower on a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.


1930 Birth of James Graham Ballard (pen name J.G. Ballard), English novelist.

James was part of the New Wave of science fiction in the 1960s. Yet, he is most remembered for his 1984 war novel, Empire of the Sun.

In The Unlimited Dream Company, James wrote,

"Miriam - I'll give you any flowers you want!'

Rhapsodising over the thousand scents of her body, I exclaimed:
"I'Il grow orchids from your hands, roses from your breasts. You can have magnolias in your hair... In your womb I'll set a fly-trap!"

And in The Garden of Time, James wrote,

"Axel," his wife asked with sudden seriousness. "Before the garden dies ...
may I pick the last flower?"

Understanding her request, he nodded slowly.


James once wrote,

I believe in madness, in the truth of the inexplicable, in the common sense of stones, in the lunacy of flowers.


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake
This book came out in 2021, and the subtitle is How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures.

This book has won all kinds of recognition: The Wainwright Prize, the Royal Society Science Book Prize, and the Guild of Food Writers Award • Shortlisted for the British Book Award Longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize.

The publisher writes,

In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhilarating change of perspective. Sheldrake's vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the "Wood Wide Web," to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision.


Entangled Life is a fascinating read. Merlin's passion for fungi (fun-ghee) knows no bounds. Fungi are often referred to as a neglected kingdom of life.
Compared to other kingdoms like plants and animals, we know very little about fungi, and only six percent has thus far been described. And Fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants.

Today most plant life depends on relationships with mycorrhizal fungi or fungi that live in their roots. These fungi help plants acquire water and nutrients. They also protect the plants from disease. 

But its not just plants that need fungi. All Life on earth depends on fungi.

Most fungi are mycelium - the branching fusing networks of tubular cells that feed and transport substances around themselves. Fungi have a unique way of organizing themselves. Mycelium cover the earth in a chaotic, sprawling way. Mycelium can be stretched out end to end up to ten kilometers from a single teaspoon of soil.

This book is 368 pages of the mysterious and miraculous world of fungi. 

You can get a copy of Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for around $9.


Botanic Spark

1909 On this day, the orange blossom was designated as the official state flower of Florida.

This gesture inspired the poet William Livingston Larned to write a poem called Florida's State Flower.

The last little bit goes like this:

Whenever you see the spotless bud,
You know tis Florida the fair.

And wafted to you comes the scent
Of all the blissful regions there.

The rose may have its followers,
The violet its standard, too;
The fleur-de-lis and lily fair
In tints of red and pink and blue;
But just a scent,
On pleasure bent,
Of orange sweet,
The nostrils greet,
And from our dreams, the castles rise,
Of groves and meadows 'neath calm skies.


Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener

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

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