November 29, 2022 John Ray, Amos Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott, Flower Flash by Lewis Miller, Edward Hummel, and Gertrude Jekyll


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Historical Events

1627 Birth of John Ray, English naturalist and writer.

In 1660, he published a catalog of Cambridge plants.

John developed his own system for classifying plants based on their observed similarities and differences. So he was clearly thinking about ways to distinguish one plant from another. And in his book, History of Plants, John was the first scientist to use the terms petal and pollen.

John also wrote a Collection of English Proverbs. In one for summer, John wrote:

If the first of July be rainy weather,
It will rain, more or less, for four weeks together.


1799 Birth of Amos Bronson Alcott, American teacher, writer, Transcendentalist and reformer.

In most aspects of his life, Amos was ahead of his time. He was also an abolitionist and an advocate for women's rights. He also advocated a plant-based diet. 

Amos once wrote,

Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps, Perennial pleasures, plants, and wholesome harvest

In 1830, Amos married pretty Abigail May, and together they had four daughters; the second-oldest was Louisa May, born on this day in 1832.


1832 Birth of Louisa May Alcott, American writer, and poet. 

She grew up in the company of her parents' friends and fellow Transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In 1868, she wrote Little Women. In it, she wrote,

Jo had learned that hearts, like flowers, cannot be rudely handled, but must open naturally...

Louisa could be witty. She once wrote,

Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.


1978 Death of Edward C. Hummel, American plantsman and hybridizer.

Edward and his wife Minnie ran Hummel's Exotic Gardens of southern California for 43 years. They specialized in cacti, succulents, bromeliads ("brow·mee·lee·ads"), and orchids. 

In 1935, Edward and Minnie were featured in a Quaker State Motor Oil advertisement. The young Hummel family is in their home cactus garden. Edward is examining a cactus specimen while his daughter Marquetta and son Edward gather around. Mother Minnie is standing behind them, looking on. The ad garnered plenty of attention, and soon Edward was fielding requests from American gardeners for more information about his cactus garden. The letters gave Edward and Minnie the idea to start a mail-order business for their plants.

In 1943, during WWII, Edward published Hummel's Victory Picture Book. The cover featured a photo of two 6-foot-tall Barrel cacti at the base, leaning away from each other at the top in a perfect V formation for victory. The book was a smash hit, and subsequent editions were quickly put together. In the first edition, Edward wrote a note to his customers in the forward.

Perhaps you will wonder at receiving this free picture book which contains no prices of plants. If you enjoy a few minutes of interest and relaxation in looking it over, it will have fulfilled its obvious purpose. If your interest and curiosity are stirred to the point that you write us for further information, it will have fulfilled its hidden purpose.

After the War, the fumes from LAX drove the Hummels to find a new home for their nursery. They settled in Carlsbad and purchased an existing nursery after the founder Dr. Robert W. Poindexter, died unexpectedly. The nursery was a perfect fit. Robert Poindexter shared the Hummel's passion for cacti and succulents. Robert's son John finalized the sale.

Edward was especially interested in propagating and selling drought-resistant plants in his nursery. He won many awards for his plants and was primarily known for his work with Bromeliads ("brow·mee·lee·ads").


Grow That Garden Library™ Book Recommendation

Flower Flash by Lewis Miller
This book came out in 2021, and Lewis Miller is a celebrated floral designer and "Flower Bandit."

The publisher writes, 

Before dawn one morning in October 2016, renowned New York-based floral designer Lewis Miller stealthily arranged hundreds of brightly colored dahlias, carnations, and mums into a psychedelic halo around the John Lennon memorial in Central Park.

The spontaneous floral installation was Miller's gift to the city an effort to spark joy during a difficult time. Nearly five years and more than ninety Flower Flashes later, these elaborate flower bombs - bursts of jubilant blooms in trash cans, over bus canopies, on construction sites and traffic medians - have brought moments of delight and wonder to countless New Yorkers and flower lovers everywhere, and earned Miller a following of dedicated fans and the nickname the "Flower Bandit."

After New York City entered lockdown, Miller doubled down, creating Flower Flashes outside hospitals to express gratitude to frontline health workers and throughout the city to raise spirits. This gorgeous and poignant visual diary traces the phenomenon from the first, spontaneous Flower Flash to the even more profound installations of the pandemic through a kaleidoscopic collage of photos documenting the Flower Flashes, behind-the-scenes snapshots, Miller's inspiration material, fan contributions, and more.


Lewis begins his story this way.

When pressed to define my own vision, a few words come to mind: Abundance. Contrast. Joy. Folly. Energy.

Flowers are a medium like no other. They exist to be beautiful, to attract butterflies and bees. It's a simple but astounding life's mission. Yet all too often this profound essence is suffocated under the weight of other meaning. We humans assign arbitrary significance to almost everything and in the process snuff out the true purpose of that thing; flowers are not spared this imposition. Gladiolas can be dismissed as ghastly, lilies as rancid, and carnations as tacky. Such horrible words to describe flowers, and it doesn't stop there. The cacophony of derogatory remarks is endless: cheap, garish, weedy, "too country," gaudy, pretentious ... It can make the most ambitious flower lover hesitant to create anything for fear of damnation from the Taste Gods.

The Flower Flash is my antidote to all that! Flower Flashes celebrate all the good that flowers embody and have to offer us mortals. In a Flash, every flower benefits equally from a sort of floral democracy and like most democracies, the Flash's success is largely dependent on the hardworking, unsung flowers that support the more delicate and fashionable blooms. Precious sweet peas share company with unloved carnations, chrysanthemums make nice with English garden roses. And it makes sense that this is the recipe for a successful Flash, because New York City, the birthplace of these random acts of beauty, is built on the same principle. Like a true Flower Flash, Gotham City is a glorious mash-up of all kinds of people and personalities.

Since the roads aren't lined with roses, the Flower Flashes will be.


This book is 240 pages of Flower Flash Flower Power with the Bandit himself - Lewis Miller - flower lover, flower advocate, and joyous bringer of random acts of beauty.

You can get a copy of Flower Flash by Lewis Miller and support the show using the Amazon link in today's show notes for around $16.


Botanic Spark

1843 Birth of Gertrude Jekyll ("Jee-kul"), British horticulturist, garden designer, photographer, writer, and artist.

Gertrude Jekyll was one of the most influential garden designers of the early 20th century. She created a spectacular garden at her property called Munstead Wood in England. She also created over 400 gardens in  Europe and the United States. Today the Gertrude Jekyll pink rose is considered a gardener favorite, and the rose 'Munstead Wood' honors Gertrude's garden and is one of the most splendid wine red roses.

In her book, On Gardening, Gertrude wrote,

The Dahlia’s first duty in life is to flaunt and to swagger and to carry gorgeous blooms well above its leaves, and on no account to hang its head.




When I pick or crush in my hand a twig of Bay, or brush against a bush of Rosemary, or tread upon a tuft of Thyme… I feel that here is all that is best and purest and most refined, and nearest to poetry ...of the sense of smell.


Finally, Gertrude once wrote,

The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies, but grows to the enduring happiness that the love of gardening gives. 


Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener

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

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