April 4, 2019 Garden Geography, Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle, Alois Ludwig, the Nova Scotia Mayflower, John Greenleaf Whittier, Diana Donald, Spring Bulbs, Joseph Sauriol

Have you started to think about your garden in geographical terms?

Aside from the zone you are gardening in, what are the micro-climates in your garden?

Areas sheltered by trees, buildings, or other structures may be warmer and ideal locations for less hardy plants.

Low-lying areas may create boggy or marsh-like conditions - perfect for plants that like to have "wet feet."

What is the composition of your soil? Is it heavy and clayish? Loamy or sandy?

Is your soil acidic?

Get to know your garden's topography and micro-climates, then situate (or relocate) plants accordingly.

The more you know, the better your plants will grow.




#OTD Botanist Alphonse Pyramus ("Peer-ah-mus") de Candolle ("Cundull") died on this day at the ripe age of 87 in Geneva in 1893 (October 28, 1806 – April 4, 1893).

Born the year Linneaus died, he was the son of the Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle. His father's monumental work, Prodromus, was an effort to characterize all plant families and establish the basis for the science of botany. Alphonse and future generations of the Candolle family would finish Prodromus through extensive and detailed research. In 1855, Alphonse was awarded the Linnean gold medal. The Candolle family is honored in the plant genera Candollea and Candolleodendron. The scientific journal Candollea is also named after the family.

Candolle's ground-breaking book, Origin for Cultivated Plants begins,

"It is a common saying, that the plants with which man has most to do, and which rendered him the greatest service, are those which botanists know the least.”


Candolle set about correcting that gap in understanding, which had persisted for 50 years. In 1885, The Glasgow Herald reminded readers,

"At the commencement of the present century but little was known respecting the origin of our cultivated plants, and even up till the middle of the present not much progress had teen made in determining the original condition and habitat of the different species, Alexander von Humboldt in 1807 said :

'The origin, the first home of the plants most useful to man, and which have accompanied him from the remotest epochs, is a secret as impenetrable as the dwelling of all our domestic animals. We do not know what region produced spontaneously wheat, barley, oats, and rye. The plants which constitute the natural riches of all the inhabitants of the tropics the banana, the papaw, the manioc, and maize have never been found in a wild state. The potato presents the same phenomenon.'"


In his magnum opus, Candolle attempted to record exhaustively and conclusively all that was known about each species using data from the expeditions of the time. For instance, the apple was vital to the lake dwellers of Lombardy, Savoy, and Switzerland.

Candolle wrote,

“They always cut them length-ways and preserved them dried as a provision for the winter."


That said, Candolle's work was not without criticism. One reviewer wrote in a piece called "Where do our crops come from,"

“Instead of an interesting and readable book he has given us a painfully formal catalogue, about as enticing as a stock and share list or the prices current at the Queen Victoria-street stores.”


Yet, Charles Darwin learned plant geography from Candolle and said,

"no one […] could have worked […] with more zeal and sagacity”.


Candolle named growing regions and came up with climate classifications. Gardeners use them today when we refer to growing zones. Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle is regarded as the father of geographical botany, and Harvard botanist Asa Gray remarked,

"De Candolle's great work closed one epoch in the history of the subject and [Sir Joseph] Hooker's name is the first that appears in the ensuing one."


Alphonse devised the first code of botanical nomenclature - the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature is its descendant. These laws ensure that no two species of plants have the same name. The botanical name is always given in Latin.

Fun Fact: Like his father Augustin, public service was important to Alphonse de Candolle. After visiting England, Candolle introduced the use of postage stamps to Geneva. Geneva became the fourth country in the world to use postage stamps after Great Britain, Zurich, and Brazil.




#OTD On April 4, 1969, architect Alois Ludwig died.

One of his works is the floral design on the Majolikahaus in Vienna - a gem for gardeners and lovers of Art Nouveau. A private residential building close to Naschmarkt, Ludwig adorned the front with majolica tiles, creating an intricate floral motif. It is an incredible sight and worth viewing while in Vienna. It is a few minutes walk from Kettenbrückengasse U-Bahn station.




#OTD In 1901, The Floral Emblem Act was passed in Nova Scotia, making the Mayflower, ground laurel, or trailing arbutus, the official flower of Nova Scotia.

This is why the Mayflower is featured in the decorative ironwork outside the Legislative Library. Check it out the next time you're in Nova Scotia.

The leaves of the Mayflower have been used to make a diuretic tea, and the roots live symbiotically with mycorrhiza. The Mayflower is an early spring ephemeral. Fragrant, it's one of the most-loved wildflowers and a neat little woodland plant - the emphasis here is on woodland - don't attempt to grow it in your garden, as noted in this post in The Hutchinson News out of Hutchinson, Kansas, on July 6, 1915:

"Among the truly 'wild' ; flowers, two that ask of man only to be let alone in their native fastnesses, are the mayflower, or trailing arbutus, and the , twinberry, or partridge berry, the last-named a member of the madder family, and a distant relative of the coffee tree. The mayflower is wildest and shyest of all. No more is the eagle at home in the farmyard or the cardinal in the cage that the mayflower In the garden. As the imprisoned cardinal pines away and dies when the gilded bars of a bird-cage separate it from its liberty, so ' the mayflower sickens and withers away in the garden.”



Unearthed Words

The Mayflower is a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier (Books by this author)


Here's an excerpt:


O sacred flowers of faith and hope,
As sweetly now as then
Ye bloom on many a birchen slope,
In many a pine-dark glen.

Behind the sea-wall's rugged length,
Unchanged, your leaves unfold,
Like love behind the manly strength
Of the brave hearts of old.

So live the fathers in their sons,
Their sturdy faith be ours,
And ours, the love that overruns
Its rocky strength with flowers.

The Pilgrim's wild and wintry day
Its shadow round us draws;
The Mayflower of his stormy bay,
Our Freedom's struggling cause.

But warmer suns ere long shall bring
To life the frozen sod;
And, through dead leaves of hope, shall spring
Afresh the flowers of God!




Today's book recommendation: Endless Forms by Diana Donald

This exhibition originated at the Yale Center for British Art and ended at Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. It is a visually magnificent book.

Published in 2009, new copies sell for $45. Used copies are available on Amazon for less than $10.



Today's Garden Chore

Are the Spring-blooming bulbs starting to pop up in every garden except yours?

It happens. Don't get jealous - get motivated.

Now is the time to get inspired by the beauty.

Devote a page in your garden journal for the bulbs you want to plant this fall.

Write yourself a gentle reminder like, "Do this or else!" or "If you don't get these, you'll have garden-envy again next Spring."

That should do the trick.

Set a date on your calendar today for planting bulbs during the last week of October or the first week of November.



Something Sweet to revive the little botanic spark in your heart

Here's a sweet diary entry for today by Canadian Naturalist Charles Joseph Sauriol from 1938 shared by the Toronto Archives on their fabulous Twitter feed - which is a beautiful thing to follow:

"For a few minutes this morning I fumbled around my Wild Flower garden... Little points which will soon be Bloodroots. Cautious little down covered stems and buds that will later become Hepaticas. Narrow leaves the forerunners of spring beauty."



Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener, and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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