Do you have pet names for your plants?
Amy the Amaryllis. Jerry the geranium. Once I bought some dahlias at a private plant sale. Before I drove away, I rolled down the window to ask for the seller's name; it was Doris. They’ve been my “Doris“ dahlias ever since. So whether they are called Howard or Bertie, Harry or Liz; if you’ve named your plants, you are not alone. The gesture of honoring a loved one, or the little laugh evoked from a cleverly-named plant, all add to the joy of gardening. There’s nothing wrong with that.
#OTD On this day in 1855 Paul de Longpré (Books By This Author)was born.
Known as the "King of Flowers", de Longpré painted exceptional portrayals of roses (his first love), and wildflowers (his second love). If you look at his work, you'll find somewhere in his composition his signature accent – a bumblebee. After exhibitions of his work on the East Coast, reviewers praised,
"No one but a poet could paint as he does." "De Longpré has the rare gift of reading down to the heart of his loved flowers."
De Longpré was raised in northern Paris. His father left the family early one - a hurt that de Longpré hid from reporters; telling them that his father was dead. De Longpré's family was artistic and he helped his mother financially by painting silk fans with his brother. (The fans were quite fashionable at the time). After marrying the delightful Josephine Estievenard, de Longpré was mentored by Francois Rivoire. Like Rivoire, de Longpré’s mastery of watercolors is said to rival the richness of oil painting.
When de Longpré lost his savings in a Paris bank crash, he immigrated with his wife and their children to the United States - ultimately calling Hollywood their home in 1900. At the time, Hollywood was a brand new development just west of Los Angeles.
De Longpré built a lavish Mission Revival style villa and it quickly became the most famous estate on the boulevard. He bought an additional three blocks of property from socialite Daeida Wilcox Beveridge in exchange for three of his flora watercolors. On the property, de Longpré planted over 4000 rosebushes the muses for his work – and he turned the main level of his magnificent home into an art gallery. The place became a sensation; a hub for elites, as well as a tourist destination, with over 8,000 visitors a month. De Longpré’s guests were greeted by a very courteous Japanese butler who would hand them a list of the titles and prices of the paintings. Paul's daily habit was to get up in the morning and pick flowers with his youngest daughter, Pauline, by his side. After creating more than 2,000 paintings, de Longpré died in 1911. Josephine and the girls sold the house and sadly agreed to a final exhibition of de Longpré's work, which included his masterpiece the Cherokee Rose. It was Josephine's lifelong regret to part with these paintings. Thirteen years later, the architectural wonder of the de Longpré's villa and the lavish gardens were all destroyed to make room for commercial buildings and parking lots.
#OTD On this day in 1734, Swedish botanist Elsa Beate Bunga was born.
She was a pistol. Married to the handsome Swedish Count Sven Bunga, Elsa was a passionate amateur botanist. At her Beataberga mountain estate, she had many large greenhouses. Bunga wrote a book called, "About the Nature of Grapevines", which brought her notoriety and authority. She even corresponded with fellow Swede Carl Linnaeus (who is almost 30 years older than her). Bunga also drew attention because of her way of dressing. Like the women of her time, she wore a skirt, but she distinguished herself by dressing as a man from the waist up. When King Gustav III (1771 - 1792), inquired about a peculiarly dressed woman at the Royal Swedish Opera, Bunge boldly replied,
"Tell his Majesty that I am the daughter of statesman Fabian Reder and married to statesman Sven Bunga".
#OTD in 1918 Maryland selected the Black-Eyed Susan as the State Flower.
This was after much debate. The Baltimore Sun, among many others, was not in favor of the Black-Eyed Susan selection, writing dismissively:
"Susan came to Maryland, not on the Ark or the Dove, but a migrant from the Midwest mixed in clover and hayseed."
Before the plant received it's popular common name, there was a song by John Gay called Black-Eyed Susan - popular in British maritime novels.
The song tells of a love story between Susan and her Sweet William.
As the two say their final farewells before his departure on a long sea voyage, Susan had crying and had black circles around her eyes.
Today, their stories continue; folklore sharing that Black-Eyed Susans and Sweet William share the same bloom time to celebrate their undying love for each other.
Here are a few verses:
All in the Downs the fleet was moor'd,
The streamers waving to the wind
When black-eyed Susan came on board;
Oh! where shall I my true love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true,
If my sweet William sails among your crew.
William, who high upon the yard,
Rock'd with the billows to and fro,
Soon as her well-known voice he heard,;
He sigh'd, and cast his eyes below; ;-
The cord glides swiftly through his glowing hands, '
And quick as lightning on the deck he stands. '
So the sweet lark, high pois'd in air,
Shuts close his pinions to his breast,
If chance his mate's shrill call he hear,
And drops at once into her nest,
The noblest captain in the British fleet,
Might envy William's lips those kisses sweet.
O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear;
We only part to meet again. .
Change as ye list, ye winds, my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.
Believe not what the landsmen say,
Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind;
They'll tell thee, sailors, when away,
In every port a mistress find.
Yes, yes, believe them, when they tell thee so,
For thou art present wheresoe'er I go.
If to fair India's coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in di'monds bright;
Thy breath is Afric's spicy gale,
Thy skin is ivory so white.
Thus, ev'ry beauteous object that I view,
Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.
Though battle calls me from thy arms,
Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms.
William shall to his dear return.
Love turns aside the balls 'that round me fly;
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye. I
The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
The sails their swelling bosoms spread;
No longer must she stay aboard
They kiss'd she sigh'd; he hung his head
Her less'ning boat unwilling rows to land;
Adieu! she cries, and wav'd her lily hand.
Studio Oh offers inspired collections of finely crafted and cleverly designed journals and other decorative home accessories. Their new cactus line of products will be a sure hit with gardeners.
Today's Garden Chore
Plan how you will honor Arbor Day
Find the best place to source saplings in your area.
Increase your tree diversity by planting a Kentucky Coffee Tree.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
The story of de Longpré is quite enchanting. There are two images in particular about de Longpré that stuck with me. The first is such a quintessentially French image. De Longpré is riding his bicycle, peddling out to the garden with an easel on his back, a hat on his head, on his way to paint the flowers he loved so much.
The second image is a photo of de Longpré in the garden with his little daughter Pauline. In an article in the Overland Monthly, we get a little glimpse into their relationship.
"de Longpré’s youngest daughter, is a bright little miss about eight years old. If you ask for her name, she will say it is Pauline; but the only name she has ever called at home is “Joujou”; the French word for toy or plaything. She is idolized by her famous father, and when he walks in the garden she is always by his side."
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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