There's a soldier's prayer that goes,
"Stay with me, God. The night is dark,
The night is cold: my little spark
Of courage dies. The night is long;
Be with me, God, and make me strong."
Dark. Cold. Long.
It's easy to get so excited about the first nice days of spring.
"It was 80 degrees today!"
"It's going to be above 70 all next week!"
Well, hold your horses. You forget about those nights. Remember?
Dark. Cold. Long.
No fun for tender transplants.
Over in the FB group for listeners of the show, listener Denise Pugh shared an awesome Facebook Live session put on by one of the best: Lisa Mason Ziegler from The Gardener's Workshop. In the video, Lisa mentions the secret to successful transitioning of transplants from indoors to outdoors - the secret is consistent nighttime temps of 60 degrees or higher.
She's got a ton of other sage pieces of wisdom as well for growing warm-weather crops - so head on over to the Daily Gardener Community on Facebook and check out the replay. In the meantime, remember to curb your enthusiasm about those first lovely warm days of spring. Save the real celebration for the arrival of warm nights.
#OTD On this day in 1863, botanist, physician, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, William Darlington, died.
Like eminent botanists John Bartram, Humphry Marshall, and William Baldwin, Darlington was born in Pennsylvania as a Quaker. A native of West Chester, he received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. As a student, Benjamin Barton, the author of the first American botany textbook, encouraged his interest in the subject.
After an appointment as a surgeon for an East India merchant, Darlington traveled to Calcutta. A year later, when he returned from India, he married Catharine Lacey, the daughter of a distinguished Revolutionary War General.
An abiding counselor and partner to William, they would be together for forty years, having four sons and four daughters. Their oldest son Benjamin Smith Barton Darlington and their youngest son William Baldwin Darlington were both named in honor of fellow botanists.
1826 was a big year for Darlington. He organized and presided over the Chester County Cabinet of Natural Sciences, and he published his first edition of "Florula Cestrica," his catalog of plants in West Chester.
An archivist, Darlington worked to preserve correspondence and documents of Humphry Marshall and John Bartram; he compiled them into a book called Memorials of Bartram and Marshall.
In 1853, the botanist John Torrey named a new and remarkable variety of pitcher-plant found in California for Darlington, calling it Darlingtonia Californica. He had been similarly honored but Augustin de Candolle, who named a genus after him.
Darlington's large herbarium and works were bequeathed to the Chester County Cabinet of Natural Science. He was buried in the Oaklands Cemetery, near West Chester. An epitaph in Latin is inscribed on his stone marker, written by Darlington some twenty years before his death: "Plantae Cestrienses, quas dilexit atque illustravit, super tumulum ejus semper floreant" or May the plants of Chester, which he loved and documented, forever blossom over his grave. And, Darlington's tombstone is crowned with a relief of Darlingtonia californica.
#OTD It's the birthday of Thomas Grant Harbison, born in 1862.
Harbison was a self-taught botanist, earning advanced degrees including a Ph.D. by correspondence - a fairly novel concept in the late 1800s.
In 1886, Harbison and a friend created their own version of Survivor. They followed forest and mountain paths through Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Cutting themselves off from civilization, they allowed themselves only five items for daily living: a wool blanket, a rubber poncho, a tin bucket, a bag of wheat, and a tin of brown sugar. Their only other indulgence was a copy of Alphonso Wood's Manual of Botany to aid their study of plants.
Harbison remembered that, in wartime, Caesar's soldiers ate wheat that was crushed and turned into mush. This was their primary source of sustenance - which they would sweeten with the brown sugar and berries picked along the way. It was a formative event for Harbison. This survivalist experience helped him develop his famed skill for finding any particular species in ways few other men could equal.
Harbison was part of a corp of botanists hired by the Biltmore Herbarium - the famous Vanderbilt botanical garden at Asheville, North Carolina. As a plant collector for Biltmore, Harbison traveled throughout the United States - specifically searching for tree and shrub specimens.
After leaving in 1903, Harbison was the only Biltmore collector who went on to work purely as a botanist. He brought attention to over 100 new or little known tree species as a field representative for Charles Sprague Sargent at Harvard's Arnold Arboretum. When Harbison came to Highlands, North Carolina, looking for specimens for Harvard, he found such a treasure of botanical specimens that he made the Highlands his home. Harbison said that he regarded the Highlands as a botanical paradise of wild plants, which he attributed to the fact that the area had escaped the great glacier movements that formed much of the world.
Thomas Harbison died in his sleep at the age of 74.
Harvard botany Professor William Chambers Coker said,
"Mr. Harbison was a man of the highest character and of warm, human feeling. In his death the University loses nationally a great botanist, but a delightful companion."
Today, the Thomas Grant Harbison House is a historic house at 2930 Walhalla Road, just outside Highlands, North Carolina. The trees on the property date back to Harbison and include a grove of hemlock [Tsuga canadensis], white pine [Pinus strobus], and oak [Quercus sp.] trees. Harbison is recorded as planting the group of six Florida nutmeg trees on the east side of the house. It is believed Harbison secured them on one of his collecting expeditions for the Arnold Arboretum.
A willow named Falix Har-bisonii (ii = "ee-eye") and a hawthorn named "Crataegus 'Harbosinii (ii = "ee-eye")" native to the country surrounding Nashville, were named to honor Thomas Harbison.
#OTD Today is the birthday of William Shakespeare. He was born on this day in 1564.
The Bard's works are loaded with references to plants and gardens.
Roses are referred to around a hundred times by Shakespeare, probably influenced to some extent by their link to the Tudor dynasty as well as the flower’s own obvious merits.
Winter's Garden Act 4 Scene 4
“there’s Rosemary and rue: these keep
Seeming and savour all winter long”
Ophelia from Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5
'There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.'
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 2, Scene 2
Oberon: I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night
The Lenhardt Library at the Chicago Botanic Garden hosts a Shakespeare Day on Oct. 15, featuring Botanical Shakespeare.…
#OTD in 1984, the New York Times reviewed eight new gardening books, and today's book selection was on that list: ''A Wild Flower Alphabet'' by Elizabeth Cameron. A watercolorist who lives near Moray Firth in Scotland, the author composed this alphabet for her grandchildren. The delightful messages describing the flowers on each page are hand-lettered. The description says it was "Just right for a rainy day" and "a delightful picture-book."
Today's Garden Chore
In one of the first warm spring rains, bring your houseplants outside for a shower.
One of my favorite spring chores is something garden writer Barbara Pleasant (The Still Growing Podcast Episode 584) shared this with me a few years ago. They'll return to the indoors refreshed and energized - complete with that beautiful spring rain scent.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
When I was researching Thomas Harbison, I came across some beautiful newspaper accounts of summer parties held for the staff - including the nurserymen and landscape department - at Biltmore.
Here's one from the 4th of July, 1900.
The athletic sports for the employees of the Biltmore estate yesterday afternoon were greatly enjoyed, though the contestants were under a disadvantage owing to the hot weather.
The result of the events and the prizes were as follows:
100 yards dash Won by T. G. Harbison, $2; 2d, Hal. Lipe, $1.
Tug of war Won by landscape department team, trophy and $1 each man.
Broad jump Won by A. T. Davidson, $3, 2d, T. G. Harbison, $1
Running high Jump Won by J. W. Young, $2; 2d, T. G. Harbison, $1.
That was a total of $5 in winnings for Thomas Harbison.
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"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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