I recently had a gardener ask me about the first herb I'd ever grown.
That would be chives. Chives, like many herbs, are so easy to grow. Plus, you get the cute little puffball blossom. I had a chef friend show me how she liked to cut off the flower. Then, she snipped a little triangle off of the bottom where the bloom and the stem come together (kinda like cutting paper to make a snowflake). By doing this, you basically get "chive-fetti," and you can easily sprinkle the little chive blossom over salads or dishes — mic drop. Goat cheese and chive blossoms pair very well. You can serve that at a party or just add it to an omelet. Very decorative. Very pretty. Something anyone can do.
#OTD Today, Japan celebrates Botany Day, a celebration that honors the birthday of the Father of Japanese Botany, Tomitaro Makino.
Makino was born in 1862. His dad was a successful brewer of the Japanese national drink, sake. Sadly, by the time he was six, his father, mother, and grandfather had died. He was raised by his grandmother.
Makino became fascinated with plants as a boy. He loved to collect specimens. Every spare minute, until he became bedridden before his death, he would roam the countryside adding to his personal herbarium, which would ultimately max out at over 400,000 specimens. (The University of Tokyo is now home to the Makino herbarium).
Makino adopted Linnaean principles for naming his plants. In 1940, he published the Illustrated Flora of Japan - an exhaustive work that detailed more than 6,000 plants. (I ordered myself a first edition online from Abe Books for the fine price of $67.)
The Makino Botanical Garden was built in his hometown of Kochi City after he died in 1957 at the age of 94.
Tomitaro Makino, the Japanese botanist, said,
"Plants can survive without humans; but humans can't survive without plants".
#OTD Today is the birthday of french botanist Lucien Plantefol (1891-1983).
He developed his own theory to explain how leaves are arranged on the stems of plants. He served in the First World War. Modern chemical warfare began in his home country, France, on April 22, 1915, when German soldiers attacked the French by using chlorine gas. Plantefol was wounded during the war, but he went on to serve his country by working on a team at a national defense laboratory that developed the gas mask.
Very on-trend, the restaurant boasts pastel tones and loads of houseplants. Divided into quarters, Botanist includes a dining room, a cocktail bar and lab, a garden, and a champagne lounge. The lounge is surrounded by glass and planters filled with greenery indigenous to British Columbia. The garden invites guests to chill in a glass-walled space filled with greenery, a trellis, and more than 50 different types of plant species that include rare fruit bushes and edible species such as green tea camellia, cardamom, and ginger.
#OTD On this day, Paul George Russell was born in 1889 in Liverpool, New York.
His family moved to DC in 1902, and this became Russell's lifelong home. Russell received his advanced degrees from George Washington University. He got his first job at the National Herbarium; Russell would end up working for the government as a botanist for 50 years. Early on, Russell went on collecting trips in northern Mexico with botanists Joseph Nelson Rose and Paul Carpenter Standley. In 1910, during a trip to Mexico, the Verbena russellii - a woody flowering plant - was named for Paul George Russell. Later, he accompanied Rose to Argentina, where the Opuntia russellii - a type of prickly pear -was also named for him.
Back in the States, Russell was a vital part of the team dedicated to creating the living architecture of Japanese cherries around the Washington Tidal Basin. As the consulting botanist, Russell oversaw the planting of all the cherry trees, and he authored a 72-page USDA circular called Oriental Flowering Cherries in March 1934. It was Russell's most impressive work, and it provided facts on cultivation and historical details about varieties of ornamental cherries grown in the United States, introducing visitors to the magnificent cherry trees growing around the tidal basin in Washington, D.C.
A compiler of over 40,000 seed vials during his career, Russell honed a unique and rare skill: he could identify plant species by seed alone.
After retiring, Russell began working on a history of USDA seed collection. Sadly, he never finished this endeavor. Russell died at the age of 73 from a fatal heart attack on April 3, 1963. The following day, April 4th, Russell had made plans with his daughter to see his beloved cherry blossom trees in bloom around the tidal basin.
Here's a little verse from Fisherman's Luck by Henry Van Dyke from 1899.
"The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.
The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month."
#OTD In honor of Charles Sprague Sargent's birthday (He was born on this day in 1841), today's featured book is Stephanne Barry Sutton's biography called Charles Sprague Sargent and the Arnold Arboretum.
This book was commissioned by the Arboretum to celebrate its centennial. It is both a biography of Sargent and a history of the Arnold Arboretum.
In 1872, Sargent was given the responsibility of creating the arboretum for Harvard and he did it all from scratch; there were no arboreta in America to model. His enduring vision for the Arboretum was of such perfection that subsequent directors have followed it with few variations.
Today's Garden Chore
Spring is the perfect time to clean your windows.
When Romeo said, "But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?" He was on to something. Light needs to break through that glass, but that's hard to do if your windows are dirty. When I spoke with The Houseplant Guru, Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, in (The Still Growing Podcast Episode 598), she brought up this very point: cleaning your windows is a great chore to do for your indoor plants.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
While I was researching Sargent, I stumbled on a little story from a 1915 article, and it highlighted the personality differences between the ebullient John Muir and the very serious Bostonian: Charles Sprague Sargent
On a fall trip to the Southern mountains, Muir and Sargent were climbing the hilltops. Here's what happened according to Muir:
"We climbed slope after slope through the trees till we came out on the bare top of Grandfather Mountain.
There it all lay in the sun below us, ridge beyond ridge, each with its typical tree-covering and color, all blended with the darker shades of the pines and the green of the deep valleys. . . .
I couldn't hold in and began to jump about and sing and glory in it all.
Then I happened to look round and catch sight of [Sargent] standing there as cool as a rock, with a half-amused look on his face at me, but never saying a word.
Muir asks Sargent, “Why don't you let yourself out at a sight like that?”
“I don't wear my heart upon my sleeve,” Sargent retorted.
Muir cried, “Who cares where you wear your little heart, man? There you stand in the face of all Heaven come down on Earth, like a critic of the universe, as if to say,
“Come, Nature, bring on the best you have: I'm from BOSTON!’”
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"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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