I realize you are very excited to get going in your own garden.
But don't forget to schedule some time this spring to visit other gardens.
The gardens of friends, neighbors, or public gardens can provide you with inspiration
and teach you something new - even when you didn't think you'd learn anything.
#BTW This entire week, April 27-May 4, is Historic Garden Week at Monticello ("MontiCHELLo”) in Virginia .
If you visit today, April 30, you can learn more about their flower and vegetable gardens.
It's National Raisin Day.
California is the biggest supplier of the sun-dried grapes. The California Associated Raisin Company (later known as Sun-Maid) was created with the idea for an ingenious co-op and the credit for this novel approach went to vineyardist, oilman, and attorney Henry H. Welsh. Welsh came up with the idea for a three-year grower contract, subject to a two-year renewal, binding the raisin grower to deliver all of his crop for a guaranteed price.
Naturally low in fat, raisins contain healthy nutrients... unless you're eating the yogurt- or chocolate-covered raisins.
In their natural state, they are good for humans, but not for dogs. Small quantities of grapes and raisins can cause renal failure in dogs.
#OTD On this day in 1873, bryologist William Starling Sullivant died.
Sullivant was born to the founding family of Franklinton, Ohio. His father, Lucas, was a surveyor and had named the town in honor of the recently deceased Benjamin Franklin. The settlement would become Columbus.
In 1823, William Sullivant graduated from Yale College, his father would die in August of that same year.
Sullivant took over his father's surveying business, and at the age of thirty, he began to study and catalog the plant life in Central Ohio.
In 1840, he published his flora and then he started to hone in on his calling: mosses.
Bryology is the study of mosses. The root, bryōs is a Greek verb meaning to swell. It's etymology of the word embryo. Bryology will be easier to remember if you think of the ability of moss to swell as it takes on water.
As a distinguished bryologist, Sullivant not only studied and cataloged various mosses from across the United States, but also from as far away as Central America, South America, and from various islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Mosses suited Sullivant's strengths; requiring patience and close observation, scrupulous accuracy, and discrimination. His first work, Musci Alleghanienses, was:
"exquisitely prepared and mounted, and with letterpress of great perfection; ... It was not put on sale, but fifty copies were distributed with a free hand among bryologists and others who would appreciate it."
In 1864, Sullivant published his magnum opus, Icones Muscorum. With 129 truly excellent illustrations and descriptions of the mosses indigenous to eastern North America, Icones Muscorum fixed Sulivant's reputation as the pre-eminent American bryologist of his time.
In 1873, Sullivant contracted pneumonia - ironically, an illness where your lungs fill or swell with fluid - and he died on April 30, 1873.
During the last four decades of his life, Sullivant exchanged letters with Asa Gray. It's no wonder, then, that he left his herbarium of some 18,000 moss specimens to Gray's beloved Harvard University.
When Gray summoned his curator at Cambridge, Leo Lesquereux, to help Sullivant, he wrote to botanist John Torrey:
"They will do up bryology at a great rate. Lesquereux says that the collection and library of Sullivant in muscology are magnifique, superbe, and the best he ever saw.'"
On December 6, 1857, Gray wrote to Hooker,
"A noble fellow is [William Starling] Sullivant, and deserves all you say of him and his works. The more you get to know of him, the better you will like him."
In 1877, four years after Sullivant's death, Asa Gray wrote to Charles Darwin. Gray shared that Sullivant was his "dear old friend" and that,
"[Sullivant] did for muscology in this country more than one man is likely ever to do again."
The Sullivant Moss Society, which became the American Bryological and Lichenological Society, was founded in 1898 and was named for William Starling Sullivant.
#OTD On this day in 1943, the noted botanist who became president of Huguenot College in South Africa and founded of the South African Association of University Women; Bertha Stoneman died.
"It was the courtesy, culture and hospitality of certain Africans that held me... there."
"South Africa provides 42 species of native asparagus. Why should it not be cultivated as a vegetable?...There are fine citrus fruits, avocado, pears, figs, mangoes, and paw-paws...You need not seek employment.Employ yourself.Come soon, and you will be warmly and courteously welcomed."
If Bertha Stoneman were my biology teacher at school,maybe I would've considered choosing the subject for the final three years.In the opening chapter of Plants and their ways in South Africa, a 1906 textbook for school biology,her introduction ranges from the baking of bread to the Wonderboom in Pretoria,with a final encouragement regarding Latin names:‘‘...the reader may skip any name in this book longer than Hermanuspetrusfontein.”
"She entered with enthusiasm into all phases of [college] life, seeming equally at home on the hockey-field, as captain of a team, or in dramatics, writing, and coaching plays... We... are not surprised to learn that she has written many a song for Huguenot College, including its "Alma Mater."
[Tune—“ Sweet and Low."]
Joyfully, joyfully, ever of thee we'll sing,
Loyally, loyally, honor to thee we’ll bring :
“ Earnest for truth " shall our life’s effort be.
Time shall unite us still closer to thee,
[Wisdom] from thee shall come.
Lend thy beams afar.
Shine, thou brilliant Star,
Shine. Thou our Queen, pure, serene.
Ever our hearts wilt cheer.
While with thee never we
Danger or care shall fear.
Knowing our sorrows, thou’lt help us to bear.
And widen rejoicing, our joys thou wilt share.
Thou, our noble Queen.
As we honor thee, we shall sing of thee.
#OTD It's the birthday of botanist and USDA agronomist Samuel Mills Tracy, born in 1847.
Born in Hartford, Vermont, Tracy's family eventually settled in Wisconsin. At the start of the Civil War , he enlisted with the Union Army, served with a branch of the Wisconsin Volunteers. After the war, he started farming; but then a year later, he decided to go to college. Tracy wound up getting a Master's from Michigan State Agricultural College.
By 1877, Tracy secured a Professor of Botany spot at the University of Missouri.
A decade later, he was hired as first Director of the Mississippi Experiment Station.
Tracy is perhaps best known for his two works Flora of Missouri and The Flora of Southern United States.
#OTD On this day in 1827, Scottish botanist David Douglas (Sponsored by Sir William Hooker), took a break from collecting for the Royal Botanic Institution of Glasgow.
After breakfast at one o’clock... I became desirous of ascending one of the peaks, and accordingly I set out alone on snowshoes ... The labour of ascending the lower part, which is covered with pines, is great beyond description, sinking on many occasions to the middle.
Halfway up vegetation ceases entirely, not so much a vestige of moss or lichen on the stones.
Here I found it less laborious as I walked on the hard crust.
One-third from the summit it becomes a mountain of pure ice, sealed far over by Nature’s hand ...
...The ascent took me five hours; ... This peak, the highest yet known in the northern continent of America, I feel a sincere pleasure in naming Mount Brown, in honor of Robert Brown, the illustrious botanist... A little to the southward is one nearly the same height, rising into a sharper point. This I named Mount Hooker [after his sponsor, William Hooker] ..."
Douglas' trip was a success; he collected over 200 new plants.
Douglas was the first Englishman to bring back cones of the Sugar Pine, the Lodgepole Pine, the Ponderosa Pine, and, of course, the Douglas-fir. Within a year of his return in 1827, they would all would all be growing in English gardens and on Scottish estates.
Special Note: The Douglas-fir is not a true fir, which is why it is spelled with a hyphen. Anytime you see a hyphen in the common name , you know it's not a true member of the genus.
Mastering the Art of Vegetable Gardening is your "201" level course in cultivating produce. Expand your knowledge base and discover options that go beyond the ordinary!
Today's Garden Chore
Diversify your tulip plantings for next Spring: If you garden south of zone 7, try Tulip Turkestanica.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
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