May 6, 2019 Warm Night Temperatures, Jean Senebier, Lomatium, Alexander Von Humboldt, Temperate House, Massachusetts Hort Society, Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature, Mother’s Day Flowers, and the Hudson Garden Club

We are on the cusp of consecutive warm nights.

Warm soil temps will take a few more weeks.

Recently, I had a gardener ask me about their hearty hibiscus that was planted last year. They were worried it wasn't coming back.

In Minnesota, gardeners often start to freak out a bit if they don't see signs of life during these first sunny days in May.

But remember, warmer weather plants won't start to do their thing until soil temps warm-up. The soil temp has about a 2-3 week lag on the night time air temp.





#OTD On this day in 1742, Jean Senebier, a Swiss pastor and botanist, was born.

Where would we be without Senebier?

Still breathing... but not realizing that carbon dioxide is consumed by plants and, in turn, that plants produce oxygen as part of the process of photosynthesis.

In a nutshell, Senebier’s work is crucial because he had learned the function of leaves: capturing carbon for food. Before Senebier, the purpose of leaves and what they did for plants and people was unknown.

It was Jean Senebier who said,

"Observation and experiment are two sisters who help each other."




#OTD Today, in 1806, along the banks of Idaho’s Clearwater River, Lewis and Clark discovered the Nine-leaf lomatium, Lomatium triternatum.

A species of flowering plant in the carrot family and known by the common name nine leaf biscuitroot, the nine-leaf lomatium is so-named because each leaf divides into three narrow leaflets that, in turn, divided into three more (triternatum, from the Latin, means “three times three”).

Lewis and Clark collected many varieties of lomatiums, which are found only west of the Mississippi River.

Lomatiums are used by herbalists as a remedy for viral illnesses. In 2018, the NIH reported the case of a woman who had taken lomatium extract - marked LDM-100 - for the flu and ended up with a severe rash all over her body for a week. The title of the article, "Worse than the Disease? The Rash of Lomatium Dissectum"



#OTD On this day in 1859, the naturalist and botanist Alexander Von Humboldt died; he was 89 years old.

In 1806, Friedrich Georg Weitsch painted his portrait; two years after he returned from his five-year research trip through Central and South America. Humboldt didn't go alone; he was accompanied by the French botanist Aimé Bonplant in 1799. Weitsch painted a romantic, idealized vista of Ecuador as the setting for the painting. Humboldt had climbed the Chimborazo Mountain in Ecuador, believed at the time to be the highest mountain in the world, so perhaps Weitsch imaged Humboldt viewing the landscape from Chimborazo. Surrounded by a jungle paradise, a large palm shades Humboldt's resting spot. In the painting, a very handsome Humboldt is seated on a large boulder, his top hat is resting upside down on the boulder behind him. Weitsch shows the 37-year-old Humboldt wearing a puffy shirt that would make Seinfeld jealous, a pinkish-orange vest, and tan breeches. In his lap, he holds open the large leather-bound Flora he is working on, and in his right hand, he has a specimen of "Rhexia seciosa"(aka Meriania speciosa). A large barometer leans against the boulder in the lower-left corner of the painting. It symbolized Humboldt’s principle of measuring environmental data while collecting and describing plants.

King Ferdinand was so pleased with the portrait that he hung it in the Berlin Palace. that he ordered two more paintings to be made featuring Humboldt's time in the Americas

Humboldt was a polymath; he made contributions across many of the sciences. He made a safety lamp for miners. He discovered the Peru Current (aka the Humboldt Current. He believed South America and Africa had been joined together geographically at one time. He named the "torrid zone,"; the area of the earth near the equator. Apropos the area he was exploring, torrid means hot, blistering, scorching. He went to Russia, and it was there that he predicted the location of the first Russian diamond deposits.

Humboldt was also a pragmatist. It was the Great Alexandre Von Humboldt who said:

"Spend for your table less than you can afford, for your house rent just what you can afford, and for your dress more than you can afford."

Humboldt developed his own theory for the web of life. "The aims I strive for are an understanding of nature as a whole, proof of the working together of all the species of nature," Humboldt wrote.

"Everything is Interaction," he noted in his Mexican diary in 1803.



#OTD After a five-year, £41 million restoration Temperate House re-opened to the public on this day in 2018.

The ironwork was stripped and repainted with many coats, 15,000 pains of glass were replaced, 69,000 sections of metal, stone, and timber repaired or replaced

Home to 10,000 plants - some are the world’s rarest and most threatened plants - Kew's Temperate House is the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world.




Unearthed Words

#OTD  On this day The annual meeting of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society was held at Horticultural Hall at 3:00 p.m. on May 6, 1946.

Here's an excerpt from their delightful minutes:

From the President's Address:

At the end of the war we were met with this question, "Will interest in gardening continue to grow or will there be a falling off ... with the coming of peace and a greater opportunity for other recreational pursuits?"

We proceeded on the assumption that fewer vegetable gardens would be made but that, on the other hand, a greater number of people than ever before would turn their attention to the growing of ornamental plants...

It is a duty for each one of us to plant a home garden. Membership in the Society has shown a remarkable growth and now numbers well over 8,000. Our magazine Horticulture has been remarkably successful in attracting members for the Society from all parts of the country.


Report of the Secretary

Interest in horticultural pursuits is steadily increasing, if it can be measured by the increase in membership shown by this Society in the past year.

Twelve months ago we had 7,200 members. As of today, the Society has 8,151 members.

Membership figures are always of interest as indicating trends.

The high point of this Society was in 1938, when the total membership was slightly greater than 9,000. Ten thousand members was the goal at that time but, because of the necessity of increasing revenue, the dues were raised from $2.00 to $3.00 a year.

This increase in dues was followed by an immediate drop in membership which continued until 1942 when the Society reached its low point of the last decade with a membership of 6,633.

Since that time it has been climbing steadily, year by year, and it seems reasonable to believe that in another year or two the 9,000 mark will again be reached.

The present figure is, of course, far beyond that of any similar organization in the country, although it is pleasant to learn that the New York and Pennsylvania societies are also showing an upward trend.

Edward I. Farrington Secretary.


Report of the Library Committee

Almost all the events and developments of 1945-1946 center... upon our return to peace-time living.

In the reading room, for instance, visitors are no longer predominantly in uniform.

The questions a year ago were often about the plants of the Pacific areas or what a gardener should visit while stationed in Boston.

Now they are most often on the design of small home properties, the choice of good plant materials, the fine points of flower gardening, or the management of a greenhouse.




Today's book recommendation: The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf

"The Invention of Nature" reveals the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and how he created the way we understand nature today. Though almost forgotten today, his name lingers everywhere from the Humboldt Current to the Humboldt penguin. Humboldt was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age.

His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether climbing the highest volcanoes in the world, paddling down the Orinoco, or racing through anthrax–infested Siberia. Perceiving nature as an interconnected global force, Humboldt discovered similarities between climate zones across the world and predicted human-induced climate change.

He turned scientific observation into poetic narrative, and his writings inspired naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth, and Goethe but also politicians such as Jefferson. Wulf also argues that it was Humboldt’s influence that led John Muir to his ideas of preservation, and that shaped Thoreau’s ‘Walden.’

Wulf traces Humboldt’s influences through the great minds he inspired in revolution, evolution, ecology, conservation, art, and literature. In The Invention of Nature, Wulf brings this lost hero to science and the forgotten father of environmentalism back to life.




Today's Garden Chore

If you're a mom, Mother's day is coming up. Start thinking about the colors and plants you'd like for your front containers and then make a list for your kids.

You can give them some license as well - ask the plants person to help you find something green and viney, or purple and tall, and so forth. For years, I did this with my kids, and they spent a decade of Mother's Days helping me plant their annuals in the front planters and hanging baskets. It was a fantastic photo op, a wonderful way to get them involved in setting the stage for the beauty around the front door and getting them to notice annuals — many happy memories with this chore.




Something Sweet

to revive the botanical spark in your heart

#OTD On this day, last year the Hudson, Massachusetts Garden Club celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

The club began in 1968 as a group of sixteen friends and neighbors who shared a love of flowers and gardening. (Grace Adams, Helen Doyle, Phyllis Dyson, Peggy Gilroy, Elvira Jacobs, Sandra Joyce, Sharon Kearney, Teresa Landry, Jean Laviano, Waldro Lynch, Arline Parker, Jeanne Piecewicz, Viola Ross, Claire Shepard, Jeanne Simkins, and Cynthia Sylvia). Today the club has 41 members, and the club's purpose is to promote interest in gardening, horticulture, conservation, and floral arranging, as well as serve the community in civic betterment.

It's a lovely thing to combine your love for gardening and beautifying the community - all while having a good time.

All are welcome to join the club, and members are not required to reside in Hudson. For more information, contact Diane Durand at 978-621-9665 or Patricia Main at 978-562-6910.




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