May 8, 2019 Plant Problems, the US Botanic Garden, Emil Christian Hansen, Paul Kremer, Veggie by Orbitec, Sir David Attenborough, Chris Woods, Gardenlust, Angelica archangelica, and a 1912 Recipe for Rhubarb Pudding

Do you know the saying bad things come in threes?

The dishwasher stops working. You get in a car accident. Your credit card gets stolen. Well, when it comes to our plants, like us, they can be experiencing a constellation of problems as well. Yet, we often see plants as far less complex, minimizing their needs to a singular solution.

"It just needs more sun." "Better drainage will do the trick."

Instead of just trying one solution, consider that maybe multiple changes are needed.




#OTD On this day in 1820, President James Monroe signed a bill granting “a tract of public land in the City of Washington, not exceeding five acres" for America's botanic garden.

Monroe genuinely liked the idea, and he agreed to let them place the botanic garden on property adjacent to the Capitol on the west. Work was started to clear and drain the soggy land, and trees were planted. By 1827, Secretary of the Treasury Richard Rush circulated a letter to foreign dignitaries calling for, "all such trees and plants from other countries not heretofore known in the United States, as may give promise, under proper cultivation, of flourishing and becoming useful... .” The letter included detailed instructions for preparing seeds and plants for travel so that they could be propagated in the Botanic Garden.

In 1856, Congress officially named the United States Botanic Garden and established regular funding to nurture its growth.




#OTD It's the birthday of botanist Emil Christian Hansen, born today in 1842.

Prior to Hansen, brewing was a volatile experiment, and batches could easily get infected with the disease. Hansen forever changed the brewing industry with his discovery of a way to separate pure yeast cells from wild yeast cells.

Hansen's method was created while he was working for the Carlsberg Laboratory. Carlsberg Labs did not patent the process. Instead, they decided to publish it. They shared a detailed explanation so that brewers anywhere could build propagation equipment and use the method.

Hansen named the yeast after the lab– Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis – and samples of Carlsberg No. 1 (as it was called) were sent to breweries around the world by request and free of charge. Within five years, most European breweries were using Carlsberg No. 1. By 1892, American breweries, Pabst, Schlitz, and Anheuser-Busch, were manufacturing their beers with pure yeast strains.

Hansen was a renaissance man. At various points in his life, he attempted careers, an actor, a portrait artist, a teacher, an author (he wrote under a pseudonym). And it was Emil Hansen who made the first Danish translation of Charles Darwin’s Voyage of The Beagle.




#OTD On this day in 1904 botanist Paul J. Kremer was born.

Kremer spent his childhood on a farm in Ohio, and he got his advanced degrees at Ohio State getting his M.S. (1929) and Ph.D. (1931) degrees in plant physiology. At Ohio State, he learned of the importance of the relationship between plants and water relations.

After graduating, Dr. Kramer joined the faculty of Duke University. He taught at Duke his entire career until his retirement in 1974. Kremer served as the James B. Duke Professor of Botany. Kramer influenced the careers of more than 40 graduate students and authored more than 200 publications. Building on his studies at Ohio State, Kramer developed a leading research center on plant water relations and tree physiology.

Kramer recognized the difficulty of studying environmental stresses on plants because the variables are so interconnected Light, temperature, and humidity being so interdependent that a change in one affects the others. This lead Kramer to establish a controlled-environment laboratory to study and quantify plant responses. He set up labs for this purpose at the University of Wisconsin and at Duke and North Carolina State University. Kramer's efforts were part of a growing trend in curiosity about the effects of environmental stresses on plants - an ongoing concern as scientists study climate change.




#OTD On this day in 2014, the Veggie Plant Growth System was activated on the International Space Station.

“Veggie” was the first fresh food production system, and it was developed by Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wisconsin, and tested at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The purpose of Veggie is to provide a self-sufficient and sustainable food source for astronauts as well as a means of recreation and relaxation through therapeutic gardening.

In 2018 one of the goals of the Veggie-3 experiment was to grow food for crew consumption. Crops tested included cabbage, lettuce, and mizuna.



Unearthed Words

It's the birthday of famed naturalist and television personality Sir David Frederick Attenborough born today in 1926, in a suburb of London, England.

It was Sir David Attenborough who all of these marvelous quotes:

"I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored."

"There are some four million different kinds of animals and plants in the world. Four million different solutions to the problems of staying alive."

"I can't pretend that I got involved with filming the natural world fifty years ago because I had some great banner to carry about conservation - not at all, I always had a huge pleasure in just watching the natural world and seeing what happens."

"I don't run a car, have never run a car. I could say that this is because I have this extremely tender environmentalist conscience, but the fact is I hate driving."

"About 70 or 80 men jumped onto the track, brandishing knives and spears. To say I was alarmed is to put it mildly… I walked towards this screaming horde of men, I stuck out my hand, and I heard myself say 'good afternoon.' "



Today's Book Recommendation: Gardenlust: A Botanical Tour of the World’s Best New Gardens by Christopher Woods

Tonight the Northwest Horticultural Society in Seattle Washington will host Christopher Woods as part of their Wednesday Evening Lecture Series starting at 6:45 pm at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

Members: $5.00 Non-Members: $10.00

Gardenlust: A Botanical Tour of the World’s Best New Gardens by Christopher Woods is a fascinating read. The cover shows a garden that's at the Golden Rock Inn in Nevis. The gardens were designed by Miami-based designer Raymond Jungles under the stewardship of New York artists Helen and Brice Marden, the owners of Golden Rock.

After a long career in public horticulture, Chris Woods spent three years traveling the world seeking out contemporary gardens, and he found fifty of the best. His book is a botanical tour of the world's best new gardens - public, private, and corporate. Chris focuses on the gardens around the world that had been created or significantly altered -this century, the 21st century. Chris views the gardens through a variety of themes, including beauty, conservation, architecture - plant and landscape, as well as urban spaces.

Chris's book was published in late September, and it's such a great reminder for us to get out of our own gardens and go see and learn from other gardens - especially public gardens.

Gardens Illustrated called it An extraordinary collection of 21st-century gardens that will arouse wanderlust… Whether you are a garden globetrotter or an armchair explorer, this book is definitely one to add to your collection.

With wit and humor, he describes the most arresting features in public parks in exotic locations like New Delhi and Dubai, mission-redefining botanic gardens in Chile and Australia, and the most enviable details of lavish private estates and gemlike city yards. Throughout, he reveals the fascinating people, plants, and stories that make these gardens so lust-worthy.

If you're in Seattle tonight, don't miss the opportunity to learn about the most intriguing, beautiful gardens around the world. Doors open at 6 PM for plant sales and socializing with the presentation beginning at 6:45 PM.




Today's Garden Chore

Plant Angelica archangelica.

Also known as Angelica root (Angelica archangelica) is the herb used to flavor Dubonnet, Bénédictine, and Vermouth. Quite honestly, if we were bees, we'd need a license to sell it; bees and pollinators go positively mad for it.

It has so much natural sugar that Martha Washington once shared a recipe for how to candy it.

One explanation for the archangelica part of its name is that according to folklore, it blooms on this day - the day of Michael the Archangel, and it was believed to be a preservative against evil spirits and witchcraft.

All parts of the plant were believed efficacious against spells and enchantment. It was held in such esteem that it was called 'The Root of the Holy Ghost.'




Something Sweet

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

It's rhubarb time! Here's a delightful rhubarb pudding recipe from The Boston Globe from June 3, 1912.

Rhubarb Pudding

Arrange in layers and a buttered baking dish:
2 cups of breadcrumbs which have been soaked in water
2 cups of rhubarb
The grated rind of 1 lemon
Half cup of scalded raisins
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of butter cut into tiny bits
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top
Sprinkle with buttered crumbs
Cover and bake 1 hour in a moderate oven



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and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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