#OTD Today is National Pick Strawberries Day
Last year, instead of annual hanging baskets, I installed hanging strawberry baskets over my herb garden. They turned out great and it was fun to harvest (and eat) strawberries as I worked in the garden. There is undeniably something extra special about the taste of a sun-warmed strawberry picked straight off of the vine. Between me and my student gardeners, there weren't many strawberries left to bring in the house. Still, it was a fun alternative to an annual basket and I think I'll do it again this year.
Strawberries are members of the rose family and they are unique in that their seeds are on the outside of the fruit.
In the late 18th century, the first strawberries were grown in France.
It's sweet to read early newspaper accounts of strawberries during the 1800s.
In 1843 the New York daily Herald announced that the first strawberries went to Pattinson's on the corner of Ann and Nausau, and they reported that they were as red as the last day. It also noted that strawberries were selling in Baltimore at $.03-$.06 a quart for the best; While green peas were abundant - selling for two shillings a peck.
Twenty years later, the first strawberries were announced in this adorable newspaper account out of Columbus Ohio - from the Daily Ohio Statesman, on May 27, 1864. Here's what it said:
"The first strawberries of the season were visible to the naked eye in Charlie Wagner's show window yesterday– a window, by the way, in which everything new in the fruit line is always first seen in Columbus."
Finally, in an article in The Woodstock Mercury out of Woodstock ,Vermont on July 27, 1854, strawberries made the list of a notable firsts that bring joy to life:
"First things are good or bad, as it may happen or as you take them. The first shad or the sleighing, the first strawberries or first child, the first kiss of love or first pair of whiskers, these may be ranged among the primordial delights."
#OTD On this day in 2003, garden designer Paul Martin won a silver medal at London’s Chelsea Flower Show. His garden was called 'Lazy Salad Days'.
Martin featured 25 varieties of salad plants in a five by four-and-a-half metre garden space, which also incorporated two tasteful wooden-slatted loungers. Martin beat 11 other competitors to get the silver medal and was the only Irish exhibitor at Chelsea that year.
Unearthed Words : Song on May Morning by John Milton, 1608 - 1674
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
Woods and groves are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.
Thoreau's Walden (1854) is regarded both as a masterpiece of American prose and as a forerunner of modern environmentalism. Its author spent much of the 1850s learning what botany could teach him about the New England woods he chronicled. Thoreau brought that knowledge to bear on this sometimes very beautiful essay about plants, fruits and nuts, left incomplete at his death in 1862 and here printed for the first time.
Thoreau's brief preface to Wild Fruits begins where Walden left off: ""What are all the oranges imported into England to the hips and haws in her hedges?"
This book is arranged by fruit: beginning with elm-fruit (""most mistake the fruit before it falls for leaves, and we owe to it the first deepening of the shadows in our streets""), and proceeds through several dozen entries to sassafras, skunk cabbage, strawberries, cranberries, juniper berries and, finally, "winter fruits."
Today's Garden Chore
If you don't know where to start, focus on the edges of your garden.
Tidying up the edges is a quick way to get an instant, positive, cleaned-up look to the garden. Once the edges are addressed, you can begin to move back into the beds where your work may not be as noticeable but it is just as important.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
"My dear friend,
You have, no doubt, noticed and regretted my long silence. There was no post to bring me your letters in the wilderness of Australia, through which I was endeavoring to penetrate in a North West direction, nor to carry those epistles which I should have enjoyed to address to you.
Thank God, my efforts have met with success, and I was preserved in the hours of danger...
You may easily suppose that I lost no opportunity of making botanical collections...
But you must bear this in mind, my good friend, ... it was not my lot to travel all at my ease...
On the contrary, I was compelled to do everything; I was alike leader of the party and bullock driver, and I had to load and unload three beasts of burthen, often several times in the day. All the cares of such a position were laid upon me ; mine were the anxieties during the hour of difficulty and peril. To arrange our camp, deal out provision, kill the bullocks, and mend the harness, to compile the log and day-book of our route, to determine the latitude and longitude, and to keep nightly watch, all these various and ever-recurring occupations devolved upon me.
.... Gladly would I have made drawings of my plants, and noted fully all particulars of the different species which I saw ; and how valuable would such memoranda have been... [as] four of my pack-horses having been drowned.
Botanical and geological specimens thus abandoned—how disappointing! From four to five thousand plants were thus sacrificed...
I hope my next expedition will be a famous one for botany... Oh, that my friend Durando could accompany me!
When I come home, I trust to be laden like a bee ; for the northwest is the district in which to look for a remarkable Flora, where the Australian types are blended with those of India...
I hear that Humboldt has at length published his Cosmos, but I have not seen the book.
You perceive that I use the English language for my letter ; the long period of bush-life has rendered my French very rusty; but when I return from my next trip, I trust to regain my fluency in that noble language. My journal of the journey to Port Essington is now in hand, and will be completed, I expect, in eight weeks more.
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"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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