Take sandpaper or a nail file and nick those nasturtium seeds before you soak them overnight; then sow them outside. They grow well in poor soil. The leaves and flowers are edible and are great in salads.
Ten years ago, in 2009, a violin made from a dying sycamore tree in Conan Doyle's garden was played to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth. The violin was a nod to Conan Doyle's creation, Sherlock Holmes, who played the violin while solving cases.
If you search for "Conan Doyle Garden" on twitter, you'll see a fantastic photographic portrait of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sitting at a table in his garden with his Irish terrier Paddy sitting beside him on a bench.
Doyle and his wife, Jean, purchased a quaint, thatched cottage they called Bignell House. Running along the boundary of the garden was a trout stream and it also had a wicket gate leading directly to the forest. There was a miniature golf course and a croquet lawn. Jean added a number of garden gnomes and statuary to the garden.
The Doyles were spiritualists. They believed in garden fairies, pixies, and elves. During the First World War, when two girls took created fake photographs of fairies, Doyle fell for the pictures. They inspired him to write The Coming of the Fairies a book making the case for the existence of fairies.
The garden influenced Doyle's writing. He wrote about monkshood and other poisonous plants. When he has his character John Watson write a list of Sherlock Holmes limitations; Watson mentions he knew nothing of practical gardening however, he did note that Sherlock was, "Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally." In The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet, Sherlock Holmes solves the case thanks to footprints in the garden.
In Doyle's Through the Magic Door, he wrote about the value of understanding botany:
"A very little botany will enable you to recognize every flower you are likely to meet in your walks abroad, and to give you a tiny thrill of interest when you chance upon one which is beyond your ken.
In an interview with Doyle published in The Strand Magazine in march 1919, he shares his understanding of an odd message that had come to him during a séance. It said, "Food comes before etymology." He said,
"On the day before that on which I attended this seance, I had told my two little boys, aged nine and seven (these are children of Sir Arthur's second marriage) that they must go to work and kill all the caterpillars and other predatory insects in our garden. They were not inclined to do it, for they are very tender-hearted little fellows, but I explained to them that these insects were just as much a menace to our food supply as the German submarines then were. They understood the necessity then, and started at once. So now you can see the significance of the message that I received : 'Food comes before entomology,' "
Aside from his belief in the supernatural, Doyle greatly enjoyed being in his garden. He did most of his writing in the garden. He once remarked, "What a lovely thing a rose is!"
And, Doyle once gave a speech heartily supporting the Early Rising Bill or Daylight Saving Bill which was published in the Daily Mail on April 21, 1909, where he stated:
Meier studied the relationship between sunlight and algae at the Radiation Biology Laboratory (RBL), a part of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO).
"In the early days, scientists traveled between floors of the tower by climbing up and down a ladder through a trapdoor, often carrying trays of specimens or scientific equipment. In 1929, a very small elevator was installed in the tower to make the trip safer and easier."
Today in 1885, Victor Hugo died; the author of the Hunchback of Notre-Dame as well as Les Miserables.
A gardener, Hugo had many wonderful garden-inspired quotes:
"Life is the flower for which love is the honey."
"Sorrow is a fruit. God does not make it grow on limbs too weak to bear it."
“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in--what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
"How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said."
If you are looking to refresh your garden, or simply looking for Inspiration, Jan Johnsen’s new book, Gardentopia: Design Basics for Creating Beautiful Outdoor Spaces, is the perfect choice.
Jan's a fabulous designer and a popular speaker. She was featured on The Still Growing Gardening Podcast in Episode 588 and Jan is such a delight. She's a pragmatist, highly intuitive, and she's known for her positive and collaborative approach to “co-creating with nature."
In her book, solutions are divided into five categories: Garden Design and Artful Accents" , Walls, Patios, Walks and Steps, Theme Gardens, Color in the Garden and Plants and Planting.
There's plenty to inspire gardeners - the cover is spectacular, the advice is fantastic - this should be on your wish list and on your go-to gardener gift list for 2019 and beyond.
Today's Garden Chore
"But, I added, in my reply to my correspondent, why restrict your rosebeds to a mere edging? Why not allow plants to encroach all over the beds? It will do the roses no harm; in fact, it will supply a living mulch to keep the ground moist and the roses cool at the root."
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
In researching Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I learned that the Spring before he died, Conan Doyle was bedridden. However, one morning, unattended, he got up and managed to go out to the garden. His family found him lying on the ground with one hand clutching his heart and the other holding a single white snowdrop. He languished until July 7, 1930, when he passed away with his family at his bedside. His last words were to his wife. He whispered, "You are wonderful."
Newspaper accounts shared that, on a beautiful summer day, he was buried in the garden where he had been so much at home - beside his garden hut, which was erected for him as a writing room.
Over 200 people attended the funeral. So many wreaths were sent from all over the world that they were spread over the large paddock west of the home; covering an acre of land with blooms.
When Conan Doyle's coffin had been placed in the grave, "Lady Doyle kissed a rose and threw it in."
Lady Jean Conan Doyle continued to live at Windlesham until her death on 27th June 1940, she was buried next to Sir Arthur.
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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