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May 28, 2019 Unkind Garden Advice, William Herbert, Hippeastrum, Carl Richard Nyberg, Amaryllis and Alteo, Amaryllis Poem, Minta Collins, Medieval Herbs, Exposed Tree Roots and the Wentworth Lilacs of New Hampshire

Gardeners.
 
Horticultural experts.
 
Professors, even.
 
On the garden path, you can, from time to time, run into people that decimate you faster than a Japanese Beetle on green beans.
 
Let's just set one thing straight. Gardening is good for you, but people who give garden advice can be bad for you. 
 
What they fail to realize is that gardening is an activity of the head AND the heart.
 
I'm here to tell you, gardening is the absolute most wonderful pastime. But don't let anyone diminish your love for it. If the folks giving you advice aren't respectful, helpful, or loving - they shouldn't be in the business of helping people garden. The world needs every gardener it can get. The best thing you can give a gardener is encouragement.
 
 

Brevities

 

 

#OTD It's the death day of William Herbert (12 January 1778 – 28 May 1847). 
 
He was a British botanist, a distinguished scholar and poet, an Amaryllis breeder, and a clergyman who eventually became the first Dean of Manchester; the head of the Chapter of Manchester Cathedral.
 
In 1837, Herbert wrote a book about the Amaryllidaceae ("am-uh-ril-id-AY-see-ee") or the Amaryllis ("am-uh-RIL-us") family.  The Amaryllis was named after Virgil's shepherdess Amarysso from Greek mythology, meaning "to sparkle".
 
Nearly two decades earlier,  Herbert had split the genera in two – creating one genera for the original Amaryllis genera named by Linnaeus and for the other genera for what he called the Hippeastrum ("hip-ee-ASS-trum").
 
He explained his actions in writing saying:
 
"Many years ago,...when I  distinguished this genus,... I retained for it the name Amaryllis, and proposed that of Coburghia for Belladonna and Blanda. I was not then aware that Linnaeus had given the name Amaryllis to Belladonna, with a playful reason assigned; but as soon as I learned it, I felt, ... that the jeu d'esprit of a distinguished man ought not to be superceded, and that and that no continental botanist would submit to the change. I therefore restored the name Amaryllis to Belladonna, and gave that of Hippeastrum or Equestrian star to this genus, following up the idea of Linnaeus when he named one of the original species equestre."
 
Hippeastrum is Greek; hippeus for rider and astron for star - thus, "horseman's star". Gardeners surmise that the closed buds of the flower look something like a horse's ear and the blossoms are shaped like six-pointed stars.
 
 
As is often the case in horticulture, the more popular name didn't end up with the more popular genus. The the original Amaryllis genus ended up with only one species - the belladonna - although another species has been discovered.  Meanwhile the Hippeastrum genus has a whopping 90 species and over 600 cultivars. It's clearly more significant, botanically speaking, after being hybridized in the 19th century. Thus, it's the hippeastrum genera that gives us the large bulbs we pot up in the winter and lovingly call by their common name: Amaryllis... but they are really Hippeastrum. So this November, when you're potting up your Amaryllis, think to yourself - Hip Hip Hooray - it's Hippeastrum day!
 
What's the likelihood that actually happens?
Yeah. It doesn't roll off the tongue, does it?
 
The confusion about the two different genera stems from the fact that folks didn't like and don't like saying Hippeastrum.
 
When the change was announced, the eminent horticultural empire builder, Harry Veitch challenged it eloquently when he said,
 
"Are we wrong in continuing to call these grand flowers after the name of the Virgilian nymph, and should we therefore drop the pleasing appellative with which they have been almost indissolubly connected from our earliest memory, and substitute the rougher Hippeastrum for the softer Amaryllis?'
 
Veitch was not alone. The century growers from the infamous bulb families refused to go along with the name change. To this day, the bulbs are exported from the Netherlands in crates clearly marked Amaryllis.
 
Yet, William Herbert is remembered fondly through the ages. The genus Herbertia of Sweet - a small genus in the Iris Family - commemorated him.
 
Charles Darwin wrote about Herbert in the On the Origin of Species (1859):
 In regard to plants, no one has treated this subject with more spirit and ability than W. Herbert, Dean of Manchester, evidently the result of his great horticultural knowledge.

And, the International Bulb Society awards The Herbert Medal to people who advance the knowledge of bulbous plants.

 
 

#OTD It's the birthday of Carl Richard Nyberg (May 28, 1858, – 1939) the Swede who created the blowtorch which in turn led to the flame weeder.
 
Nyberg worked in various industrial companies, eventually landing at J. E. Eriksons Mekanikus. While he was there, he came up with the idea for the blowtorch. He built a prototype complete with safety features.
 
Convinced he was on to something, he quit his job at Eriksons in 1882 and set up a workshop in Stockholm making blowtorches.  Nyberg hadn't set up efficient production and he didn't have a dedicated or trained sales team.  It flopped.
 
Four years later, in 1886, he met a man named Max Sievert at a country fair. They struck up a conversation and Sievert was savvy enough to know realize the potential of Nyberg's blowtorch.  Seivert started selling it and Nyberg was back in business.
 
This time, Nyberg diversified. He made blowtorches as well as small paraffin oil and kerosene stoves.
 
Nyberg's company went public in 1906 and Nyberg gave his employees stock in the company. Known as "Nybergs snobbar" or Nyberg's snobs, Nyberg's employees were better off than their peers in other companies. In 1922 Nyberg's old friend, Max Sievert, bought the company and he continued to own it until 1964 when it was bought by Esso.
 
Although Nyberg worked on countless other inventions, his heart actually belonged to aviation. He became known as "Flyg-Nyberg" (Flying-Nyberg). For over two decades beginning in the late 1800's, he built and tested his plane, the Flugan (The Fly) on a circular wood track in his garden.  Nyberg was the first to test his design in a wind tunnel and the first to build an airplane hangar. Despite his inability to get his invention to fly, the fact he attempted it at all was something of a miracle; Nyberg was afraid of heights.
 
 
 

Unearthed Words

Greek mythology tells the story of Amaryllis, who was a lovestruck shepherdess.

She met a handsome shepherd on the mountainside. His name was Alteo and she fell in love with him. But, the problem was that Alteo had a heart only for flowers. Oh, to be one of his beloved blossoms!

Amaryllis went to the Oracle at Delphi who gave her a Golden arrow. The Oracle told Amaryllis that each night she must dress all in white and stand outside Alteo's house. Then she must pierce her own heart with the Golden arrow and knock on Alteo's door. For 29 nights, Alteo slept soundly, never hearing Amaryllis cry out; never hearing her knock at his door.

But, on the 30th night, Alteo awoke to her cry, and when she knocked on his door, he opened it. There, Amaryllis stood in her white gown. Her heart was fully healed and on the ground, wherever her blood has been shed, were the most magnificent scarlet flowers Alteo had ever seen. Alteo knelt before her and pledged his undying love to Amaryllis. Now, every holiday season, we watch the Amaryllis bloom and we are reminded of the wonder and the power of love; which is the strongest power of all - stronger than even death.

Here's a little poem I wrote about the Amaryllis:

 

Amaryllis by Jennifer Ebeling

 

Amaryllis is so sweet and fair,

A name that's true; beyond compare.

Though Herbert made the genera split,

He picked a name we'd soon   forget

So goche, it starts with hippeasst,

In the game of names, it   comes in last

Rather follow like sheep where Linnaeus led,

Honoring a shepherdess who willing bled

For the love of a shepherd who saw her not,

But oh, Amaryllis, gardeners have not forgot.

Today, we say Alteo who?

But, at your name, we can construe

The bulb that blooms in winter's chill.

Amaryllis, you are with us still.

 
 
 

Today's book recommendation: Medieval Herbals by Minta Collins 

 

Published in 2000, Minta's book the first book author Anna Pavord gives credit to for her work in The Naming of Names about the earliest work in plant taxonomy.

Medieval Herbals provides one of the few resources on the subject of the earliest ideas and books of herbs.

Minta explains how herbals became the backbone of knowledge for medical scholars. The books were expensive, difficult to obtain and often invaluable to historians, botanists, and the world of culture and art.

I, for one, love that someone named Minta wrote a book about herbs.

Hardcover versions of this book sell for over $300. However, the link in today's show notes, can get you to paperback copies on Amazon of this incredible resource for just over $30. That's a 90% savings.

 

 


Today's Garden Chore: 

Address exposed tree roots with mulch instead of soil.

Depending on your type of soil, and the type of tree, tree roots can sometimes erupt on the surface of the soil. Many gardeners want to bury the Exposed roots; But, putting more than an inch to an inch and a half of soil on top of the exposed root can actually smother the tree.  Placing a small layer of mulch on top of the exposed tree root is preferred. Mulch is lighter, has more air pockets, and when rained on creates an organic tea; adding nutrients back into the soil.

 
 

Something Sweet

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

 
#OTD  On this day in 1919, New Hampshire selected the purple lilac as the state flower Because they said it symbolized the hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State.
 
In 1750, the first lilac was planted at the home of the first Gov. Benning Wentworth. An Englishman, Wentworth had brought the lilac along with other trees and shrubs when he immigrated to America.
 
Nearly 200 years later, New Hampshire Gov. Francis P. Murphy commemorated a planting at the capital on April 25, 1939.
 
He remarked,
 
"Six roots were taken from the famous lilac trees In the garden of the first colonial governor of New Hampshire.So today, We are placing in the earth of the Capitol grounds root cuttings from the very first lilacs ever to come to America. We are very proud of this little flower which is uniquely ours and as I plant these routes today, I ask you to join with me in the hope that they may thrive and in the course of time, grow into full beauty."
 
And here's one final note about the Wentworth lilacs: The lilacs planted at Mount Vernon by George Washington are also thought to be slips taken from the Wentworth estate.
 
 
 

Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

Today's Featured Book

 

Today's Garden Thoughts...

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Today's Unearthed Words

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Today's Garden Chore

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