May 30, 2019 Extra Garden Tools, Voltaire, Gustav Leopold Miller, the Brush Weeder, Bill Burt, National Mint Julep Day, Cicily Mary Barker, The Lilac Fairyx, Green Thoughts, Eleanor Perenyi, Perennial Vines, and Concealing Unsightly Clothesline Posts

Today I'm heading over at 1 o'clock to Walmart to pick up my mobile order. It has a ton of things I need to get for my student gardeners.

When the kids help me out in the garden, I put them in teams of two, and I generally have 6 to 8 kids helping me out in the garden on any given day. That means I need to have multiples of some of my favorite garden tools.

So, today, I'm picking up ate whisk brooms and eight pruners. The whisk brooms are for some of the detailed work we will do along the garden paths. This year we will be adding some polymeric sand.

And the pruners, of course, are for all the pruning will be doing. In fact, one of the first things they learn is to chop and drop; Allowing little pieces of plant material to fall and return to the earth.






#OTD On this day in 1778, the great French writer Voltaire died.

Voltaire’s seventeenth-century novel: Candide: or, Optimism, follows a young protagonist as he ventures all over the world.

Despite all the terrible things that happen to him, Candide never loses his optimism.

Here is the most cited passage from the story:

"'All I know,’ said Candide, ‘is that we must cultivate our garden.’

‘You are right,’ said Pangloss, ‘for when man was placed in the garden of Eden, he was put there 'ut operaretur eum', so that he might work: which proves that man was not born for the rest.’

‘Let us set to work, for that is the only way to make life bearable.'"





#OTD Today is the birthday of Gustav Leopold Miller, born in 1884, on this day, in Henry, Illinois.

His claim to fame was the invention of the brush weeder. It was described in the Daily Times out of Davenport, Iowa in 1918:

"It's composed of two brushes– whisk brooms in reality. The brushes are placed directly ahead of the principal shovels of the cultivator, felling the weeds about the corn plant... And as the weeds are laid low, they are covered with earth which is thrown up by the shovels.

Miller donated the first weeder to the Red Cross and at a recent auction, sold one for the price of $60 Which is about 12 times the cost for which it will be retailed."





#OTD It's the death day of Brian Lawrence Burt, who went by "Bill."

He died in 2008. He was an English botanist and taxonomist noted for his contributions to the family Gesneriaceae, the family that Includes African violets.

When Burt started going on and plant expeditions in 1951, the Gesneriaceae family was poorly represented. Thanks to Burt's work, Edinburgh became the hub for the family. It led to the popularity in England of both the African violet and the Streptocarpus. Both became beloved windowsill plants.

If you look online, you will see a picture of Bill Burt, standing In a forest in South Africa on one of his botanizing trips.

In his hands, he is holding a very large Streptocarpus grandis leaf that looks to be about 4-feet tall.





#OTD It's National Mint Julep Day.

A mint julep is made with a mint leaf, bourbon, sugar, and water.

If you ask any Southerner, spearmint is the mint of choice if you are going to make a Mint Julep.




Unearthed Words

Here's a poem from Cicily Mary Barker, an English illustrator known for her work depicting fairies and flowers.

The poem mentions Laburnum, a small tree that has hanging clusters of yellow flowers. After it flowers, it produces slender pods that contain poisonous seeds.

The Lilac Fairy from Cicily Mary Barker

White May is flowering,
Red May beside;
Laburnum is showering
Gold far and wide;
But I sing of Lilac,
The dearly-loved Lilac,
Lilac, in Maytime
A joy and a pride!
I love her so much
That I never can tell
If she’s sweeter to look at,
Or sweeter to smell.




Today's book recommendation: Green Thoughts by Eleanor Perenyi

We lost Eleanor into 2009, at the age of 91.

This book is widely considered by many to be a classic of garden writing. It was Eleanor's only book.

She wrote about working in her Connecticut garden. Perenyi was not a fan of rock gardens, chemical pesticides, or petunias.

She once called petunias,

“as hopelessly impractical as a chiffon ball dress”

There are many wonderful quotes and sayings that are attributed to Eleanor in her book Green Thoughts. Here are a few of my favorites:

“A little studied negligence is becoming to a garden:”

“The double hoops for peonies are beyond description maddening to unfold and set in place. Two people are needed, one of them with better control of his temper than I have.”

“I ordered a modern purple martin house myself and proceeded to construct a dreadful object: unpainted, it looked like a cheap motel; painted blue and white, it looked like a cheap Greek motel and had to be thrown out.”




Today's Garden Chore

Incorporate more perennial vines into your garden.

Vines have more uses beyond just climbing a trellis. Off-the-trellis ideas include —allowing them to amble their way through your garden, over walls, up into shrubs and trees, in pots, and more.




Something Sweet

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

In 1906, the Superior Times out of Superior, Wisconsin, shared A solution to a common backyard problem: Unsightly Clothes Line Posts.

"One usually thinks of clothes posts as necessary evils and accepts their ugliness as unredeemable. It will surprise many to learn that they may be made beautiful and retain their usefulness.

I have seen a set of clothes posts In a back yard entirely covered with living green—a luxeriant growth of Virginia creeper... The best permanent screen for unsightly objects Is a group of evergreens. A clump of lilacs costs less and begins to be effective sooner."




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

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