May 31, 2019 Why Do You Garden, Charles McIlvaine, Virginia Woolf, Martha Maxwell, Walt Whitman, This Compost, Photo Friday, Hosta Inventory, Calvin Lamborn and the invention of Sugar Snap Peas

Why do you garden?

This was a question that was posted in a Facebook group I belong to, and it received over 1400 responses.

The most popular were:

  • it's calming
  • to bring beauty into my life
  • to connect with nature
  • healthy food

There's another benefit that many people often overlook: staying physically active.

If you take a look at your Fitbit after spending time in your garden, you'll realize it's a workout.





#OTD It's the birthday of Charles McIlvaine born in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

He was a captain in the Civil War, an author, and a mycologist. He was born on this day in 1840.

When he was 40 years old, McIlvaine moved to West Virginia. He started writing for magazines like Century and Harpers.

However, McIlvaine is best known for his study of mushrooms. He took copious notes, which he compiled into his book called 1,000 American Fungi.

What most distinguished McIlvaine is the fact that he experimented on himself, eating hundreds of mushrooms and toadstools. This is how McIlvaine came to be known as Old Iron Guts.

Since McIlvaine had a love for writing before he had a love for mushrooms when he wrote about mushrooms, his language was often very flowery.

Consider what McIlvaine wrote about the Oyster Mushroom:

"The camel is gratefully called the ship of the desert. The oyster mushroom is the shellfish of the forest. When the tender parts are dipped in egg, rolled in bread crumbs, and fried as an oyster, they're not excelled buy any vegetable and are worth of place on the daintiest menu."

Here's the Vomiting Russella:

"Most are sweet and nutty to the taste. Some are as hot as the fiercest cayenne, but this they lose upon cooking. Their caps make the most palatable dishes when stewed, baked, roasted or escalloped.”

Finally, I have to share a poem that McIlvaine wrote called Our Church Fight.

"I'm that nigh near disgusted with the fight in our old church,
Where one halfs 'g'in the t'other, an' the Lord's left in the lurch,
That I went an' told the parson if he'd jine me in a prayer,
We'd slip out 'mong the daisies and' put one up from there."





#OTD On this day in 1920, Virginia Woolf was gardening with her husband, Leonard, at the new home they had bought the previous year.

She wrote about it in her diary:

"The first pure joy of the garden... Weeding all day to finish the beds in a queers sort of enthusiasm which made me say this is happiness. Gladioli standing in troops; the mock orange out. We were out till 9 at night, though the evening was cold. Both stiff and scratched all over today, with chocolate earth in our nails."





#OTD It's the death day of naturalist, artist, and taxidermist, Martha and Maxwell, who died on this day in 1881.

She helped found modern taxidermy.

At just 5 feet tall, Maxwell became an accomplished hunter.

One historian wrote,

"What distinguished Martha from other taxidermists of the day was that Martha Maxwell always attempted to place stuffed animals in natural poses and amongst natural surroundings. This talent was what would separate her work from others and make her animals so popular with exhibitors and viewers alike.”

People who saw Martha's exhibits of Colorado wildlife doubted that a woman had actually done the work.

Martha had heard these comments over and over. At one point, she wrote the words "Woman's Work" on a small sign and placed it in front of her exhibit.





Unearthed Words

#OTD Today is the birthday of Walt Whitman, who was born on this day in 1819.

When Whitman was 54 years old, he suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed. He spent the next two years immersed in nature, and he believed that nature had helped to heal him.

"How it all nourishes, lulls me, in the way most needed; the open air, the rye-fields, the apple orchards.”


Here's an excerpt from Whitman's Poem called This Compost:

"Now I am terrified at the earth! it is that calm and
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,

It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such
endless successions of diseased corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused
It renews with such unwitting looks, its prodigal,
annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts
such leavings from them at last."





Today's book recommendation: No One Gardens Alone: A Life of Elizabeth Lawrence by Emily Herring Wilson

Lawrence was one of the premier gardeners and garden writers of the 20th Century.

Little is known about her personal life until this book - which took the author over ten years to complete.

You can get a copy of this book on Amazon using the link above for a little over $3.





Today's Garden Chore

It's another Photo Friday in the Garden.

It's time to take a hosta inventory, recording the hostas that you've forgotten you ever had in your garden.





Something Sweet

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

In May 1979, Dr. Calvin Lamborn bread snow peas and shelling English peas together to create the Sugar Snap Pea at Magic Seed Farm in Twin Falls Idaho.

Today, the farm is owned by Rod Lamborn, Dr. Lamborn's son.

When Dr. Lamborn passed away in 2017, Rod took over the farm. He said,

"I miss my father.

I remember the night he died, I came in from the field and I was talking about the peas, and for the first time, he wasn’t interested. It was a peaceful moment because he knew it was all right. He was like, ‘You got this.’ ”




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

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