June 3, 2019 Half-Hardy Plants, Aristides Simoni, David Douglas, Josephine Baker, Nathaniel Parker Willis, Kiftsgate Court Garden, Vanessa Berridge, Perennials for Wet Areas, Ardenoir, and Charlotte to Grace O’Brien

Half-Hardy Plants. That's a term you don't run into very often - but when you do, it can be confusing.

Just this morning, I swung by a garden center to check out their clearance plants, and I ended up chatting with a gardener who had running to a label that had that term: Half-Hardy Plants.

The term Half-Hardy simply means that the plant will not survive a frost - that they can't handle a dip in temperatures.

So think about your tropicals; maybe you have some citrus - an orange tree or a lemon tree - or simply your patio pots.

Those would all fall into the category of Half-Hardy Plants.





#OTD On this day in 1868, Aristides Simoni was born.

He helped discover the role of the mosquito in the transmission of yellow fever.




#OTD And it was on this day in 1830 that David Douglas finally arrived at the Columbia River.

He had departed from England on October 31st, 1829, after visiting his mom. Before he got on the boat, he wanted to make sure that he got his hands on a Bible with large enough font for him to be able to read it as his vision was feeling him

Douglas was excited to go on this trip. He wanted to get to the interior of California to discover the botanical treasures there.

But apparently, plant exploration was taking a toll on Douglas. He ran into someone at Fort Vancouver who thought he was 48 years old; he was 30.

Despite his physical challenges, Douglas was eager to get going. When he reached Columbia, he immediately thought about botanizing in the area.

In just a few weeks, he was able to send home three chests of seeds and plants. In a letter to Prof. Hooker, he wrote:

"You will begin to think that I manufacture pines at my pleasure.”

One of the pines Douglas sent back was the Pinus nobilis. It commanded a hefty price tag at the time– 15 to 20 guineas per plant.




#OTD It's the birthday of Josephine Baker, one of the greatest entertainers of the past century.

Josephine's path led her to Paris, where she became an instant sensation. By 1929, she was the highest-paid entertainer in Europe.

Baker bought a Château just outside of Paris, and she loved to garden there. She also loved to throw glamorous parties on the lawns of the estate, which were flanked by magnolia trees and the enormous rhododendrons. The property boasted its own orchards, multiple greenhouses, vegetable plots, and even a rivulet.




Unearthed Words

Here's a little snippet about June from Nathaniel Parker Willis.

He was an American author and poet. During the mid-1800s, he was the highest-paid magazine writer of his day.

It is the month of June,
the month of leaves and roses.
When pleasant sights salute the eyes,
and pleasant scents the noses.




Today's book recommendation: Kiftsgate Court Garden by Vanessa Berridge

The subtitle of the book is intriguing; three generations of women gardeners.

It features the influences of Heather Muir, who began gardening at Kiftsgate a century ago with her husband. Heather's daughter Dianny took over the estate, including the garden, in the 1940s. Four decades later, in the 1980s, Dianny's daughter took over the property, and she owns it to this day.

If you like gardens, garden history, and mix in some personal biographies - this gorgeous book is right up your alley.

You can click the link above to purchase it.




Today's Garden Chore

It's time to find perennials for those wet but sunny areas in the garden.

There are a number of plants that like these kinds of conditions and many of them are favorites of mine:

  • Ligularia
  • Filipendula (rubra is known as Queen of the Prairie - with the pink tops. I love this one!)
  • Lysamachia
  • Rodgersia

Btw - I fell in love with Rodgersia a few years ago. The magnificent leaves of this plant are huge and look positively prehistoric once it gets established.




Something Sweet

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

On this day in 1909 at the Irish immigration reformer, Charlotte to Grace O'Brien died.

After a life devoted to improving the lot of others, O'Brien devoted her leisure time to writing and to the study of plant life.

O'Brien had found a place for herself along the river Shannon which she called at Ardenoir - which means the height of gold, in reference to the golden gorse that covered the hillsides in spring.

She once mused:

"The baby heather that blossoms so soon,
in the splendid heat that comes after June."

When one considers O'Brien's humanitarian work across both sides of the Atlantic, as well as her genius for gardening, it's stunning to discover that by the time O'Brien reached adulthood, she was completely deaf.

In 1879 she wrote about her deafness, saying,

"Oh bitter loss! all natures voice is dumb
Oh loss beyond all loss! About my neck the children cast their arms.
No voices break upon my ear, no sounds of laughter come -
Child's laughter wrought of love, and life, and bliss;
Heedless, I leave the rest, had I but this."


In the last half of her life, O'Brien firmly established herself as a writer, a poet, and a plant collector.

Her last article contained these prophetic lines."

"I will puzzle the botanists of another generation,
and when my bones are dust and my good spade rust,
when my house is pulled down and my garden asphalt and bricks,
my extra special wild briars and my daffodils
will still linger on the hillside and scent the bloomy air
for generations that know me not, nor mine."



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and remember:

"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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