Do you change the oil in your window boxes and containers every spring?
You really don't need to - I don't. Here's what I do:
I remove about a quarter to a third of the soil in my containers, and I put it in my potting soil bin.
Then, I add a little perlite and compost to the original container, and that's it.
Any extra potting soil that I have leftover in my bin, I use for new containers.
#OTD It was on this day in 1869 that the botanist Edwin Hunt collected the last known specimen of Arethusa bulbosa in the old Oriskany swamp in New York.
Arethusa bulbosa is known as Dragon's Mouth Orchid, and it is found in the eastern and central parts of the United States and Canada, from South Carolina to Saskatchewan. One of Hunt's former students shared his recollections of his teacher:
"Mr. Hunt was an expert in the preparation of his botanical specimens. Hunt was ever-guarded in his knowledge of locality. He did not believe in sharing it if he thought someone would exhaust it. He knew only too well how many years of patient industry he had spent on his collection."
And then he recalled:
"We journeyed many miles together and he always seemed 2 inches taller when we got into the woods. He was a very rapid walker and when on a botanical excursion, it was a difficult matter to keep up with him. I have a faint but pleasant recollection of running at his heels for a distance of 12 miles."
The Crataegus huntiana is named in memory of Edwin Hunt.
#OTD On this day in 1871, James Weldon Johnson was born.
He's the lyricist of the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
He had a summer home known as Five Acres, and he had a little writing cabin on a hill above a brook. Johnson was a founder and member of the Harlem Renaissance, and he wrote most of his famous works like God's Trombone and his autobiography Along This Way in his writing cabin on the hill.
Johnson also loved poetry. Here are some excerpts from his Venus in a Garden:
But the fair Venus knew
The crimson roses had gained their hue
From the hearts that for love had bled;
And the goddess made a garland
Gathered from the roses red.
#OTD It was on this day in 1879 at the Botanical Gardens of Berlin, a monument of the late eminent botanist, Alexander Braun, was unveiled.
Professor Adler did the granite pedestal. The bust of the Braun was said to be an excellent likeness. Braun was a botanist from Bavaria. He researched the morphology of plants.
#OTD It was on this day in 1916, a photograph of Nellie McClung was taken with fellow suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst.
Nellie McClung earned Canadian women the right to vote.
Today you can explore Nellie's home and garden in Calgary.
Although she is perhaps best known for her social activism, being an author was her “day job.” Nothing inspired her more than her garden
Her first book was called "Sowing Seeds in Danny." It has been compared to L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Both books were immediate best-sellers in Canada.
#OTD It was on this day in 1934 that the University of Wisconsin's Arboretum was officially dedicated.
The idea had first occurred in 1853, to Wisconsin's early naturalist, Increase Lapham.
The University didn't actually begin purchasing land for the Arboretum until 1932. The following year, William Longenecker was hired to be the executive director, and Aldo Leopold, who has been a professor of wildlife ecology, was made research director.
Emily Dickinson wrote today's poem in the fall of 1877.
She, like most gardeners, was reflecting the seasons, and she made some observations about critical growing times during the year.
Dickinson never wrote a poem strictly about June, but she loved to reach back to June in her poems about Autumn.
To Dickinson, June was sweeter and best appreciated through the amber lens of Fall.
"Summer has two Beginnings --
Beginning once in June --
Beginning in October
Affectingly again --
Without, perhaps, the Riot
But graphicker for Grace --
As finer is a going
Than a remaining Face --
Departing then -- forever --
Forever -- until May --
Forever is deciduous
Except to those who die --"
And here's a quote from my friend and fellow podcaster, Joanne Shaw, who said this one year ago:
"A piece of our heart is in all our gardens."
Most of the plants in our gardens are not native to our region. Although we take their accessibility and ubiquity for granted, we owe a debt to the naturalists and explorers who traveled in search of these unusual plants and then brought them back along with fantastic stories.
Carolyn is the former editor at Geographical; The magazine of the Royal Geographical Society.
Today's Garden Chore
Attend to your geraniums.
Regular deadheading prevents disease and increases flower production. Be sure to remove the entire flower stalk after the flowers fade. Also, remove yellowing or dry leaves from the plants.
It’s quite typical for the lower leaves of geraniums to turn yellow as they age. To help reduce yellowing, try to increase the amount of sun if you can (full sun is best) and start fertilizing.
If your geranium gets leggy, prune it back a bit to encourage branching.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
When I was researching Edwin Hunt, I came across an article that told how Professor Hunt was collecting flowers for the Hungarian Revolutionary Lajos Kossuth.
Kossuth was lamenting yet another political disappointment, and he told Hunt how he had turned to nature:
"In this sadness of my poor distressed heart, I was longing for some consolation. And the words of Chateaubriand came to my mind:
'Happy those who love nature, her they shall find, and shall not find but her in the days of adversity."
And so I turned to that sole consoler who never disappoints and never deceives. The study of nature confirmed me In what my heart was longing to hope. A mild ray of peace and consolation fell on my sad soul as the cooling balm falls on the burning wound.'"
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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