June 25, 2019 Empress Wu Hosta, David Douglas, William Robert Guilfoyle, Nathaniel Lord Britton, George Orwell, Gardener’s Latin by Bill Neal, Floral Pins, and Eric Carle

Did you know that the most popular giant hosta is Empress Wu?

At maturity, the plant is 5 feet tall with an 8-foot spread.

Pictures don't really do the Empress Wu hosta justice. Because of its size and fast rate of growth, Empress Wu demands soil that is consistently moist but not soggy.

Brian and Virginia Skag bred empress Wu out of Lowell, Indiana. On February 23, 2010, they finally received their patent for the impressive Empress Wu hosta.




#OTD It was on this day in 1799, the Scottish botanist David Douglas was born.

Douglas was responsible for the identification of over 200 new plant species in North America, including the famous Douglas-fir.

Douglas never received a formal education, and he was primarily a plant collector rather than a published scientist.

Despite his lack of formal training, Douglas sent more plants to Europe than any other botanist of his time.

During his expeditions, Douglas was often accompanied by his little Scottish terrier named Billie.

Douglas's career ended tragically in 1834 when he was killed while exploring in Hawaii.

There is a memorial to Douglas and Honolulu which says:

"Here lies Master David Douglas - an indefatigable traveler. He was sent out by the Royal Horticultural Society of London and gave his life for science."

And on the second bronze tablet there is a quote by Virgil:

"Even here the tear of pity springs,
And hearts are touched by human things."




#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the landscape gardener and botanist William Robert Guilfoyle, who died on this day in 1912.

Guilfoyle was the architect of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

It took Guilfoyle over 35 years to transform the Botanic Gardens into what is now is widely accepted as one of the world's most magnificent botanical landscapes.

When the author of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, saw the garden, he said it was absolutely the most beautiful place he had ever seen.




#OTD It's the anniversary of the death of Nathaniel Lord Britton, an America botanist, and taxonomist who died on this day in 1934.

Britton married the famous bryologist Elizabeth Gertrude Knight. Together, they used Kew Gardens in London as their inspiration for the New York Botanical Garden.

Britain and the botanist Joseph Rose named Regina Carnegiea in 1908 as a tribute to his philanthropy.

An obituary of Britton, botanist Henry Rusby shared this charming anecdote:

"Attracted one day, by the beauty of some drawings that lay before him, I inquired as to their source. When told that he, himself, was the artist, I asked in astonishment, 'Can you draw like that?' 'Of course,' he said. 'What you suppose I did all that hard work in the drawing class for?'"




#OTD And it was on this day in 1903 that the author George Orwell was born.

Over the past few decades, Orwell's diaries have been made public. Across from his entry for October 3, 1946, there is a map for a fruit and vegetable garden.

Orwell hoped to set up a small farm on the property, that he called Barnhill, on the island of Jura.

In reality, Orwell's health was not good when he was on the island.

Before he arrived, he had actually received a diagnosis of tuberculosis. Working in the vegetable garden was considered suitable for him because, at that time, being in the fresh air was considered part of the treatment for tuberculosis.

The last entry in his diary is for December 1949. It reads:

“Snowdrops all over the place. A few tulips showing. Some wallflowers still trying to flower.”




Unearthed Words

Here are some quotes from George Orwell:

"Outside my work the thing I care most about is gardening, especially vegetable gardening."

"The plant is blind but it knows enough to keep pushing upwards towards the light, and it will continue to do this in the face of endless discouragements."

“So often like this, in lonely places in the forest, he would come upon something--bird, flower, tree--beautiful beyond all words, if there had been a soul with whom to share it. Beauty is meaningless until it is shared.”



Today's book recommendation: Gardener's Latin, by Bill Neal

This text remains one of the best resources for helping you to understand Latin plant names and to help you become a better gardener with that knowledge.

Neal includes horticultural facts, fables, and wisdom from other gardeners, from Virgil to Vita Sackville-West.




Today's Garden Chore

Order yourself some 2-inch floral pins (Click here to see the ones I order from Amazon).

I use them all the time in the garden - especially when I'm creating with succulents.

Recently I was sharing images of some head planters I put together and even a sizeable succulent wreath. Floral pis help make those creations possible and help train the plants where you want them to grow.



Something Sweet

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

It was on this day in 1929 that the American illustrator and writer Eric Carle was born.

Carle gave a commencement address at Bates College in 2007.

He concluded these words:

"Love your partner and tend your garden. Simplify, slow down, be kind."

And it was Eric Carle who said,

"Whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful."

Carle has extensive knowledge and love of nature. His early books include Nature Thoughts, Flower Thoughts, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and The Tiny Seed.

And here's a quote from Carle's most important work:

“On Saturday, he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon. That night he had a stomach ache.”



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

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