June 27, 2019 National Onion Day, Thomas Say, William Williams, William Guilfoyle, Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz, The Glory of the Garden by Rudyard Kipling, Practical Botany for Gardeners by Geoff Hodge, Make a Garden Map, and Brevities
Today is the very first National Onion Day.
It was founded by the National Onion Association, which represents almost 500 growers from across the United States.
The association celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013.
Onions are a member of the bulb family. There are twenty-seven different types of onion. They all grow underground, and they're one of the easiest vegetables to grow.
There's an old saying that says that the thicker the onion skin, the colder the winter will be.
#OTD It was on this day in 1787 that the naturalist Thomas Say was born.
Say was born to a Quaker family and was a relative of the Bartrams.
Say grew up making frequent visits to their botanic garden on the banks of the Schuylkill River
Say was one of the first naturalists in the United States to advocate for the naming and describing of native flora and fauna. Before Say's time, plant and animal specimens were sent to Europe for identification. The long sea voyage took a toll on specimens, and there were often identification errors as a result.
Say's specialty was entomology, and Say is often considered to be the father of descriptive entomology in the United States.
Say died from typhoid fever on the 10th of October in 1834, at the age of 47. His lengthy obituary ended with these words:
"On the 8th, the hopes of his friends were flattered by a deceitful calm.
On the day following, these hopes for chilled;
He appeared sinking under debility, when on the 10th, death came over him like a summer cloud.
He met the embrace as the weary traveller falls into the arms of restoring sleep.
Intellect triumphed to the last hour.v He left his wife directions as to his Library and Cabinet of Natural History."
#OTD Any was on this day in 1861 that the Courier and Argus out of Dundee, Scotland, reported the death of a botanical guide: William Williams.
The newspaper account said:
"While his party rode slowly forward on ponies, Williams indulged in his favorite science; collecting plants. When they arrived at the summit he left them again in order to gather some ferns. The party waited for him 90 minutes and then finally descended. Scouts were sent out and his body was found lying 300 yards beneath the precipice from where he fallen."
Before he died, Williams had begun to realize that he was living a sort of contradiction by locating rare plants for collectors, he was contributing to their extinction.
Today Williams tombstone reads:
"William Williams, upwards of 25 years botanical guide at the Royal Victoria Hotel. Killed by a fall while pursuing his favorite vocation."
#OTD And it was on this day in 1889 that William Guilfoyle married Mary Alice darling.
Guilfoyle was the director of the Royal Botanic Garden, Victoria.
When he married Alice, he decided to take his first holiday from the gardens in 17 years. They took a nine-month grand tour of British and European gardens and Forests. It was really quite the experience, and it's documented wonderfully in this book called Mr. Guilfoyle's Honeymoon.
Just so you know, you can only get it on Kindle.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz, who died on this day in 1907.
Agassiz was an American naturalist, an educator, and the first president of Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She grew up in an intellectual family. In 1856, she married the Swiss naturalist Louis Agassi. She became an intimate part of his life and work.
When they were first married, she started a girl's school in their home to bring in some extra income.
When Louis died, Elizabeth was 51 years old. His death spurred her to establish Radcliffe College.
The Glory of the Garden by Rudyard Kipling
Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.
For where the thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You will find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all;
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dung pits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts, and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.
And some can pot begonias, and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.
Today's book recommendation: Practical Botany for Gardeners by Geoff Hodge
This book explains over 3,000 botanical terms.
I think one of the reasons this book is so helpful is that it is so beautifully put together.
The Denver Post said:
"It is a gentle guide to the green world... organized precisely how a non-botanist would need it done."
The book is heavily illustrated to marvelous effect. It's one of my favorite books to give to new and experienced gardeners.
Part handbook, part reference, Practical Botany for Gardeners, is a beautifully captivating read. It’s a must for garden lovers and backyard botanists who want to grow and nurture their own plant knowledge.
Today's Garden Chore
It's time to make a map of your garden.
You can do this yourself. You can do this with the help of Google Earth. You can even hire your own illustrator.
This chore was actually inspired by the article I read in the Detroit Free Press on this day in 1958.
A nurseryman was talking about how his customers could be most helpful. In his mind, a garden map was the most beneficial tool that he could use with his clients.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
I ran across an article in The Marion Star in Marion, Ohio, on this day, in 1894.
The article was titled Blooming Beauties, and it contained these charming brevities;
Sweet alyssum is the most satisfactory of all the hardy annuals. It flowers early and late, and all the time.
It is a curious fact, that some flowers are only fragrant at night, like the Hosperis tristls and the Lady Washington pelargonium.
A simple way to remember the difference between Virginia Creeper and the poison ivy is this: if the vine has five leaves, corresponding to the five fingers of your hand, you may handle it; if it has only three leaves, you may not handle it.
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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