Today is National Paul Bunyan Day.
In Minnesota, most folks fondly remember the tales of Paul and Babe - his big blue ox.
Speaking of big, Many gardeners have a fondness for giant plants. They are perfect if you have lots of space, or if you just prefer the look of tall or giant plants.
You can Celebrate Paul Bunyan Day today by planting giant plants like these: hibiscus, Joe Pye weed, Baptisia, Hollyhock, Queen of the Prairie, Plume Poppy, Gunnera, Cup Plant, Castor Bean, - and this list is just to get you started.
#OTD It was on this day in 1924 that botanist Harry V. Harlan gave a presentation to the Science Club at Kansas State University about his Plant Exploration and travels in North Africa.
Harlan made the trip by mule caravan over 59 days. In some villages, Harlan was the first English-speaking person ever to visit. Harlan returned to the states with over 600 varieties of plants.
During his life. Harlan organized a school of agriculture in the Philippines. He worked for the USDA and was the Principal Agronomist in charge of barley. Harlan went on many Plant Expeditions around the globe.
The University of Illinois has a black and white photo of a young, handsome Harlan - looking a little Indiana Jones-ish. The photo was taken just before a trip to Ethiopia. The image was used as the headshot for his book One Man's Life With Barley (1957).
#OTD It was on this day in 1939 that The Daily Times out of Davenport Iowa published a story about the practice of importing seeds to the United States.
Here's what it said:
"Exactly 100 years ago this week the United States congress authorized the first search and collection of foreign seeds and plants in an attempt to increase the number cf agricultural products produced in this country. In the century that has followed, this work has been carried forward with untold benefits to American farmers. Plant explorers have tramped over much of the earth's land surface and have imported thousands of varieties of seeds and plants that have enriched American agriculture in an incalculable degree."
#OTD It was on this day in 1974 that the Panama City News out of Panama City, Florida published a story about one of Florida's most outstanding horticulturists: Dr. Henry Nehrling, who was an ornithologist, botanist, and plant breeder.
It's been said that during his lifetime, "Every plant lover in Florida knew or knew of Henry Nehrling."
Nehrling's horticultural writings covered a period dating from the early 1890s to the late 1920s.
The esteemed plant explorer David Fairchild said this about Nehrling:
"Dr. Nehrling's writings should be available to the young people who are making gardens around their houses, for they not only give the facts regarding a host of interesting plants from which they may choose, but they tell in narrative form how one who learns to recognize plants can explore for a lifetime the unlimited variety of beautiful forms which compose the plant kingdom."
Nehrling's notes are wondrously inspiring even after all this time.
Here's a sample of some of his quotes:
"Show me your garden, provided it is your own, and I will tell you what you are."
"In both the cultivation, and enjoyment of gardens. Is peace, rest, and contentment. Pleasure is not a luxury of life, but one of its necessities, and ornamental horticulture is one of the truest and most stimulating pleasures in life and may be enjoyed by him who possesses only a window-box, as well as the favored mortal with acres in abundance."
"The cultivation and enjoyment of tropical snd subtropical plants is the noblest, the most delightful, the most satisfying of all earthly pursuits."
"Florida Is the land of almost unlimited possibilities as far as ornamental horticulture is concerned. We are able to grow in the open air hundreds- no, thousands - of species of exquisite tropical and subtropical plants which farther north can only be grown with much difficulty and with considerable trouble In expensive glasshouses."
"Nowhere, have I found such a wealth of beautiful native and exotic plants as in Florida, very aptly called the "land of flowers" and the "paradise of ornamental horticulture". Even if we were deprived of the exotic vegetation, we would be able to form wonderful gardens by using only the material found In our woodlands and along our water courses. There Is no more beautiful evergreen tree in the whole plant world than our glorious evergreen Magnolia grandiflora bedecked with its noble lustrous foliage and embellished with Its snowy-white, deliciously fragrant flower-chalices."
Following Nehrling's death in 1929, his incredible Gardens went untended and became a jungle. Over 20 years passed before the present owner, Julius Fleischmann, came upon the scene. Fleischmann had the heart of a naturalist, and he was determined to make Henry Nehrling's garden live again and did. It took over three years of intensive restoration and development to reopen the garden to visitors in 1954.
It's the birthday of the English illustrator Cicely Mary Barker who was born on this day in 1895.
Barker is remembered for her depictions of fairies and flowers. In Barker's fabulous fantasy world, every flower was granted its particular Fairy to protect it from harm. Barker would draw the flowers and the fairies and then write poetry about them.
Here are a few of her poems:
So small, so blue, in grassy places
My flowers raise
Their tiny faces.
By streams, my bigger sisters grow,
And smile in gardens,
In a row.
I’ve never seen a garden plot;
But though I’m small
Forget me not!
White Clover Fairy
I’m little White Clover, kind and clean;
Look at my threefold leaves so green;
Hark to the buzzing of hungry bees:
“Give us your honey, Clover, please!”
Yes, little bees, and welcome, too!
My honey is good, and meant for you!
Barker loved wildflowers, but she didn't believe in fairies. In the foreword to Flower Fairies of the Wayside, Barker wrote:
"I have drawn all the plants and flowers carefully, from real ones, but I have never seen a fairy..."
When we are new to gardening, it is easy to want to put all the plants together in one big family.
But, in reality, there are hundreds of different plant families. Like human families, each plant family has its own history and genealogy.
Learning about plant families helps gardeners make sense of the more than 250,000 different plant species in the world.
Today's Garden Chore
Make a point of pruning your spring-flowering shrubs before the 4th of July. Now is the perfect time to do so.
Think about pruning plants like spireas, weigelas, bush honeysuckles, climbing roses, and lilacs need to be pruned shortly after flowering since they produce new growth, which will bear more flowers the next year.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
I ran across a post from a newspaper in Boston from 1843, and it was simply called, "Effects of Culture."
Here's what it said:
"Celery, so agreeable to most palates, is a modification of the Apium graveolens, the taste of which is so acrid and bitter that it cannot be eaten.
Our cauliflowers and cabbages, are largely developed coleworts, that grow-wild on the sea-shore, and do not weigh more than half an ounce each.
The rose has been produced by cultivation, from the common wild briar;
the luscious plum from the acrid sloe,
and the golden pippin from the harsh, bitter crab."
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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