Sometimes the plant gods smile on you with a clearance sale featuring something genuinely spectacular like Japanese Forest Grass or, in this case, Hakonechloa 'All Gold.'

My local Lowes was clearancing them for $3 a pop - and it was just what the plant doctor ordered to dress up our cabin up north.

In 2009, my garden idol, Margaret Roach, tweeted, "Another plant I cannot garden without Hakonechloa 'All Gold.' Solid gold in the shade."

She's right.

 

 


Brevities

#OTD On this day in 1796, Gilbert Laing Meason was born.

Laing Meason was a friend of Sir Walter Scott, and he invented the term 'landscape architecture' in his 1828 book on The Landscape Architecture of the Great Painters of Italy.

Not many copies of his book were printed, but somehow the prolific garden author, John Claudius Loudon, secured a copy. He shared the term with American horticulturist Andrew Jackson Downing, who, in turn, shared it with Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted was the first professional to describe himself as a 'landscape architect,' and he is regarded as the founder of landscape architecture.

Meason was very balanced in his perspective on architecture. He valued both function and beauty.

In terms of his property, Meason was a romantic, and his personal estate was known as Lindertis House. It is no surprise that he surrounded it with ornate gardens. Over time, the cost of maintaining the elaborate gardens, in addition to the household management of the estate as a whole, brought Lindertis to total financial ruin. Today, barely a trace of the mansion exists. When Meason died, he had no idea that his notion of 'landscape architecture' would be his legacy.

 

 


#OTD Today in 1806, Michael Keens, a market gardener from Isleworth, exhibited the first large-scale cultivated strawberry combining flavor and appearance, at the Royal Horticultural Society.

It's hard to imagine, but large garden strawberries didn't exist before the 1800s.

In his wonderfully illustrated book, The Complete Strawberry (Century Books, 1985), Stafford Whiteaker revealed the modern strawberry's development over the last two centuries; sharing how plants were harvested from the foot of the Andes and brought to France by a French spy named Amédée François Frézier (1682- 1773).

Frézier cared for five plants during the six-month journey home by sharing his own precious supply of water. In a strange coincidence, Frézier’s surname is itself derived from fraise, the French word for strawberry. It turns out, his ancestor, Julius de Berry, presented the Emperor with a gift of strawberries and was honored with the name of his gift.

For clarification, the name ‘‘strawberry’’ does not refer to mulching the berries with straw. Instead, it is from the Old English term straw, which means ‘‘to spread’ referring to their runners grow.

On 30 Apr 1859, The Preston Chronicle and Lancashire Advertiser offered a little advice about growing Keen's strawberries, saying,

"For edgings for these nothing is more profitable than parsley or a line of Keens's seedling strawberry."

 

 


#OTD It was on this day in 1939 that The Asbury Park Press reported that Lambertus C. Bobbink, one of the country's best-known florists, was honored at the New York Botanical Gardens.

The author, Pearl Buck, was there to dedicate a rose garden and unveil a plaque to Bobbink that read, "To honor Lambertus C. Bobbink, a great rosarian whose counsel and generosity helped to make this garden possible for the enjoyment of all."

Bobbink immigrated to the United States from Holland in 1896. He purchased a few acres of land in Rutherford, New Jersey, and in 1898 Frederick L. Atkins, an English nurseryman, became his partner in the business, forming Bobbink and Atkins, one of the worlds largest horticultural organizations at the time. They both made their homes on Herrick Street, around the corner from their business on Paterson Avenue.

In 1911, Bobbink & Atkins successfully grew the first crop of budded Hybrid Tea Roses in the United States and the hybrid tea roses to this country. In 1935, Bobbink introduced the Azalea Rutherfordiana in 1935, which memorialized Rutherford, his hometown.

 

 


Unearthed Words

Today is the birthday of the English poet William Henry Davies.

Davies loved the natural world, especially birds and butterflies. George Bernard Shaw was a fan of his work, and he wrote the preface of Davies' autobiography.

Here are a few of his poems:

 

" When I can hear the small woodpeckers ring
Time on a tree for all the birds that sing ;
And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long?
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song."

 

"And here are butterflies: poor things
Amazed with new-created wings;
They in the air-waves roll distrest
Like ships at sea; and when they rest
They cannot help but ope and close
Their wings, like babies with their toes."

 

 


Today's book recommendation: Grow in the Dark by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf

Lisa Eldred-Steinkopf is known as the Houseplant Guru, and this is her latest book. She's putting the spotlight on 50 of the best houseplants you can grow in dim or dark areas.

Having a south-facing window doesn’t always guarantee you the best light to grow plants—especially if your window faces an alley or a tree-lined street. What’s the point of growing an urban jungle if tall buildings are blocking all your sunshine? This compact guide, designed to look as good on your shelf as it is useful, will help you learn how to make the most of your light so you can reap the physical and emotional benefits of living with plants.

Detailed profiles include tips on watering your plants just right, properly potting them, and troubleshooting pests and diseases. You’ll also learn which plants are safe to keep around your pets.

Whether you live in a shady top-floor apartment or a dungeon-y garden level, this book will help you grow your plant collection to its healthiest for its Instagram debut.

 

 


Today's Garden Chore

Plant Hakonechloa 'All Gold' in your garden.

All Gold is grass perfection. Graceful, tactile, and easy.

As its name suggests, Hakonechloa 'All Gold.' is bright, golden, and beautiful.

Plant it next to anything red or purple-leafed, and you'll have something amazing in your garden.

The best part about Hakonechloa is that it prefers part shade, and why not? It brings plenty of sunshine all on its own.

 

 


Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

It was on this day in 1993 that newspapers reported on the first recipient of the Richard Evans Schultes Award.

The honor went to a preeminent botanist and plant explorer with the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Research Service: Calvin R. Sperling.

Schultes was a Harvard University professor and widely recognized as the father of ethnobotany. As Schultes once said,

"Ethnobotany simply means someone who is investigating plants used by primitive societies in various parts the world."

Schultes praised Sperling:

"Calvin Sperling is one of the foremost ethnobotanists today, due to his consistent excellence in field research and to his extensive work to conserve biological diversity and to improve crop plants worldwide."

Sperling was selected to receive the award by an international committee established by the award's sponsor, The Healing Forest Conservancy in San Francisco.

An article about Sperling in the Star Tribune said,

"Sperling traipsed over mountain slopes [in the Soviet Union] in search of wild apricot trees. He had expected to find about 20 forgotten varieties. Instead, he brought back nearly 5O different specimens. "I found some incredible ones with traits we've never known before..." [Like] tolerance for frosts and freezing that may allow apricots to be grown in areas with harsh winter climates."

 

 


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