July 10, 2019 Parsley, Asa Gray, Melville T. Cook, Elvin McDonald, Spiranthes parksii, Roy Lancaster, Theodore Roethke, Perennial Garden Plants by Graham Stuart Thomas, Planting Shade Trees, and Bewitched

Are you growing parsley?

I do.

But I generally only plant the flat leaf variety - since the curly leaf parsley is used mainly as a garnish.

Parsley is a member of the Umbelliferae family, which also includes celery, carrots, dill, cilantro, caraway, cumin, and the poisonous hemlock.

 


Brevities

#OTD On this day in 1838, the botanist Asa Gray resigned from the Wilkes Expedition.

Gray was frustrated by all of the delays. He also disagreed with Captain Charles Wilkes.  

Gray and Wilkes disagreed about the Latin descriptions of the new taxa. In addition, Wilkes wanted to work with Americans only. Gray recognized that the work could not be done with his usual level of excellence unless European herbaria and experts were included.

Instead, Gray accepted a position at the University of Michigan. But, before he could officially start, Harvard wooed him away.

Gray established the science of botany and guided American botany into the international arena.

It was Asa Gray who said, 

“Natural selection is not the wind which propels the vessel, but the rudder which, by friction, now on this side and now on that, shapes the course.” 

 

 


#OTD  Today in 1949, a 79 year old botanist, Dr. Melville Thurston Cook, his wife, and their pilot were rescued by an Air Force helicopter after a week in the Alaskan wilderness.

Cook reported they survived on 90 dozen eggs after their plane was forced down in the rugged Brooks Mountain range.

As luck would have it, the 1,080 eggs were aboard the plane as cargo. Cook shared their ingenuity with the world; telling how they had not lacked for variety in their preparation of the eggs, enjoying fried eggs, boiled eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, shirred eggs and omelet.

Naturally, when he wasn't eating eggs, Dr. Cook collected specimens.

Dr. Cook, who would be 80 in September, and his wife had been vacationing in Alaska. In newspaper accounts he said he never doubted the party would be saved. But the crash had impacted their priorities. Following the accident, Cook and his wife moved to be closer to their children. One of their four kids followed Cook's footsteps to become a plant pathologist; Dr. Harold T. Cook.

Before the accident, Cook was finishing up his career by working as visiting part-time professor of plant pathology at Louisiana State University. 

During his prime, Cook had gone botanizing with Nathaniel Lord Britton and  Elizabeth Gertrude Britton in Puerto Rico. He had also worked with Henry Allan Gleason at the New York Botanical Garden.

 

 


#OTD   Back in 1977, Ethan Allen and Elvin McDonald of House Beautiful (ww.housebeautiful.com) gave a presentation called "Decorating with Plants."

McDonald revealed many new decorating-with-plant ideas.

Keep in mind, this was three decades before Instagram. Otherwise, McDonald would have no doubt share photos of the over 300 plants in his apartment.

In the newspaper promotions for his presentation, McDonald was quoted as saying,

"Take a pill if you will I say take a plant to cope with everyday stress."

 

 

 


#OTD  A 1983 newspaper headline on this day in The Town Talk in Alexandria, Louisiana said, 'Rare Plant Halts Road Work'.

Turns out, a $15 million highway widening project near College Station was stopped because it threatened a tiny, rare, and unusual orchid plant.
 
The Spiranthes parksii (ii = "ee-eye"), also known as Navasota Ladies' Tresses because it grew along the Navasota River, is only 6 inches tall with white blooms. First discovered in 1945 and described by Donovan Stewart Correll in his 1950 book, Native Orchids of North America North of Mexico, It became the 54th U.S. plant species to be classified as endangered. 
 
 
 

#OTD In 1988, British plant explorer Roy Lancaster revealed that a thriving black market for plants was threatening rare Chinese orchids.
 
In the same way an art collector might buy stolen works of art underground, elite plant collectors are the wealthy clients of orchid smugglers.  Lancaster shared the plight of Paphiopedilum armeniacum which was discovered in 1980, but was 100 percent harvested from the world in 1983.
 
In just three short years, the plant had gone from discovery to presumed extinction!
 
 
 

Unearthed Words

 

Here's a poem by Theodore Roethke called Transplanting. 

Roethke said he wrote the poem from the perspective of "a very small child: all interior drama; no comment; no interpretation.”

Watching hands transplanting,
Turning and tamping,
Lifting the young plants with two fingers,
Sifting in a palm-full of fresh loam,--
One swift movement,--
Then plumping in the bunched roots,
A single twist of the thumbs, a tamping and turning,
All in one,Quick on the wooden bench,
A shaking down, while the stem stays straight,
Once, twice, and a faint third thump,--
Into the flat-box it goes,
Ready for the long days under the sloped glass:
The sun warming the fine loam,
The young horns winding and unwinding,
Creaking their thin spines,
The underleaves, the smallest buds
Breaking into nakedness,
The blossoms extending
Out into the sweet air,
The whole flower extending outward,
Stretching and reaching.

 

 

Hailed as a classic from its first publication, Perennial Garden Plants describes over 2,000 species along with practical information on planting, seasonal flowering, color, propagation and cultivation as well as on the origins of plants.

 

Of this book Graham Stuart Thomas said, 

"I have tried to be truthful, concise and at the same time appetizing; Appetizing because it is my desire to encourage you to grow these lovely things; the smaller ones among them maybe called garden toys, while many of the larger kinds are plants of great personality.  To whichever class they belong they are growing things, of a beauty unsurpassed among the passive things of this world and worthy of our reverence and awe,  to be treasured and enshrined in our gardens."

 


Today's Garden Chore

 

Plant Your Shade Trees Wisely.
 
Today's chore was featured inThe South Bend Tribune out of South Bend, Indiana on this day in 1952.

Here's what it said,
"Don't plant plant your shade tree so that It shades your neighbor's yard Instead of your own.
 
If you set the tree on the eastern border of your property, it will shade your neighbor's yard instead of your own garden during the hottest part of the day, in the afternoon.
 
...Consider your plantings as a permanent investment in beauty and comfort that is worth real thought."

 

 


Something Sweet 
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

 
Today in 1966, the New York Daily News shared the TV listing for 9pm: a repeat episode of Bewitched starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York.
 
In the episode, rare black Peruvian roses robbed Samantha of her witching powers and gave her little green square spots on her face. Aunt Clara remembers that the Peruvian black rose was used to drive witches out of Peru. She sends Darrin off to gather items for the antidote that she will brew: bat wings, porpoise milk, eye of newt and an ostrich feather.
 
Luckily for Samantha, Aunt Clara said that she could only get Peruvian black rose sickness once.
 
 

 


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