It's National Rainier Cherry Day.

Rainier cherries were bred at Washington State University by crossing Vans and Bings.

They are one of the most delicate and challenging cherries to grow because of one big drawback: their thin red-yellow skin. This makes them super sensitive to the elements, and they bruise easily.

Even if a grower can address these challenges, they still must contend with the birds.

Birds LOVE Rainiers and can eat as much as 1/3 of the cherry crop before the harvest arrives. Watch what happens if you add a few Rainier Cherries to your bird feeder.

 

 


Brevities

#OTD Today in Fettercairn Scottland in 1857, the amateur botanist David Prain was born.

He would ultimately become the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Calcutta and Kew.

Prain was sent to Calcutta in 1887 to be the curator of the herbarium. He researched Indian hemp, followed by other crops like wheat, mustard, pulses, and indigo for the Bengal government. Prain's most crucial work involved Cinchona plantations. The bark of cinchona trees contains quinine, which is used to treat malaria. In Prain's obituary, it said that he set up a system to send every village in India quinine through the local post offices, thereby saving unnumbered lives.

During Prain's directorship at Kew, the medicinal garden was installed at Cambridge Cottage, and the Japanese gateway was acquired for the 1910 Japan-British exhibition. Prain also reinstated the Kew Bulletin.

Prain's most significant professional challenge at Kew came not from a plant, but a person. William Purdom was a sub-foreman at Kew, and he was passionate about making sure that the garden staff was being treated fairly.

The discord stemmed from some of the gardeners at Kew, discovering that their positions were only temporary. Having wages well below market levels didn't help either. Even though all of this was set in place before Prain assumed the directorship, it fell to him to fix everything.

Prain's humble origins gave him a heart for his workers, and he did his best to remedy the situation. Despite Prain's reasonable efforts to mediate the situation, Purdom made it personal. Prain finally forced the issue, basically saying that it was either him or Purdom. In a noble gesture, Prain worked to get Purdom a spot on the expedition to China by Harry Veitch and the Arnold Arboretum.

Today, history looks back at Prain with admiration, that he could recognize the talents of an employee, even while disagreeing with him - and all the while acting with fairness and integrity.

 

 


#OTD Today, in 1941 the Amarillo Daily News ran an article featuring Charles Sumner Lambie, who was a Denver area civil engineer by day and a rare orchid breeder by night.

Lambie grew up in Pittsburgh, tending the family garden. He later married Margaret McCandless, and together they raised nine children.

As his engineering firm became successful, Lambie's wife said he turned to the hobby of raising orchids as a means of relief from the stresses of his job. Mr. Lambie shared an upside that he discovered about greenhouse gardening: He no longer suffers from hayfever as he did when he gardened outside.

After sharing the various types of orchids grown by Lambie, the article shared Lambie's method for documenting his plants. Here's what it said:

"Mr. Lambie has a card index file ... on each plant. Here is a simple entry from the card of C. Talisman:

L.O. Talisman: 6 inches, December 1938, Christmas; Winter Bloomer, October to early summer, variable. Flowers large, Sepals and petals – Light to dark rose. Lip, dark rich crimson; Throat purple with yellow – gold veins."

Mr. Lambie puts a protective canopy over the orchids when they are in bloom, and he sprays them several times a day.

When Mr. Lambie leaves town on business, Mrs. Lambie makes sure that the orchids are watered several times today.

As the reporter for the story was leaving, Mrs. Lambie showed him a small orchid and shared that Mr. Lambie was given the orchid when he subscribed to an orchid magazine.

The orchid is called the Charles Lambie Rittenberry orchid named for their grandson, and of course, it receives "very careful attention," she added with a smile.

 


#OTD On this day in 1950, a very unusual dwarf Amaryllis species was collected in Peru by the eminent botanist, Dr. Ramon Ferreyra, July 11, 1950, and was sent to Dr. Hamilton P. Traub in the United States.

Unfortunately, the bulbs experienced frost while they were in the mail. Some of the bulbs were totally destroyed, the surviving bulbs all had been damaged.

It took almost 18 months for Dr. Traub to nurse the frosted plants back to health. In recognition of his patience and skill, the Amaryllis was named Hippeastrum traubii.

 

 


Unearthed Words

Here’s a sweet diary entry from 1938 for today by Canadian Naturalist Charles Joseph Sauriol (“Sar-ee-all”) shared by the Toronto Archives on their fabulous twitter feed - which is a wonderful thing to follow:

"I find it hard to come in from the flower borders. My Pansies are a garden of enchantment in themselves. People who love Pansies should grow them from seed. I took the advice and I have never had such a profusion of bloom and of so many colors."

 

 


Today's book recommendation: Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers, and Bamboos by Graham Stuart Thomas

Graham Stuart Thomas introduces this essential, comprehensive reference of wood plants this way:

"All through my life I have been discovering plants; I do not mean going out into the wilds of other countries and bringing back new treasures for our gardens. I am no dauntless traveler. But, I remember the thrill of my first winter as a student at the Cambridge University botanic Garden of sniffing for the first time the delectable scent of winter sweet and the winter flowering honeysuckles, and learning how to distinguish them from each other... I can claim to have grown, either directly or by proxy perhaps three quarters of the shrubs in this book; anymore have been observed to write about. "

Of his book, Thomas differentiates from others he has read on the subject:

"My book is designed to help the reader consider the arrangements of his garden as a whole, And to furnish the different rooms with plants."

Graham Stuart Thomas helps gardeners relate to shrubs through characteristics such as size, evergreen or deciduous, the color of flower, scent, the season of flowering, autumn color, methods of propagation are all given in an ingenious Line of Facts for easy reference. Lively short descriptions of the characters of each plant help amateurs and professionals alike choose what to grow and what to avoid.

 

 


Today's Garden Chore

Deadhead to encourage more blooms

What happens if you don't deadhead?

You might miss out on valuable time that your plant could use to create that second flush of blooms.
Plants to deadhead include coreopsis, blue and white clips, geraniums, and dianthus.

Another reason is to encourage more blooms the following year.

Dead flower heads become seed pods, and that takes energy from the plant. So be sure to deadhead peonies, roses, iris, and lilies.

As a general rule, when any plant looks leggy, it will benefit from deadheading or plain ol' pruning.

 


Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

 

#OTD Today, in 1936, the Danish botanist Clarence Henry Dennesen celebrated his 103rd birthday.

Dennesen was once an internationally recognized authority on botany, and he led a wonderful life.

He was a captain under Christian IX in Denmark's war with Germany, was wounded in battle and captured by the enemy, was shipwrecked on the Isle of Crete, and sailed around Cape Hope. After the adventurous days of the soldier and sailor, he became a professor at the Copenhagen School of Botany, and among his pupils was a little princess who later became Queen Alexandria, mother of King George of England, and a little prince who later became King Constantine of Greece.

The newspaper reported that,

"the men's Bible class of St. John's Lutheran Church, in Jacksonville Florida, had planned a surprise birthday party, but the jolly old Dane wink as he hinted it is hard to surprise the man who is been around for 103 years."

Dennesen immigrated to America in 1881 and lived to be 111 years old.

 

 


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