July 12, 2019 Giant Water Lily, Captain Cook, Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau, Gardens Are for People by Thomas Church, Propagating Pelargoniums, and Yerba Buena

In China, July is the month of the lotus.

Recently I shared a video in the Facebook Group for the Show from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh,, which shows Senior Horticulturist, Pat Clifford, teaching their intern Hazel, how to remove the older leaves of the Giant Water Lily so the pond does not get overcrowded.

Using a pitchfork, Pat carefully folds the giant lily pad first in half, then quarters, and then once more.

Then he stabs the large folded pad with the pitchfork, hoists it in the air to let the water drain out, and then flops the beast down on the edge of the pond.

The camera zooms in to reveal the most savage thorns that grow on the underside of the lily pad and all down the stem of the plant. It was so surprising to see how viscous the thorns are - rivaling the thorniest rose.




#OTD It's the anniversary of the day that Captain Cook arrived in England in 1771.

He had successfully led that first voyage to Australia. But, neither Cook nor his botanist Joseph Banks, realized that the quartz reef where they planted the British Flag contained gold. The area would remain untouched by Europeans for almost two more decades.

And, Cook's ship, the Endeavor, had somehow managed to survive the trials of sailing on the Great Barrier Reef and River. Before he sailed for England, Cook worried the Endeavor wouldn't make it around the Cape of Good Hope.

In a fateful decision, Cook had brought the ship to Batavia, a Dutch colony, to fortify his boat. Batavia was a dangerous place. Malaria and dysentery were rampant. As a result of his stop in Batavia, Cook lost a staggering 38 members of his crew. The botanists, Banks, and Solander, managed to survive the stop, although, at one point, they were both gravely ill. Even as they battled back from illness, they still went out to collect specimens.

So, on this day, in 1771, Cook and Banks and Solander make it home to England. Three hundred sixty-five days later, Cook would be setting sail once more, but this time Banks would not be going. Instead, a German, Johann Reinhold Forster and his son Georg—would be the botanists for his next big adventure.



#OTD Today, in 1835, Charles Darwin wrote a letter to his friend J.S. Henslow.

He wrote:

“In a few days time the Beagle will sail for the Galapagos Islands. I look forward with joy and interest to this, both as being somewhat nearer to England and for the sake of having a good look at an active volcano.”

Throughout his life, Darwin exchanged letters with John Stevens Henslow, professor of Botany and Mineralogy at Cambridge University. Their correspondence was a powerful influence on Darwin, helping to shape his thinking about the natural world.

And, it was thanks to Henslow that Darwin received the invitation to join captain Robert FitzRoy on the HMS Beagle. Henslow had written a letter recommending Darwin for the journey because of his likable personality.

When they were young, Henslow and Darwin had walked the Cambridgeshire countryside together. Their walks inspired Darwin to study the natural world and to travel.

Once Darwin was part of team Beagle, Henslow presented Darwin with a copy of Humboldt's Narrative, an account of Humboldt's travels in South America. In it, Henslow had inscribed these words:


"J. S. Henslow to his friend C. Darwin on his departure from England upon a voyage around the World. 21st Sept. 1831."


Darwin treasured this gift above all others, and at his death, the book was safely brought to Cambridge University Library, where it remains to this day.



Unearthed Words


#OTD It's the birthday of Henry David Thoreau, born on this day in 1817.

National Simplicity Day is observed on July 12th in his honor. Thoreau was an advocate for living a life of simplicity.

Thoreau said all of these things:

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

”The question is not what you look at, but what you see."

"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."

"Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw."



Today's book recommendation: Gardens Are for People by Thomas Church

Church is one of the most influential American landscape architects of the twentieth century.

Church's ideas on the 'modern' landscape revolutionized residential landscape design, changing the look of the suburban back yard. His notion that the suburban backyard should be an extension of the house, essentially creating an outdoor room was revolutionary.

Gardens Are for People contains the essence of Thomas Church's design philosophy and much practical advice. His four design principles include:

• Unity
• Function
• Simplicity
• Scale

The book is loaded with photographs of some of the 2,000 gardens designed by Church.

It was Thomas Church who said:

"When your garden is finished I hope it will be more beautiful that you anticipated, require less care than you expected, and have cost only a little more than you had planned."




Today's Garden Chore

Propagate pelargoniums through cutting.

If you've never taken cuttings of your pelargoniums before, you will be delighted with the results. Pelargoniums are also known as cranesbills or hardy geraniums.

All you need to do is snip off short lengths of your favorite pelargonium, remove any leaves from the lower part of the stem that will get pushed into your growing medium, dip the stem in some rooting powder, and then place it in the pot. Pelargoniums root so quickly - you'll have many new plants in just a few weeks.



Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

Over the years, people have left their hearts in San Francisco.

The author Rudyard Kipling said,

"San Francisco has only one drawback – ’tis hard to leave."

Paul Kanter of Jefferson Airplane said,

"San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality."

Ashleigh Brilliant, author and cartoonist, said,

"There may not be a Heaven, but there is San Francisco."

The writer William Saroyan said,

"If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life."

During this week in 1969, newspapers across the country were sharing this little snippet about San Francisco.

"San Francisco was originally known as Yerba Buena. Spanish for "good herb," a small mint-like plant early explorers found."




Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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