Let's start today off by talking briefly about bolting cilantro.
Why does cilantro bolt, and how should you address it?
You can help delay when cilantro bolts by planting it in part shade instead of full sun and keeping the plant cool and moist. Heat is a stressor and sensing its own mortality; cilantro will bolt quickly in hot weather.
You can also buy a slow-bolt cilantro variety and harvest the leaves more often to keep the stalks under control.
#OTD It's the birthday of the English architect, Inigo Jones, born today in 1573.
Jones introduced classical Roman architecture and the Italian Renaissance to Britain.
He left his mark on London by his design of buildings, such as the classically styled Queen's House for James' queen, Anne of Denmark. Sadly, Anne died after work on the building started. It took another 15 years before it was finished; It was presented to queen Henrietta Maria. Inspired by an Italian palace, it caused a sensation when it was revealed.
Today, gardeners remember that Jones designed the layout for Covent Garden square. The Duke of Bedford asked Jones to build a residential square using the Italian piazza for Inspiration. The Duke felt he had to include a church, but he told Jones to put up something simple like a barn. Jones' famous response was that the Duke would have "the finest barn in Europe." Covent Garden square became the chief produce market for Londoners.
#OTD It's the anniversary of the death of the botanist John Wilson who died on this day in 1751.
It was Wilson who first attempted a systematic arrangement of the plants of Great Britain in the English language. From an occupational standpoint, Wilson was a shoemaker and then a baker.
There is a little story that is often told about Wilson - although its veracity has been questioned.
Apparently Wilson was so intent on the pursuit of botany that he was tempted to sell his cow to by the book written by the Scottish botanist and taxonomist Robert Morison. The transaction would have caused Wilson's financial ruin had a neighbor lady not purchased the book for him.
And there was one other story that reveals Wilson's self-taught expertise and personality.
Wilson had traveled to the county of Durham, where he met a man who enjoyed growing rare plants.
The man challenged Wilson to a contest of skill. The man thought himself superior to Wilson and when he could not stump him with the names of the rarities in his garden. Wilson turned about and grabbed a wild herb, which the man simply dismissed as a weed.
But, Wilson stated that a weed was a term of art, not a product of nature: adding, that the explanation proved his antagonist to be a gardener, not a botanist.
And so, the contest ended.
#OTD It's the birthday of William Robinson, the originator of the Herbaceous border and advocate for the wild garden, who was born on this day in 1838.
Robinson helped change the English landscape from formal to much more relaxed and attainable for the masses.
Robinson's work and books brought him financial security. By the age of 45, he had enough money to purchase the Elizabethan Manor of Gravetye in Sussex, along with almost two hundred acres of pasture and woodland.
In 1896, Gertrude Jekyll offered this summary of Robinson's impact on gardening:
"[Thanks to Robinson] ... we may see how best to use and enjoy the thousands of beautiful plants that have been brought to us by the men who have given fortune, health and often life in perilous travel that our gardens may be enriched and botanical knowledge extended. We cannot now, with all this treasure at our feet, neglect it and refuse it the gratefully appreciative use that it deserves."
Today is the birthday of Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps, who was born on this day in 1793.
Phelps wrote about nature, and her textbook, Familiar Lectures on Botany, was first published in 1829.
Phelps taught at Amherst Academy, and her textbook was undoubtedly known and used by Emily Dickinson, who was a student there.
The following quotes show us that she was hip to the idea of mindfulness over 200 years ago.
Here's what she wrote:
"So, in the physical world mankind are prone to seek an explanation of uncommon phenomena only, while the ordinary changes of nature, which are in themselves equally wonderful, are disregarded."
"How often are the beauties of nature unheeded by man, who, musing on past ills, brooding over the possible calamities of the future, building castles in the air, or wrapped up in his own self-love and self-importance, forgets to look abroad, or looks with a vacant stare."
"Each opening bud, and care-perfected seed, Is as a page, where we may read of God."
Rosemary Verey’s book Classic Garden Design (1984) gives us a glimpse of how much she learned from various gardens of the past, with their topiary, knot gardens, and box-edged beds. All are incorporated in her Barnsley garden, providing a formal structure, softened by roses and herbaceous perennials, which adds interest even in the wintertime. Of course, one can't forget that it was Rosemary Verey who introduced and popularized the potager
You can get used copies of this book on Amazon, with the link above in the show notes for less than $6.
Today's Garden Chore
Incorporate perennial sweet pea into your garden.
Sweet peas are some of the most romantic flowers.
While the sweet pea is considered an annual, there are a few perennial cultivars, but keep in mind that they lack the honeyed fragrance.
Thomas Jefferson liked to grow this heirloom vine, also called everlasting pea. The vines can grow 9 to 12 feet tall and will offer up clusters of small white and pink blossoms. Everlasting sweet peas are an effortless cut flower; they practically arrange themselves.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
When I was researching William Robinson, I came across many different accounts of a story from his early days in horticulture.
Robinson was working on the estate of an Irish baronet. One cold night, the fires for keeping the greenhouses warm failed - the reason is unclear. Whatever the particulars, whether he argued with his boss, forgot to tend the fire, or acted in revenge, the result was that the tender plants in the greenhouse died. That night, Robinson walked all the way to Dublin, which he did not reach until the following morning.
When he arrived in Dublin, he asked Dr. David Moore, head of the botanical garden, what he should do. Moore must have liked Robinson because he offered him a job on the spot - but not with the greenhouses. Instead, he was put in charge of herbaceous plants - plants that die back in the winter and return in the spring after their season of rest. These plants also included English wildflowers.
In any case, the truth remains that Robinson forever after did not care for greenhouses, and he did not allow them at Gravetye Manor.
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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