July 18, 2019 Growing Chervil, Gilbert White, Jane Austen, Frederick Law Olmsted, Eleanor Sinclair-Rhode, A Southern Garden by Elizabeth Lawrence, Irrigation Check, Maxfield Parrish and The Botanist
Have you tried growing the herb chervil?
Chervil tastes similar to tarragon - it's sometimes called gourmet parsley. It has a beautiful fern-like leaf, which turns red in the fall, which is another plus. August is a beautiful time to sow chervil - so keep that in mind.
The 1884 Dictionary of English Names of Plants lists chervil as “the shepherd’s clock’’ because the blossoms open at five in the morning and then close up around eight in the evening. The word chervil is derived from a Greek word meaning “the herb of rejoicing’’ or “the cheer leaf."
#OTD It's the birthday of the English naturalist, Gilbert White, who was born on this day in 1720.
White kept a journal for almost three decades, where he recorded observations of his garden. It was eventually published as a Calendar of Flora and the Garden, followed by the Naturalist’s Journal.
People immediately recognized White had a gift for observation and for describing with vivid clarity the goings-on in the natural world.
Here's a little of what he wrote in his journal on this day in 1781; his 61st birthday:
"Farmers complain that their wheat is blited.
In the garden at Dowland’s,... stands a large Liriodendrum tulipifera, or tulip-tree, which was in flower. The soil is poor sand; but produces beautiful pendulous Larches.
Mr R’s garden, ... abounds in fruit, & in all manner of good & forward kitchen-crops. Many China-asters this spring seeded themselves there... some cucumber-plants also grew-up of themselves from the seeds of a rejected cucumber thrown aside last autumn. Mr R’s garden is at an average a fortnight before mine."
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the author and gardener Jane Austen.
Austen loved gardens. She had a heart for ornamentals, herbs, and kitchen gardening. And, her family always had a garden - growing their food and beautifying their homes with flowers.
In every one of her books, Austen included gardens.
We know from Austen's letters to her sister Cassandra that gardens brought her joy, and they were also regulating.
In 1807, she wrote about the redesign of her garden:
"I could not do without a syringa... We talk also of a laburnum. The border under the terrace wall is clearing away to receive currants and gooseberry bushes, and a spot is found very proper for raspberries."
In 1814, she wrote about the garden outside her rented room,
"The garden is quite a love... I live in the room downstairs; it is particularly pleasant...opening upon the garden. I go and refresh myself every now and then, and then come back to Solitary Coolness."
#OTD It was on this day in 1863 that the father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, walked the battlefield of Gettysburg, just 15 days after the battle.
Olmsted was the General Secretary of the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) - overseeing the support of sick and wounded soldiers of the United States Army during the Civil War. At times, Olmsted personally treated the battlefield wounds of soldiers. Olmsted was handpicked for the job thanks to his success in designing and overseeing New York City's Central Park, one of the country's most significant public works projects. A week after the battle at Gettysburg, Olmsted arranged for 40 tons of supplies to flow into Gettysburg every day - bringing in items like surgeon’s silk, fans, butter, shoes, and crutches. By July 18, the scene had settled down enough that Olmsted could walk the fields of Gettysburg. In Martin's biography of Olmsted, he shared that Olmsted, "was struck by the scale of the place; everything had happened across distances far greater than he had supposed." Ever attuned to the landscape, Olmsted also noted that "The hills were gentle and rolling, so very out of kilter with the carnage that was everywhere still in evidence... Olmsted came across spent shells and twisted bayonets, broken-down wagons, and half-buried dead horses. Particularly touching, to Olmsted, was the random strew of Union and Confederate caps, often together on the ground, shot through with bullet holes."
Recently, I've started collecting cuttings from my garden to make my own potpourris and sachets.
Here's a quote from Eleanor Sinclair-Rhode about this lovely garden pastime:
"No bought potpourri is so pleasant as that made from ones own garden, for the petals of the flowers one has gathered at home hold the sunshine and memories of summer, and of past summers only the sunny days should be remembered."
Today's book recommendation: A Southern Garden by Elizabeth Lawrence
As much as I love to garden, there are days when it's just too hot or humid to go out there. I draw the line when sweat starts to trickle into my eyeballs - then it's time to call it a day. Lawrence's Southern Garden is a classic. This is Lawrence's personal experience with gardening - my favorite kind of gardening book. Although Lawrence's growing zone isn't always applicable to where you might be gardening, I guarantee you'll learn something. Her writing about gardens and gardening is conversational, thoughtful, and charming.
Today's Garden Chore
Do a summer check of all your irrigation systems and repair anything broken.
I sooo wish I would have done this last summer. By the time I discovered a leak, we had a big water problem to address.
In the garden, too much water can be just as harmful as too little. Throw in temperature extremes, and you have a perfect storm - inviting fungal and other diseases, pests, and other problems.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
On this day in 1908, Maxfield Parrish Print, called The Botanist, appeared on the cover of Colliers Magazine.
The image shows a full-length profile of a man wearing a long botanical green coat. In his raised right hand, he is holding a plant, and in his left hand, he is clutching a magnifying glass while a few open reference books are tucked under his arm. He has a specimen case slung over his back. The classic image was made into poster-sized prints in the 1970s.
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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