July 26, 2019 Propagating Roses, RH Shumway, Aven Nelson, Ruth Pitter, The Rude Potato, How to Garden Through Dog Days, and Winthrop Mackworth Praed

Have you tried to propagate roses through cutting?

Maybe you want to pass along an old rose from a friend or simply make more of your own.

You can take a cutting of your rose, which is also called a slip.

When it comes to selecting the right stem, I look for a long, young shoot.

These new shoots are about the diameter of a pencil and have grown from spots I have pruned earlier in the year – which is another benefit of pruning.

Now, these shoots are pretty easy to spot; they are usually a little lighter in color, and they are super vigorous.

Anyway, you want to cut one long shoot down low and then make your hardwood slips from that one long shoot.

If you look at the long stem you just cut, you’ll notice that, at the top, the stem is pliable, meaning you can bend it quite easily. But as you go further down the stem, you’ll begin to notice that the soft, pliability goes away, and all you’re left with is what we call hardwood.

That’s where you will take your cuttings.

From one long stem, I can usually get three or four 5 to 7-inch cuttings.

So, bottom line; Don’t take your cutting from a bendable stem.

Now when you make your slips, use something sharp – it can be a knife or a pruner.

For the bottom of the cutting, cut straight across - right below a bud (where the leads to connect to the stem.)

For the top of your slip, cut at an angle - right above a bud.

Using those bud connection points as guides for cutting is essential because this is where loads of non-determinant cells like to hang out.

That means the plants can leverage them to make roots or shoots, depending on what it needs to do to survive. Pretty cool, huh?

Then, I strip the leaves off from the lower 4 inches of the stem, leaving only one or two leaf clusters at the tip.

Next, I trim some of the bark from the bottom inch or so of the cutting, making it slightly squarish (like a mint stem), and then I dip that into rooting powder.

Finally, place the bottom 3-4 inches of the cutting into well-drained potting soil in the ground and cut and cover the slip with a mason jar.





#OTD It’s the birthday of Roland Hallet Shumway, who was born on this day in 1842.


A pioneering seedsman out of Rockford, Illinois, Shumway always went by his initials of R.H.

The RH Shumway Seed Company became the world's largest mail-order seed company; their "Marketmore" seeds are especially popular.

Famous Shumway Seed customers included Bing Crosby and Perry Como.

When Shumway was 19, he enlisted in the army to serve in the Civil War. He contracted bronchitis and became totally deaf during his service.

Once Shumway was asked how he would like to be remembered. He gave a three-word response: Good Seeds Cheap.

Shumway said that he wanted to make sure,

“That good seeds were within the reach of the poorest planters“


As with any venture, sweat equity drives success.

Shumway said,

“From the beginning of the new year, until after spring planting, my industrious employees work 16 hours a day, and myself and my family 18 or more hours per day. Are we not surely knights at labor? How can we do more? Do we not deserve the patronage of every planter in America ?”


In 1905, Shumway donated land in Rockford for the Shumway Market on the condition that the city preserve the Farmer's Market in perpetuity,

“for the benefit of all and the poor especially.“


The market ran year-round on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

This was THE place for farmers and people to gather and sell their fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

Today the area behind the market building a parking lot.

In the 1980s, Shumway Seed was sold only to be bought later by JW Jung in the 1990s.



#OTD It's the 120th anniversary of the 14-week botanical expedition through Yellowstone led by the botanist Aven Nelson.

Aven had hired a student named Leslie Goodding to be the chore boy for $10 per month.

The group assembled at the University of Wyoming, where Nelsen had been hired to teach.

Leslie remembered the excitement on campus at the prospect of going on the trek, saying,

“Some three or four months were to be spent in Yellowstone park collecting plants… Many students… were anxious to accompany Dr. Nelson on [the] expedition, and were willing to work for nothing just to see the Park… This was in the days when autos were much like hen's teeth and trips through the Park by stage were expensive.“


(Note: The euphemism “hen's teeth“ refers to something being exceptionally rare; since hens have no teeth, it implies that something is so scarce it is virtually nonexistent. So, during the time of this expedition – no vehicles.)

In addition to Leslie, another botany student named Elias Nelsen, (no relation to Aven), joined the group.

Anyway, on this day in 1899, Leslie and Elias had gone collecting near an area called Artist Paint Pots; it's a dangerous area with over 50 springs, geysers, vents, and mud pots. Geothermal features are some of the deadliest natural features in Yellowstone, but people often fail to realize that fact.

To this day, park rangers rescue one or two visitors, who fall from boardwalks or wander off designated paths and punch their feet through the thin earthen crust into boiling water.

Yet, drawn by curiosity, Elias ignored the warning signs and went off the path. Suddenly, he found himself with one leg sunk into boiling mud. He managed to free himself, and Aven's wife did what she could with soda and flour to bandage his wounds, and the doc at the nearest town recommend Elias return home for treatment.

Despite the challenges posed by Yellowstone, Aven Nelsen and his team collected roughly 30,000 specimens, although only about 500 species were represented. Nelson had purposely gathered 20 -30 duplicates per species because he correctly assumed that institutions and collectors would want specimens from Yellowstone.

Today, Nelson is remembered as the Father of Wyoming Botany, but his greatest legacy is the Rocky Mountain Herbarium created from Nelson's collection of Yellowstone plants.



Unearthed Words

Here are a few verses about July from a poem by Ruth Pitter called The Diehards from her wonderful book called "The Rude Potato."

"We go in withering July

To ply the hard incessant hoe;

Panting beneath the brazen sky

We sweat and grumble, but we go."



Today's book recommendation: The Rude Potato by Ruth Pitter

As a gardener herself, Ruth had personal knowledge of flowers. She loved gardening, and she wrote her poetry when she finished her chores and her gardening.

The Rude Potato is a very witty entertaining collection of poems about gardens and gardeners.



Today's Garden Chore

Work early, and stay cool.

To avoid the high temps, potential sunburn, and bug bites, I go out in the morning, work for no more than a two-hour stint and wrap up no later than 10 am. For self-care, I set up a sports umbrella for shade, and I bring a massive fan around with me to stay cool. The fan also keeps the bugs at bay; mosquitos especially are not good fliers.



Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

#OTD Today is the birthday of Winthrop Mackworth Praed - Praed was an English writer and politician remembered for his humorous verse.

He wrote,

"I remember, I remember how my childhood fleeted by. The mirth of its December, and the warmth of its July."

Praed's home had a fine grove. He had an orangery and beautiful grounds overlooking a harbor. Praed tragically died at 37 from tuberculosis.

For many years, his fans enjoyed this little story about him:

"A man went to a bookshop and asked, "Have you, Browning?"

And the clerk replied, "No, we can't sell him. People say they can't understand him."

Then the customer asked, "Have you Praed?"

And the clerk said, "Yes, we've prayed, and we can't understand him.



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and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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