July 29, 2019 A Peter Rabbit Garden, Thomas Nuttal, Edith Coleman, Ryan Gainey, The First Plant Patent, Sara Coleridge, The Education of a Gardener by Russell Page, Dividing Iris, Charles Clemon Deam, and Honeysuckle

Do you have children or grandchildren?

A Peter Rabbit Garden is a lovely idea for you to consider.

Of course, Peter Rabbit is the creation of Beatrix Potter, who was a noted botanist and mycologist. (A mycologist studies fungi). Potter's garden was located at Hill Top Farm.

In making your Peter Rabbit garden, you could add a little wooden fence or a low stone wall around the perimeter.

Inside, use the herbs and perennials featured in the books:

Herbs include Mint, Chamomile, Lavender, Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, and Tansy.

Edibles include Lettuce, Beets, Radish, Rhubarb, Onions, and Strawberry

Then add Pansies, Roses, and Pinks.




#OTD On this day in 1810, Thomas Nuttal, just 24 years old, jumped in a birch bark canoe with Aaron Greely, the deputy surveyor of the territory of Michigan, and they paddled to Mackinac Island arriving two weeks later on August 12.

Nuttal spent several days on Mackinac - He was the first real botanist to explore the flora of Michigan, and indeed of Mackinac Island. Nuttal immediately set about collecting and writing detailed accounts of the flora he discovered. He documented about sixty species - about twenty were previously unknown. One of the new Mackinac discoveries was the dwarf lake iris (Iris lucustris), which became the state wildflower of Michigan.



#OTD It’s the birthday of Edith Coleman, an Australian naturalist, and a prolific writer, who was born on this day in 1874.

Until recently, little was known about Coleman. The author, Danielle Claude, wrote a book about Coleman called The Wasp and the Orchid, which explored how Coleman went from being a housewife until the age of 48 and then transformed into one of Australia’s leading naturalists.

Coleman had a special appreciation for orchids. Beginning in January 1927, one of her daughters told her that she had seen a wasp entering the flower of the small tongue orchid backward. The odd behavior was something both Coleman and her daughter would repeatedly see over the next few seasons. The response was perplexing, especially after Coleman dissected the plants and discovered that they were male. Coleman continued to study their behavior, and she finally found that the wasp was fertilizing the orchid. The orchid uses this stealth pollination strategy Called pseudo-copulation to trick the male wasps into thinking they are meeting with a female wasp. By getting the males to enter the plant, the plant can be pollinated.

Coleman became the first woman to be awarded the Australian natural history medallion. Coleman will forever be remembered for her groundbreaking discovery about orchid pollination.



#OTD And it’s the anniversary of the death of Ryan Gainey, the landscape designer extraordinaire who died on this day in 2016.

Gainey died trying to save his beloved Jack Russell terrier’s jellybean Leo and baby Ruth from a fire at his home. Neither he nor his dogs survived.

When it came to landscape design, Gainey was entirely self-taught.

In the beautiful documentary about his life called “The Well-Placed Weed: The Bountiful Life of Ryan Gainey." (btw I shared it in the FB group so check it out)

In the documentary, Gainey asked the filmmaker, "I’ve had a wild life. Do you know why?"

His reply was simple and 100% Gainey: "I created it."

Gainey purchased a home in Decatur Georgia that used to be the site of Holcomb Nursery. He removed many of the greenhouses behind his home but kept the low brick walls that had served as the foundation for the greenhouses. The result was that Gainey instantly had a series of garden rooms that he could decorate and design to his heart's content. Throughout his career, Gainey became friends with notable designers and gardeners like Rosemary Verey and Penelope Hobhouse.


Gainey loved Verey; they had a special bond. He loved the Camellia japonica. Gainey's gardens looked effortless with things spilling over and nestled in a way that made them look like they had been in the garden for decades. It was Gainey who said,

"Where lies the genius of man? It is the ability to control nature... but for one purpose only; and that is to create beauty."


One hundred forty-eight days before Gainey passed away, an enormous white oak fell over and crushed his house. Gainey considered the tree to be the soul of his life.



#OTD It was on this day in 1931 that newspapers were reporting that Louis Schubert and August Rosenberg had the distinction of being the first recipients of a patent for a plant.

The patent was conferred for the first ever-blooming rose, which they named "The New Dawn."

The patentable feature was for its ever-blooming aspect. The new rose was described as identical with the Dr. Van Fleet climbing rose, except that instead of blooming once each year, it bloomed successively like the ever-blooming tea roses.

President Hoover signed the plant patent act on May 23, 1930. The patent for New Dawn was assigned shortly after President Herbert Hoover signed the bill. A plant patent gives the exclusive right to reproduce, use, or sell an invention or discovery throughout the United States for 17 years.



Unearthed Words

"Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots and gillyflowers."
- Sara Coleridge, Pretty Lessons in Verse


"A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay.
A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon.
A swarm of bees in July is not worth a fly."



Today's book recommendation: The Education of A Gardener by Russell Page

Russell Page is one of the legendary gardeners and landscapers of the twentieth century. First published in 1962, this book shares his charming anecdotes and timeless gardening advice.



Today's Garden Chore

Now is a great time to deal with your Iris.

When your irises finish blooming, cut off the dead flower stalks; but not leaves. Iris use their swords, the green leaves, to nourish rhizomes for the following year.

Since they are semi-dormant, you can divide them now if necessary. Replant them as soon as possible and remember to cut off about two-thirds of the foliage to compensate for root loss. Simply cut the leaves in a fan shape and enjoy more iris next year.




Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

On this day, in 1951, the botanist Charles Clemon Deam replied to an inquiry about the honeysuckle.

Deam wrote:

"That [plant's] name is to me the same as a red flag to a bull. I cannot tell you in words how I regard this vine. Your question is does it propagate from seed. I do not believe it does. ... I have never heard a good word for it. . . . All that I can say affirmatively is that it is no good for anything."


In concluding this condemnation of the honeysuckle, he twice suggests that some of the new "insecticides" might kill it.



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