July 31, 2019 Poppies, Christopher Lloyd, Daniel Defoe, Mary Vaux Walcott, Richard Morris Hunt, Smithsonian Gardens, Robert Frost, Gardenista by Michelle Slatalla, Updating Beds, and National Avacado Day

Did you know that poppies were Christopher Lloyd's favorite flower?

In his short essay about poppies, he introduces 'Goliath' poppies, which grow to 4 feet tall and offer the most abundant blooms of any poppy.

Lloyd wrote about the blooms saying,

"They are rich crimson, which is as exciting as scarlet. In choosing plant neighbors to vie with it, I have been best pleased with an equally bright and pure yellow giant buttercup. Ranunculus acris ‘Stevenii.’ It is, however, shocking to discover that there are some gardeners (and non -gardeners) of congenitally weak and palsied constitution who do not like strong colors and who even pride themselves, as a class apart, on their good taste. The good-taste brigade can only think comfortably in terms of color harmonies and of soft and soothing pastel shades."

Oh, how it pains the heart to be called out by Christopher Lloyd, doesn't it?

Well, even though he thinks we're too meek when it comes to color in the garden, we are in violent agreement when it comes to procurement. You'll love this little snippet about how he came to own the poppy "Beauty Queen":

"I took a fancy to ‘Beauty Queen’ in a friend’s
garden in Scotland in June, when it was flowering,
and received permission to take a piece. When you see a plant that you must have, the answer to the question “Would you like some at the right time? should be “I’d rather have it now,” right time or not. Otherwise, the right time will surely slip by, the transference of the coveted piece from central Scotland to the south of England (or from California to Maine) will be in convenient, and all you’ll have is a gnawing gap in the pit of your wish-world."





#OTD It was on this day in 1703 that Daniel Defoe was made to stand in the pillory in front of the temple bar.

The pillory was a stockade; the hands and head between two were stuck between two giant beams of wood. It was a horrible punishment. It was usually reserved for hideous crimes.

When Dafoe was convicted of treason, the crowds did their best to show their support; they threw flowers at his feet instead of mud.

The image of Defoe standing with his head and hands in the stocks surrounded by an adoring audience was memorialized in an 1862 painting.

In 1830, a biography of Defoe said that the stocks were adorned with garlands and that drinks were provided to celebrate Dafoe's release.



#OTD It’s the birthday of Mary Vaux Walcott born in Philadelphia today in 1860.

Gardeners know Walcott for her work as a botanical illustrator; she created meticulously accurate watercolors of plants and flowers. She is known as the "Audobon of botany."

Walcott became an illustrator one summer after being challenged to paint a rare blooming Arnica. Although her effort was only a modest success, it encouraged her to pursue art. In that pursuit, she met Charles Doolittle Walcott. They were both doing fieldwork in the Canadian Rockies, and they found they were equally yoked. They married the following year.

At the time, Charles was the secretary of the Smithsonian; that's how Walcott came to develop the Smithsonian process printing technique.

Walcott created hundreds of illustrations of the native plants of North America.

Her five-volume set entitled North American Wildflowers showcases the stunning beauty of common wildflowers, many of which are at peak bloom right now.

In addition to her work as a botanist, Mary was a successful glacial geologist and photographer.

She was the first woman to summit a peak over 10,000 feet in Canada when she tackled Mount Stephen. Today Walcott even has a mountain named after her in Jasper - Mount Mary Vaux.



#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of Richard Morris Hunt, who was an American architect during the gilded age.

Gardeners know Hunt for his collaborations with the Frederick Law Olmsted. They worked together on the Vanderbilt mausoleum and the Chicago world‘s fair. Their ultimate collaboration occurred in Asheville, North Carolina, where they worked together to design the gardens, house, and manor village for the Biltmore Estate.

Hunt is often recognized as the Dean of American Architecture. He was the first American trained at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Although Hunt and Olmsted had a history, they clashed over Hunt's design for the southern entrance to Central Park.

Hunt had won the competition to design it, but Olmsted and Vaux balked when they saw Hunt's grand plan.

For the main entrance at Fifth Avenue, Hunt had designed what he called the Gate of Peace. It included a circular fountain within a square parterre.

The most magnificent part of his plan was a semi-circular terrace with a 50-foot column featuring a sailor and a Native American holding up the cities arms. At the base of the column was to be a monument to Henry Hudson. It involved a pool of water featuring Neptune in his chariot and Henry Hudson standing on the prowl of a ship. On the backside, there was a memorial to Christopher Columbus.

Thinking the public would embrace his grand vision, Hunt decided to promote his designs for the park all on his own.

But Hunt did not appreciate Vaux's is power. Although privately, Vaux said that Hunt's plans were "splendid and striking,"; publicly, he told a friend they were, "what the country had been fighting against... Napoleon III in disguise all over. Vaux summarized that Hunt's designs were "not American, but the park was."

Ironically, in 1898, a memorial was erected in Central Park to honor Richard Morris Hunt.

The memorial is located on the eastern perimeter of the park, and it was created by the same man who created the monument to Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial: Daniel Chester French.

When he was alive, Hunt wanted to elevate the public taste in design and the arts, but he was also flexible enough to meet them where they were. It was Richard Maurice Hunter who said,

"The first thing you've got to remember is that it's your clients' money you're spending. Your goal is to achieve the best results by following their wishes. If they want you to build a house upside down standing on its chimney, it's up to you to do it."



#OTD It was on this day in 1972 that the horticulture program at the Smithsonian Gardens was established by Sydney Dylan Ripley, who was the secretary of the Smithsonian.

An American ornithologist and conservationist, as a child, Ripley had been inspired by the area around the Louvre in France. He had hoped to make the Smithsonian a bustling destination with activities for visitors and tourists. The purpose of the establishment of the horticultural services division was to provide landscaping in and around the Smithsonian museums.

In 2010, the horticultural program was renamed the Smithsonian Gardens to recognize the role that the gardens play in the visitor experience.



Unearthed Words

Here's a poem by Robert Frost called ‘Lodged.’

This is a short garden poem. In six little lines, Frost connects himself to the flowers in the flowerbed, pelted by wind and rain, yet through it all, managing to survive.

The rain to the wind said,
'You push, and I'll pelt.'
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged--though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.



Today's book recommendation: Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces by Michelle Slatalla

Slatella's book was named "the best gift book for gardeners" by the New York Times book review.

The book was put together by the team responsible for Gardenista and Remodelista. It’s chockfull of hundreds of design tips and easy DIY‘s. It features 100 classic garden objects and a landscaping primer with advice from the pros.

It’s a fantastic resource for folks hoping to get Garden Design 101 tips from the best and most creative in the business.



Today's Garden Chore

Check for overcrowding and overall areas of meh.

Garden chores tend to get pushed aside this time of year.

But it's worth spending a little time this week looking closely at the overall appearance of your beds, borders, and containers.

Take your camera with you to document what you see.

If the beds are both crowded and unattractive, you'll probably need to do a bit of pruning and transplanting to whip those beds into shape for the remainder of the season.



Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

Today is National Avocado Day.

Avocado is a fruit, and it was initially called an alligator pear by Sir Hans Sloane in 1696.

And, Guinness has a giant avocado recorded at 5 pounds 6 1/2 ounces.

Don’t forget that the skin of an avocado can be toxic to cats and dogs - but the flesh of an avocado is higher in potassium than bananas.

Now, the next time the price of avocados gets you down, remember that avocados are harvested by hand. Pickers need to use a 16-foot pole to reach the hanging fruit.

And, finally, here’s a little fun fact about avocados:

The conquistadors used avocado seeds to write.

It turns out, the avocado seed produces a milky liquid that changes to the color red when exposed to air.



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

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