August 5, 2019 Tussie-Mussies, Jeanne Baret, Fred Paxford, Candice Wheeler, Wendell Barry, The Herb Garden Cookbook by Lucinda Hutson, Start Pansy Seed, Elaine Cramer and the Hydrangea Bloom Festival

One of the things I love to do at the end of spending time in my garden is to make some tussie-mussies.

Tussie-mussies are also called nosegays or posies; they are small flower bouquets typically given as a gift. Mine are pretty small - with cuttings no longer than 6 inches. I like the charm of these little tussie-mussies. They are super fun to drop off by someone's mailbox or to set down near the register of your favorite barista. They look perfect when placed on top of a book or added to the top of a gift-wrapped package.

Irene Deitsch wrote a book called Tussie-Mussies a few years ago, and she explained the etymology of the word tussie-mussie - which I found quite helpful.

“A ‘tussie’ is a nosegay, which is a Middle English word for a small group of flowers held together in a little bouquet. 'Mussie’ refers to the moss that was moistened and put around the stems of the flowers to keep them from wilting. That’s why they’re called tussie-mussies.”




#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of Jeanne Baret, who died on this day in 1807.

Baret was the first woman to have circumnavigated the world as part of the expedition, which was led by Louis Antoine de Bougainville.

Beret was able to join the expedition after posing as a valet to the expedition's naturalist: Philibert Commerçon.

Before the expedition, Baret had been employed as Commerçon's housekeeper. A few years later, his wife died, and Baret took over the management of the household in addition to having a personal relationship with Commerçon.

Commerçon had poor health, and it was likely that he needed Baret to join him on the expedition because he needed her assistance.

Baret herself was a botanist herself and her own right. When the ship stopped in Rio de Janeiro, an old leg injury prevented Commerçon from collecting specimens. Thus, it was Baret who ventured out into the tropics and returned with the lovely tropical vine that would be named to honor the expedition's commander: Bougainvillea.




#OTD It’s the birthday of Frederick William Calcut Paxford, who was born on this day in 1898.

Paxford was CS Lewis's gardener from 1930 until Lewis' death in 1963.

Paxford was the inspiration for Puddleglum; the marsh Weigle and the silver chair in the chronicles of Narnia where Puddleglum was described as,

“an inwardly optimistic, outwardly pessimistic, dear, frustrating, shrewd countryman of immense integrity.“

Paxford and Lewis were the same age. However, Paxford had served during World War I, and he had been gassed as a soldier.

Nearly a decade after the war, Lewis bought his property in Oxfordshire called the Kilns. When Paxford was hired, he spent many years preparing the grounds. He leveled the lawn in front of the house. He set out flowers and a Rose arbor. He established both an orchard and a vegetable garden. And he helped raise rabbits and chickens.

Lewis called Paxford, “our indispensable factotum” (A factotum is an employee who does all kinds of tasks.)

Meanwhile, Paxford always referred to Sinclair Lewis as "Mr. Jack." Here are a few of Paxford's memories about Lewis:

"Mr. Jack loved the trees and would not have a tree cut down or lopped. When we had to take some [branches] to make a rose trellis, we had to get them when he was away for a few days and cover up the cuts with mud so that they would not be seen."

Paxford lived in a little private Bungalow in the garden, and he stayed there for 33 years. When Lewis died, Paxford was only bequeathed 100 pounds. To which he replied, "Well, it won’t take me far, will it?"



#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of Candice Wheeler, who died on this day in 1923.

Candice Wheeler is often called "the mother of interior design." In addition to design, Wheeler loved gardening, and she helped create the artist community of Onteora.

Onteora was known for its unique homes and gardens. In its prime, it was a summer colony teaming with artists set in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

Wheeler’s garden was known as Wildmuir. Wildmuir had a beautiful lawn, specimen rhododendrons, laurels, and evergreen trees. In the 1920s, Wildmuir was updated by Harold Caparn, who designed the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

Like Martha Stewart, Candice Wheeler was multitalented. Her publishing credits include a variety of books, from How to Make Rugs to Content in a Garden.

Content in a Garden is partly an essay and partly a guide as to what can be grown in a small space. Wheeler wrote from her own experiences. In a 1923 newspaper advertisement for the book, the reviewer wrote that Candice Wheeler and her daughter, Dora Wheeler Keith,

"are thoroughly in sympathy with nature, of which the former writes as charmingly as the latter illustrates it."

And it was Candace Wheeler who said,

"One of the most perfect and unfailing joys of life is planting. It is the creative joy felt by God."



Unearthed Words

Today, we honor the poetry of Wendell Erdman Barry, an American author whose extraordinary nature poetry grew out of his experiences as a farmer.

Barry is responsible for so many beautiful quotes and poems. It was challenging to pick just a few. Here are some of my favorites:

"Eating is an agricultural act."

"Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup."

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”

“I don't believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and griever alike endure.”




Today's book recommendation: The Herb Garden Cookbook by Lucinda Hutson

Southern Living said this about Lucinda Hutson's book:

"Lucinda Hutson’s garden is something of a legend in Austin. An invitation from Lucinda, an authority on ethnic herbs and an accomplished cook, to sample a new dish or special punch in her flamboyant setting is a guaranteed fiesta. . . . And her gusto for entertaining and cooking is exemplified in her recipes [in] The Herb Garden Cookbook."

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with all the herbs growing in your garden, Hutson‘s book will be an inspiration for you.

This book was published back in 2003, but it is a classic. You can get used copies on Amazon using the link provided in today's show notes for under three dollars.




Today's Garden Chore

Now is the time to start pansy seed for fall color to your beds and containers and window boxes.

Pansies can handle colder temperatures. When your geraniums and begonias and other summer bloomers are starting to get leggy and spent, pansies are an excellent way to add a dash of color with their adorable little faces.

If you look closely at pansies, you’ll see that their petals are heart-shaped, and they overlap. Despite their sweet faces, pansies are tough. They will survive a frost. They can bounce back from single-digit temperatures (which I think is incredible).

And remember, pansies love morning sun the best - they're not thrilled with hot afternoon sun. They're too cool for that.

Just a heads up: Pansy seed can be finicky and slow going, so check out some YouTube videos for germination tips to ensure success.



Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

On this day in 1998, the province out of Vancouver, British Columbia, shared an article written by Peter Clough that caught my attention.

The title was called Hydrangea Fest Yanked by Roots and began with the sentence, "It’s a blooming shame."

Here’s what it said:

"Saturday was supposed to be the inaugural SurreyWhite Rock Hydrangea Blossom Festival.

For organizer Elaine Cramer, it was going to be the realization of a dream she's had for 15 years to bring a world-class floral parade to the Lower Mainland. Now it's not going to happen; not this year at least.

After months of planning, the parade has been canceled. [...]

Elaine is no novice when it comes to hydrangeas. She actually studied them at university. Her garden's home to several varieties.

[Elaine] says Surrey was equally enthusiastic. In fact, she says, it was Mayor Doug McCallum who convinced her that the best route through Surrey was 152nd Street. So she was a little shocked two weeks ago when she sat down before the city's special-events committee to be told by chairwoman Council Judy Higginbotham that her permit had been denied.

She's been working with Surrey officials for more than a year and only now does she learn of the problem.

Elaine and her 30 volunteers plan to give away more than 10,000 hydrangea bushes between now and October with next year's parade in mind. That's if she can get a permit."



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