Well, the time we've waited for all year is here; it’s time to harvest tomatoes.
I want to give you just a quick word of caution when it comes to harvesting your tomatoes. As gardeners, sometimes we wait too long to harvest them. Sometimes that can be unintentional, and other times, we think that letting them stay on the vine is best.
However, if you wait too long, the tomatoes split.
This is especially true with heirloom tomatoes.
If you’re growing heirlooms it’s best to let them ripen in a cool, dark, place. Don’t be tempted to put them on a sunny window or countertop. They won't appreciate the view or the attention. Remember, heirloom tomatoes, are very fragile. The price for their fantastic flavor? Lots of TLC.
#OTD Today is the birthday of horticulturalist Frank Cabot who was born on this day in 1925.
It’s hard to believe that we lost Frank just eight years ago. He was a tremendous gardener and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his work in founding the nonprofit The Garden Conservancy.
Cabot lived until the age of 86 and he spent his life perfecting his 20-acre English-style garden and estate.
His masterpiece garden is known as Les Quatre Vents, or the Four Winds, and it’s been in his family for over 100 years.
There's a wonderful video of an interview that Martha Stewart did with Frank. He tells about the moon bridge being a copy of a moon bridge from Seven Star Park in China.
"I'm a great believer in plagiarizing. I think all gardeners are. There's no reason why one shouldn't plagiarize. Why not take someone else's good idea and adapted to one's site. This garden really represents that; it's just Ideas that were gleaned from other sources."
#OTD Today is the birthday of Andy Warhol who was born on this day in 1928
Warhol painted a series called Flowers that debuted in 1964.
This series of paintings was unique. Warhol found the original photo for it in a magazine called Modern Photography.
All the canvas Warhol used for the Flowers series was square. He only painted on 24 and 48 inch canvases. In these paintings, Warhol applied his masterful use of color; making the flowers much more vibrant against their background.
Although Warhol's Flowers have been compared to Van Gogh's bouquets and Matisse's Cutouts, it seemed no one could agree what kind of blooms were featured in the Flowers. The New York Herald Tribune identified the blossoms as anemones. The Village Voice said they were nasturtiums. Other publications said they were pansies.
There was no way to really tell. The series of prints showed the same flowers over and over again in different color combinations and backgrounds.
Warhol once said,
"My fascination with letting images repeat and repeat - manifests my belief that we spend much of our lives seeing without observing.“
Warhol's Flower series is considered a likely source for the phrase "flower power" which became an anthem for the non-violence movement. Whether or not that's true, Warhol's psychedelic flowers were totally in sync with the movement.
Warhols assistant once recalled,
“When Warhol... made flowers, it reflected the urban, dark, death side of that whole flower power movement... there is a lot of depth in there.”
Warhol's inclinations aligned with the 1960's flower children. He once wished aloud:
“I think everybody should like everybody.”
My favorite Andy Warhol quote is one that gardeners will identify with.
"I always notice flowers.”
#OTD On this day in 1954 that the botanist David Fairchild passed away. He was 85 years old.
In terms of accomplishments, Fairchild hit it out of the botanical park. He was single-handedly responsible for the introduction of more than 200,000 plants to the United States; including pistachios, mangoes, dates, nectarines, soybeans, and flowering cherries.
In conducting his work, Fairchild traveled around the globe numerous times.
Without David Fairchild; the Washington Mall would not have the beautiful Japanese flowering cherries. When that first shipment of cherry trees arrived in the United States, it was infested with insects and diseases. It was a blessing in disguise. Japan was so embarrassed by the shipment, that they immediately shipped new specimens. And, Japan sent experts to the States to make sure that the trees were taken care of properly.
And, plants like kale seem to be a relatively new phenomenon in gardens across the country. But, it was actually David Fairchild, and not Trader Joe's, who brought kale to the United States. And, David Fairchild brought the avocado here as well.
Looking back over Fairchild's life, it's clear he had a few lucky breaks that helped change the trajectory of his life. For instance, on his first collecting expedition, he met a world traveler and wealthy benefactor named Barbara Latham who funded Many of his adventures. And, in 1905 he married Mary Ann Bell; his father-in-law was none other than Alexander Graham Bell.
Finally, the next time you’re in Florida, stop by the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables which is filled with many of the plants that were collected by Fairchild and it's named in his honor.
We celebrate the birthday of Alfred Lord Tennyson who was born on this day in 1809.
Tennyson was the fourth of twelve children in his family and he became one of the most well loved Victorian poets.
Today, you can take a tour of Tennyson’s walled garden on the Isle of Wight. Both the home and the garden have been restored to their former glory and the property gets top ratings on TripAdvisor.
An 1895 newspaper shared this charming account of Tennyson's garden:
"Another orchard which I shall never forget is that which lives alongside Tennyson‘s Garden. It was only natural that one should recall the poets lines:
(From In Memoriam:)
"O sound to rout the brood of cares,
The sweep of scythe in morning dew,
The gust that round the garden flew,
And tumbled half the mellowing pears!"
(And, from Song of the Lotos-Eaters:)
"Lo! sweeten'd with the summer light,
The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow,
Drops in a silent autumn night."
And, here's Tennyson’s most quoted sentiment is a favorite among gardeners:
“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.“
Oh, to live in Victorian times; when the meaning of a flower had so many more possibilities than just, "I love you".
This book is a delight for the gardener who enjoys learning the difference between a red rose and a white one during this time in history. In addition to flowers, this book even shares the meanings of fruits and vegetables.
Many of the meanings are rooted in classical literature; in that regard, this book provides added insight across subjects.
If you want to keep growing, keep sowing.
Now is the time to sow more seeds - to grow more leafy greens like lettuce and arugula and spinach; and more vegetables that mature quickly like radish, and dill, and turnip.
This time of year, I like to reseed kale as well. There’s nothing like eating young kale shoots grown in the fall.
If you’re having a hot fall, don’t forget that you can cover your crops with reemay to protect them from the sun and help keep them cool.
There are so many wonderful resources out with advice on extending the growing season. Check out anything by Nikkie Jabbour and you’ll find yourself in excellent company.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
When I was researching Tennyson, I came across a story about a fan of his named Professor John Stewart Blackie. Blackie was a Scottish scholar known for his wit and kindness, as well as his flamboyance.
In 1864, in one of his letters, Blackie described what it was like meeting Tennyson:
" The poet (Tennyson) came downstairs from a hot bath which he had just been taking, quite in an easy unaffected style ; a certain slow - heaviness of motion belongs essentially to his character, and contrasts strikingly with the alert quickness and sinewy energy of Kingsley : head Jovian, eye dark, pale face, black flowing locks, like a Spanish ship-captain or a captain of Italian brigands something not at all common and not the least English. We dined, talked, and smoked together, and got on admirably."
Long after, in his old age, Miss Stoddart tells us, the Professor spoke of this visit with a reference very unusual to him in allusion to his contemporaries, and a few flowers gathered in Tennyson's garden were carefully pressed and affixed to his copy of his "in Memoriam".
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."