August 9, 2019 Plant Surprises, Ludwig Winter, Walden, George Vasey, Helen Duranc, Bunny Melon, Richard Combe Miller, Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman, Black Lace Black Elder, Flame Tree, and San Francisco

Every now and then, plants can surprise you.

In this case, I’m talking about more than just a beautiful bloom or general survival. I’m talking about variations that could lead to exciting new varieties. This topic was covered in the newspaper out of Richmond, Indiana, on this day in 1938.

Here’s what it said:

"Black Hull Wheat - the wheat that increased production by millions of bushels in the Southwest - came from just one plant discovered in his wheat field by Earl Clark in Sedgwick county, Kans.

The Wayzata ever-bearing strawberry came from just one plant discovered in a patch of June-bearing strawberries in Hennepin county, Minn.

And, John Brown discovered an entirely new kind of watermelon - and a dandy - in his melon patch in White county, Illinois.

Keep your eyes open."




#OTD It was on this day that the German botanist and internationally-regarded landscape architect Ludwig Winter was born.

Winter taught Karl Forrester - of Karl Forrester grass fame - when he came to visit him in Italy.

Early on, Winter was drawn to exotic plants. When he began gardening in Italy, he experimented with them. Instead of letting them go crazy or turn into a jungle, Winter's tropical gardens were very controlled and created a scene.

Winter's reputation is inextricably bound to palm trees, and Palm Gardens became symbolic of the seaside resorts along the Italian Riviera. Ultimately, Winter’s contribution was making exotic plants accessible to all gardeners, not just to the wealthy.

Winter also created new concepts in the marketing of nurseries. Winter came up with the idea of using nurseries to exhibit plants permanently. This would help his clients imagine the end result of garden designs and to promote various schemes that could be replicated in the client's garden.

Winter's best gardens were created along the Italian Riviera - some exist still today.

When Monet saw the area, he wrote:

"Water, flowers, and poetry merge into a musical harmony of colors that my eyes have never met…. In addition, to paint certain landscapes you should have a palette of gems and diamonds. It is wonderful."



#OTD It was on this day in 1854 that two years of simple living near Walden Pond in Massachusetts was shared with the world in the form of a book; Henry David Thoreau's Walden was published.

It was Henry David Thoreau who said:

”The question is not what you look at, but what you see."

"Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw."



#OTD Today, in 1869, the explorer John Wesley Powell named an area of the Grand Canyon after his botanist George Vasey.

Known as Vasey’s Paradise, water spills out from the north rim of the Grand Canyon into the Colorado River. It’s a spectacularly, beautiful waterfall.

A year earlier, in 1868, during Powell‘s preliminary expedition, Vasey had accompanied him and collected a large number of plants. Vasey returned to Illinois, where he became the curator of the Illinois State University Natural History Museum and, ultimately, the chief botanist of the USDA.

Here’s what Powell wrote in his about Vasey's Paradise, on August 9, 1869:

"The river turns sharply to the east, and seems enclosed by a wall, set; with a million brilliant gems. What can it mean? Every eye is engaged, everyone wonders.

On coming nearer, we find fountains bursting from the rock, high overhead, and the spray in the sunshine forms the gems which bedeck the wall.

The rocks below the fountain are covered with mosses, and ferns, and many beautiful flowering plants.

We name it Vasey's Paradise, in honor of the botanist who traveled with us last year."




#OTD Today is the birthday of the Belgium botanical illustrator, Helen Durand, who was born on this day in 1883.

After taking classes in art and botany, Durand worked full-time in the garden of the Royal Belgian Institute.

Durand was meticulous and her work as an artist.

Once, she spent more than 105 hours drawing the cone of the Abies nobilis - commonly called the red fir, noble fir, or Christmas Tree.


#OTD Today is the birthday of Rachel Lowe Lambert Lloyd Mellon, also known as Bunny Mellon.

She got her nickname from a family nurse.

Bunny's earliest memory was shared in the preface in one of her books. Bunny wrote that she remembered,

"... being very small near a bed of tall, white, phlox in my godmothers garden. This towering forest of scent and white flowers was the beginning of ceaseless and trust, passion, and pleasure in gardens and books.“

Bunny’s greatest passion was garden design.

She became well known after designing the White House Rose garden. Bunny was a close friend of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

One of Bunny's first gardens was designed for Hattie Carnegie, who was a clothing designer. At the age of 23, Bunny created her garden and even planted it. In exchange, Carnegie gave her a coat and a dress from her salon.

A woman after my own heart, Bunny loved books, and she had a beautiful collection of rear garden books, manuscripts, and botanical prints.

In fact, Bunny credited her books for inspiring her designs. She said,

“my beginning, started with rare books on plants and garden plants, mostly French or Italian. They were like my Bibles.“

Unearthed Words

Fairest of months ! ripe Summer's Queen!
The hey-day of the year,
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen
Sweet August doth appear.

With rosy fruit her skirts are drest,
Flowers her glory swell,
And birthday wishes are most blest,
Breathed 'neath her potent spell.

- Richard Combe Miller



Today's book recommendation: Complete Illustrated Guide to the Holistic Herbal by David Hoffmann

This book offers advice on how to gather herbs and prepare remedies. It also includes a lovely reference in an A to Z format. For each herb, it tells how to grow, harvest, dry, store, and use each plant.

Beginners using herbs will appreciate the step-by-step instructions for making tinctures, decoctions, infusions, and other types of homemade medicines.




Today's Garden Chore

If you’re looking to add more shrubs to your garden, consider adding Black Lace Black Elder.

Black lace is a very versatile plant. It handles harsh conditions with ease.

When it flowers, it really goes overboard, and tt looks extra-fantastic against the finely cut foliage.

Each of the flowers has five stamens; the fragrance is lovely, and it’s extremely popular with pollinators.

Black Lace is perfect for growing in a hedge, and if you chop it back in spring to keep it more compact, you'll get even darker leaves - Bonus!



Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

Today in 1945, the Japanese arborist, Masayuki, propagated a new generation of flame trees from the mother tree.

The mother tree had survived the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

One of the trees is now located at the Glasgow botanic garden. It is planted at the entrance of the herb garden.

And also here’s some bonus sugar for you today:

Today in 1967, the song San Francisco, performed by Scott McKenzie, started a four-week run at the number one spot on the UK singles chart. It’s also referred to as the unofficial anthem of the counter culture movement of the 60s.

The song starts out with these lyrics:

"If you’re going to San Francisco be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

If you’re going to San Francisco you’re going to meet some gentle people there."


Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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