Today, August 14, is Saint Werenfrid's Day.
Werenfrid is the patron saint of vegetable gardens.
He is often portrayed as a priest holding up a ship with a coffin in it or displayed as a priest laid to rest in his ship.
Werenfrid is also invoked for gout and stiff joints, which, if you’re a vegetable gardener, those three sometimes go together.
#OTD Today, in 1765, a crowd gathered under a large elm tree in Boston.
The group was there to protest the Stamp Act that was passed by the British Parliament.
The act imposed a tax on paper in the American colonies, which meant that all the paper had to have a stamp on it. So, if you were publishing a newspaper, or needed a mortgage deed, or court papers, it all had to be printed on paper with a tax stamp on it.
There was an elm tree that became a rallying point for resistance against the British, and that tree became known as the Liberty Tree.
The tree had been planted in 1646 - just sixteen years after Boston became a city. As the colonists began rejecting orders from Britain, the tree became a bulletin board of sorts. As it's symbolism grew, protesters would share calls to action on the trunk.
When the stamp act was repealed, the tree was THE place people went to celebrate; hanging flags and streamers, as well as lanterns from its branches.
After the war began, Thomas Paine wrote an ode to the Liberty Tree in the Pennsylvania Gazette.
"Unmindful of names or distinctions they came
For freemen like brothers agree,
With one spirit endued, they one friendship pursued,
And their temple was Liberty Tree…"
Four months later, in August, British troops and Loyalists descended on the tree. A man named Nathaniel Coffin Jr. cut it down.
#OTD On this day in 1873, the magazine Forest and Stream debuted.
Forest and Streamfeatured outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. It was dedicated to wildlife conservation, and it helped launch the National Audubon Society.
In 1930, the magazine merged with Field & Stream.
#OTD Today, in 1880 for the botanist Ada Hayden was born.
Hayden was the curator of the Iowa State University herbarium.
As a young girl growing up in Ames, Iowa, she fell in love with the flora surrounding her family’s home. Hayden was a talented photographer, artist, and writer, and she put all of those skills to good use documenting Iowa’s prairies.
Hayden became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from Iowa State.
She inherited her grandparent's farm, and she often brought her botany students there to walk through the Prairie and to take notes on their observations.
Hayden’s life work was to save the vanishing prairie ecosystem.
Hayden loved the Prairie. She wrote,
"Throughout the season, from April to October, the colorful flowers of the grassland flora present a rainbow-hued sequence of bloom. It is identified with the open sky. It is the unprotected battleground of wind and weather.
When Dr. Hayden died, the University named a 240-acre-tract of virgin Prairie, Hayden Prairie, in her honor.
#OTD On this day, in 1960, FTD had its 50th-anniversary convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit.
And there’s a lovely video of the convention that’s available to see on YouTube. I shared it in The Daily Gardener Community Facebook Group, or you can see a link to it in today's show notes.
The video was prepared for those members who could not attend. It is utterly charming.
You get to see 50's fashions. You get to see a revolving floral stage. It was a three-day-long extravaganza in Detroit - it's just so fun to watch.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist Edgar Walter Denison, who was an expert on Missouri’s wildflowers.
Denison died in Missouri on this day in 1993. Tennyson had emigrated to the country from Stuttgart, Germany In 1927. He left behind much of his extended family, including a famously brilliant cousin named Albert Einstein.
Denison's book, Missouri Wildflowershas, sold nearly 100,000 copies since its first printing in 1962. Denison illustrated the book as well. One of the reasons the book was so popular is because of the way the book is organized. It especially appeals to gardeners; It’s organized by color and within colors by the month of blossom. As a result, gardeners can find a species quickly and with ease.
Denison had an amazing personal garden. He had over 1,000 varieties of plants that he grew from seed; he hated the thought of removing a plant from its native habitat.
Denison had a special relationship with the Missouri Botanical Garden. The garden's director, Peter Raven, said,
“An old-fashioned European gentleman in many ways, Edgar Denison, exceeded most of our citizens in his deep love for the plants that enrich and beautify Missouri .“
Denison's former next-door neighbor, horticulturist Patrick Brockmeyer, said Denison told him everything he knew about plants, including pruning, fertilizing, weed control naturally; he was a naturalist. Brockmeyer felt Denison's presence when he visited the garden. He said,
“He was there. I don’t care what anyone says, that man was in that garden. I could tell by the way the birds were singing.“
"How sociable the garden was.
We ate and talked in given light.
The children put their toys to grass
All the warm wakeful August night."
- Thomas Gunn, Last Days at Teddington
It’s hard to believe, but in the 1630s, the tulip trade was a big deal.
Tulip bulbs changed hands for incredible amounts of money. At one point, flowers were being sold for more than the cost of a home. This was truly Tulipomania, and as the book shares, it was the first futures market in history.
The book documents the ancestry of the tulip. From their origins in Asia, migrating west to Turkey, and then to Antwerp, where a man working on the docks, sees a stray bulb on the ground, picks it up, takes it home, and ate it - thinking it was an onion.
Dash is an excellent writer. The book is a delightful read.
Today's Garden Chore
Line the bottom of your pots with burlap or a coffee filter.
This way water will drain, but you don’t have to worry about soil leaking out.
If you use burlap, you could cut a piece that’s big enough to extend from the lip of the pot down to the bottom of the hole and then back up again.
I love to see little hints of burlap lining the inside of my pots. It adds an extra layer of texture and dimension - and I think it’s quite charming, especially if you’re giving the plant as a gift. So, one of the chores my student gardeners help me with is cutting a swath of burlap and then lining the terra-cotta pots in the garden.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Today in 1975, The Hearne Democrat, out of Hearne, Texas, announced there was a canning lid shortage.
Here’s what it said:
"The problem has reached crisis proportions in parts of the country where home gardeners have planted crops in hopes of saving on grocery bills. As harvest begins, these home gardeners are discovering the canning lid shortage means there is no way of preserving their ripe fruits and vegetables for fall and winter use...
Part of the cause is the tremendous increase in the number of home gardeners. The federal office of Consumer Affairs estimates that 12 million new gardeners have joined the market for home canning equipment in the past two years...
Another part of the problem is that, in addition to the greatly increased number of gardeners who need lids, some home canners have been buying far more lids than they will need. Because of this hoarding for future use, the shortage has been aggravated."
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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