August 15, 2019 Garden Turmoil, Karl von Schreibers, Elias Magnus Friesz, John Torrey, Walter Crane, Geoff Hamilton, W.H. Auden, The Gardens of Emily Dickinson by Judith Farr, Pickerel Weed, and Sylvia Edlund

Last week was one of turmoil in my garden.

We decided to put new windows and siding on the house.

Then we decided to enjoy the ravages of a hail storm which dumped ping pong ball sized hail on the garden for about five minutes - the entire storm lasted 30 minutes.

I always remind new gardeners that we never garden alone. We’re still gardening and partnership with Mother Nature, and in this partnership, Mother Nature still has her way. Sometimes we may feel like we win, but I kind of think it’s like the first time you play Go Fish or some other game with your child, they just THINK they won.

In any case, I am using this as an opportunity to address some crowding in my garden beds. In some places, everything is just gone, and I suppose I could see it as an early start on fall cleanup.

The one thing I’m grateful for is the replacement of this large 14 x 20‘ Arbor on the side of our house. I had started growing several rows of it over the years and then settled on golden hops when I was going through my hops phase.

Over the past few years, I’ve decided I’m not a fan of hops. The vines are aggressive and sticky, and the sap can be irritating to the skin. And I wasn’t a massive fan of the color.

My student gardeners will help me cover the area with some landscape fabric to make sure it does not come back, and then I think climbing hydrangea would be lovely.




#OTD Today is the birthday of Karl Franz Anton Ritter von Schreibers.


Schreibers was an Austrian naturalist and a botanist. In 1806, Schreibers became the director of the Vienna Natural History Museum. He was an excellent botanist and ecologist, but his heart belongs to minerals and meteorites.


Schreibers made Leopold Trattinick a curator of the museum herbarium, which was founded in 1807. The Austrian Empire had a thing for plants and horticulture. So expeditions were sent to collect new materials, including minerals for the museum.


Many famous botanists were involved with these expeditions, including Carl Phillip Von Martinus.


In 1848, during the revolution, the museum caught on fire. The protesters not only destroyed the library Schreibers had carefully built up, but they also destroyed Schreiber's home - his living quarters or right inside the museum. It broke Schreiber's heart. He retired and died four years later.




#OTD Happy birthday to Elias Magnus Friesz, who is born on this day in 1794 in Sweden.

The area where Friesz grew up was rich in fungi, and his father was a self-taught botanist. Put the two together, and it’s no wonder Friesz developed a lifelong interest in mycology.

In fact, Friesz developed the first system that was used to classify fungi, so we remember him for that.

There’s a wonderful picture of Elias as an octogenarian. He looks like he could’ve been Dumbledore’s best friend.

He was a happy botanist, and he worked tirelessly until the day he died in February 1878.




#OTD Happy birthday to John Torrey, who is born on this day in 1796.

Torrey was the first American botanist to study the flora of New York State.

The area Torrey botanized included what is now Greenwich Village, the area of the Elgin botanic garden, which is now Rockefeller Center, and Bloomingdale, which is now the upper side west side of Manhattan, as well as Hoboken New Jersey.

Torrey's Calendarian was a phenological record where he documented the plants he observed - recording the species, location, and date of first bloom.

Farmers often kept similar records to track planting seasons and growing cycles.

Thomas Jefferson did the same thing in a book he called The Calendar.

The New York botanic garden has digitized this manuscript so you can check it out when you get a chance.

And, if you live in Colorado, it might interest you to know that Torrey's peak in Colorado is named for John Torrey.

#OTD It's the birthday of the illustrator Walter Crane, born in Liverpool #OnThisDay in 1845.

Gardeners appreciate Crane thanks to one of his most stunning works - a book called "A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden," which was published in 1899.

Crane's book was intended to be a children's book - but for gardeners, it is really something of a graphic novel telling the story of the secret life and society of flowers.

The flowers are personified. For example, the Dandelion is portrayed as a bold knight - his shield is made of a large dandelion blossom. And, the Foxgloves are a happy group; comprised of cousins and brothers and sisters.

The book continues to appeal thanks to Crane's beautiful artwork and the allure of the enchanted realm he created, complete with Fairies, the Four Seasons, Old Man Time, knights, and other creatures.

There are 46 illustrations in this little book. Original copies of this rare book sell for over $1,000. You can view the entire book for FREE using this link in today's show notes.




#OTD Today, we remember Geoff Hamilton, who was born on this day in 1936.

Hamilton was a presenter of the BBC’s Gardener's World in the 1980s and 1990s he was also a gardener himself.

Hamilton had a twin brother, and as a young kid, he became interested in horticulture by working in his family’s garden. One of his first jobs was helping out at a local nursery down the road from his house.

He became the editor for Practical Gardening Magazine, and then he moved into television. He was the longest-serving presenter on a Gardener's World.

In his Wikipedia entry, it says that many in the garden world were puzzled by the fact that Hamilton never received any recognition from the Royal Horticultural Society for his work.

Hamilton‘s personal garden at Barnsdale consists of 38 themed gardens over 8 acres, and it remains open to the public. It is run by his son, who also gardens and is a writer.



Unearthed Words


As I listened from a beach-chair in the shade
To all the noises that my garden made,
It seemed to me only proper that words
Should be withheld from vegetables and birds.

A robin with no Christian name ran through
The Robin-Anthem which was all it knew,
And rustling flowers for some third party waited
To say which pairs, if any, should get mated.

Not one of them was capable of lying,
There was not one which knew that it was dying
Or could have with a rhythm or a rhyme
Assumed responsibility for time.

Let them leave language to their lonely betters
Who count some days and long for certain letters;
We, too, make noises when we laugh or weep:
Words are for those with promises to keep.

by W.H. Auden - Their Lonely Betters




Today's book recommendation: The Gardens of Emily Dickinson by Judith Farr

Farr's book helps us understand the poet's relationship with specific flowers.

It also helps us understand some of the floral symbolism that Dickinson uses in her poems, which Dickinson herself called "Blossoms of the Brain." Without this information, it can be challenging to understand.

Gardening was a considerable part of Dickinson‘s life.

Jasmine was on her list of favorite flowers. It was third, next to dearest Daphne, and except for wildflowers, which Dickinson considered dearest of all.



Today's Garden Chore

Plant Pickerel Weed.

If you have a pond or need a water plant for a trough or such on your property, consider planting Pickerel Weed.

The foliage looks excellent, and it blossoms for six months, depending on where you live. In winter, it dies back completely.

Think of Pickerel Weed like a mint; if you don’t want it to spread, grow it in containers and place the pots at the water’s edge.

Pickerelweed is a hit with butterflies and other pollinators because of its lovely purple blossom. It grows well in Zones 3-10.




Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart


Today is the day that the botanist Sylvia Edlund was born in Pittsburgh.

She earned a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Chicago

Edlund was sickly as a child. She was often confined to her bed. She said that she took up botany because she thought she shouldn’t study anything she’d have to chase

She worked for the United Nations, assembling an inventory of plants and animals in the far north. She worked for the geological survey of Canada for 20 years but was forced to retire in 1994 after an inflamed appendix went undiagnosed and ended up affecting her short term memory.

Edlund died in British Columbia in 2014 at the age of 69. Her colleague, Fenja Brodo, wrote a tribute to her in The Ottawa Citizen that was especially touching. She wrote,

"It was not easy for her being the lone botanist, and a female at that, working in a predominantly male environment. Sylvia met the challenge and became an internationally recognized leader in plant distribution patterns in the Arctic. She showed that ground ice melt was the water source for the unexpectedly lush green valleys in parts of the High Arctic and demonstrated how climate, substrate, and geomorphic processes influence what can grow where.

Sylvia was always an artist, with pen, paints and fabrics. She wrote and illustrated (water colours) a booklet on Common Arctic Wildflowers of the Northwest Territories for schoolchildren of the north.

Each Christmas, she made another set of delightful felt animal ornaments, which she presented to friends. (For two years, her creations adorned the tree at the Canadian Museum of Nature.)"

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

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