How do you start adding living mulch to your garden?
One of the simplest ways is just to look for the spots in your garden that are bare.
Look for the open areas and start there.
Look under your shrubs.
Look along the edges of your beds.
Instead of adding another layer of mulch, add plants.
Think about planting these living mulches in terms of plant families, or planting en masse. This is what the naturalists and ecologists do naturally; They think about plants in terms of population.
New gardeners tend to think of A PLANT and not A PLANTING, so think bigger. Think community. Think about the way you see plants occurring naturally.
Even the weeds tend to show up with their brothers and sisters. If one finds purchase, they send out an Evite. The next thing you know, there’s a family reunion of Canadian Thistle or Creeping Charlie, and you get to be the host.
With this in mind, it’s right about this time of year, that I remind myself how much I like the giant allium. And, how I fervently wish I would’ve planted that allium as a member of a very, very, very large extended family; the Everybody Loves Raymond kind of family because one can never have enough allium.
#OTD Today is St. Bernard Tolomeo's Day, the Patron Saint of Olive Growers.
Saint Bernard was from Tuscany, and he was born there in 1272.
He was going to be a lawyer, but then he pursued the church after he recovered his eyesight after an illness. He'd made a deal with God.
He chose the name Bernard after the habit of Clairvaux - we mentioned him yesterday - he is the patron saint of bees and beekeepers.
Bernard became the patron Saint of Olives because the Abbey, where Tolomeo lived, St Mary of Olivet, was the site of an olive plantation. The location became known as Mount Olivet.
Here are some here are a few quick fun facts about Olives:
Olives are a fruit and not a vegetable.
The first olive harvest occurs after 15 years of growing. The next time you’re feeling impatient, remember the olive.
Olive trees are some of the oldest live plants on earth. They’re considered evergreens.
One of the oldest all of trees is on the island of Crete is an Olive, and it’s estimated to be about 4,000 years old, and it is still producing fruit.
Finally, the color of the fruit is completely dependent on the maturity – unripe fruit is green, and the ripe is dark purple to black (like tomatoes and peppers).
#OTD It was on this day that the botanist George Taylor died in 1891.
Taylor had immigrated from Scotland at the age of 53. He brought his family to the United States, and they settled in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1855. Taylor's brothers were already there, so it was an easy decision.
Once he got settled, George became known as "Celery" after he started growing celery commercially. Kalamazoo had what was called "muckland," which was "valueless for anything other than growing to celery." Once, when a botanist visited the area, he said that the land was black muckland of a peaty nature, which is best for celery.
In Kalamazoo, there is a little plaque dedicated to George Celery Taylor.
Thanks to Taylor, Kalamazoo became known as the Celery City or Celeryville
In 1880, the Detroit Free Press shared an article that talked about the celery beds that were growing. It said this:
"Driving north from Kalamazoo, through the country, one passes great 100-acre farms devoted to the sweet-scented celery, reminding one of that Methodist hymn:
'Sweet fields beyond stand dressed in living green.'
One would never forget a drive through the celery gardens in any direction from Kalamazoo; the long rows keeping their bright green till November, as crop follows crop; and the fields being unmarred by fences or anything except the cozy cottages of the thrifty Hollanders."
And there was a fun little article that was posted in The Herald Press out of St Joseph Michigan in 1956. It talked about the early days of celery growing, and it had an adorable story about George Celery Taylor:
"In the fall of 1856, there was a big party that was going to be held at the Burdock House Hotel on December 19. It was going to be a big gathering with lots of people from all over and Mr. Taylor thought it would be a good opportunity to advertise celery. As the unknown vegetable, [Taylor] persuaded the owner of the hotel to put celery on his menu and the people were curious about it. They asked, "how do you eat this?" "Is it grown from seed?" It just grew in popularity from there."
In the 1870s, the celery growers would have children sell it on the street, which created a demand for celery. They also met all of the trains that came into town. They would give it to the conductors on the New York trains and asked them to take a bunch. The next thing you know, the market for celery was off to the races.
#OTD It was on this day that the botanist and German poet Adelbert van Chamiso died.
When he was 30, Chamiso ended up in Switzerland, where he decided to devote himself to botanical research.
In 1815, he was appointed the botanist for a Russian expedition. He collected on the Cape of Good Hope. He ended up in the San Francisco Bay area, and he wrote about the California poppy, which he named Eschscholzia californica after his friend Johanns Friedrich Von Eschscholzia.
In return, Eschscholz named a bunch of plants after him - a little quid pro quo.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of Dorothy Adlington Cadbury, who died on this day in 1987.
As a botanist, Dorothy was an expert on pond weeds.
Dorothy was also a Quaker, and she was devout her entire life through.
In 1937, she joined the Wildflower Society, and every year she would write down records, taking notes on the landscape her. Then, she’d send them to the Society as soon as the first signs of life happened in her garden and in the world around her. Sometimes when spring came early, she sent the records as early as the first week of March.
Dorothy was also a business person. She was the director of Cadbury, the world's second-largest candy company.
#OTD On this day in 2005, we lost the botanist Mary Bowerman, who was the co-author of The Flowering Plants and Ferns of Mount Diablo, California.
Bowerman was responsible for the preservation of thousands of acres of Mount Diablo before she died at the age of 97.
Bowerman was the last person to record the Mount Diablo buckwheat until it was re-discovered, after 70 years, in 2005.
She was clearly an expert on the flora of Mount Diablo; she spent over 75 years studying it. Her doctoral advisor was none other than Willis Linn Jepson - the Botany Man. Bowerman was his last surviving student when she died. She wrote once,
“Little did I know, 65 years ago, that my senior project would become my life‘s work.“
Bowerman worked tirelessly toward her dream,
“that the whole of Mount Diablo including its foothills should remain open space and that the visual and natural integrity will be sustained.“
She got her wish.
"August creates as she slumbers, replete, and satisfied."
- Joseph Wood Krutch
"The brilliant poppy flaunts her head
Amidst the ripening grain,
And adds her voice to sell the song
That August's here again."
- Helen Winslow
This is such a good book. You get to learn how to make your own herbal remedies - and Gladstar makes it so easy. She’s been training herbalists for 25 years at her Sage Mountain Retreat Center in Vermont.
This is an excellent guide for figuring out some herb basics and their practical uses from one of the best herbalists in America.
Today's Garden Chore
Try planting Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis.
If you have a wet spot in your garden, Cardinal Flower could be perfect for that spot. Cardinal Flower doesn't have to be red. The easy-care native perennial can sends up spikes of white or pink (in addition to red), from midsummer to fall.
Cardinal flower grows in zone 3 - 9. The plants grow 2-4 feet tall. Cardinal Flower is also a major pollinator plant; the birds love it, the butterflies love it, and even hummingbirds love it. And bonus: it's also deer and rabbit resistant. It grows well in sun or part shade.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Finally, here’s a little post from a columnist named Ruth Oren, out of a newspaper in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in 1966.
I read it, and I thought you would enjoy it. It's a little reminder about not overdoing it in the fall:
"Midsummer is the time to enjoy a "no-gardening" garden. If you find yourself up to your ears in gardening chores, something is wrong.
This pause in mid-summer is necessary for humans as well as plants. What's the point of creating a lovely garden and never having the time to enjoy it?
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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