At the cabin, a Mullein has seeded itself in one of my beds, and I’m letting it grow.
(I was touring gardens in Washington DC a few years ago, and the garden had a section for Mulleins. It was so pretty.)
On more than one occasion, I have had to rescue it - to make sure that no one in the family pulled it or weed-whacked it. Now, there it stands; 6 feet tall, big leaves, soft as lamb's ears, and the yellow florets are just starting to pop out from the flower spike.
If you look closely at Mulleins, they have these little fine hairs on the very soft leaves. The purpose of those little fine hairs is to trap moisture from the air; to help the plant survive - even when there’s no water around.
Inside the leaf and the flower of Mullein is a compound called mucilage. It’s a soothing property - a soothing slime - that protects tissue when it comes into contact with it. Herbalists use that mucilage to treat dry coughs; the mucilage reduces the acidity level in the esophagus, which helps stop the cough reflex.
Whenever I look at Mullein, I always think of Whitman’s charming thoughts on it:
"The farmers, I find, think the Mullein a mean unworthy weed. But, I have grown to a fondness for it. Every object has its lesson, enclosing the suggestion of everything else —and lately I sometimes think all is consecrated for me in these hardy, yellow flower'd weeds.
As I come down the lane early in the morning, I pause before their soft wool-like fleece and stem and broad leaves, glittering with countless diamonds.
Annually for three summers now, they and I have silently returned together; at such long intervals I stand or sit among them, musing [...] of my sane or sick spirit, here as near at peace as it can be."
#OTD On this day in 1745, Prince Charles Stuart plucked a white rose and placed it in his hat.
Charles got the nickname "Bonnie Prince Charlie." Some have speculated that the event sparked the significance of the Burnett rose - a white rose - because it became an important symbol of Scotland.
Here’s a little poem about the white rose from Hugh MacDiarmid:
The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland.
That smells sharp and sweet - and breaks the heart.
#OTD Today, in 1830, the first lawn Moore was invented by Edward Beard Budding.
Budding had adopted a machine that was used to remove the nap from wool.
Budding had been working part-time at a carpet mill, and he got the idea when he was working there, watching that machine with the wool.
Budding tested his machine at night, so that his neighbors wouldn’t be curious or make fun of him.
And, if you ever get the chance to go and see the Budding Museum of Gardening, it looks like a fun place to go. It shows mowers from all over the world. There’s also a pruning exhibit. The museum is in England. Cute little museum.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the botanist Jacob Weidenmann, who was born on this day in 1829 in Zürich, Switzerland.
Weidenmann was a landscape architect. He came to the United States in 1856. By 1861, he was named the first superintendent of parks for Hartford, Connecticut. When he was there, he designed the Bushnell Park in Cedar Hill cemetery.
By the 1870s, he was collaborating with Frederick Law Olmsted.
In 1871, Weidenmann published his very first book it was called Beautifying Country Homes. His work on the Cedar Hill Cemetery led him to write a book called Modern Cemeteries - where he talked about how to landscape memorial grounds.
After Weidenmann had finished designing in Hartford, he was asked to design the capitol grounds in Des Moines.
When Weidenmann died, he was buried in a quiet corner of the cemetery he had designed in Connecticut. Today, Harvard awards the Weidenmann prize to the student who shows outstanding ability in landscape design.
#OTD Today is National Eat a Peach Day.
Peaches are native to northwest China.
August is one of the months that peaches are harvested.
Thomas Jefferson had peaches growing at Monticello.
The scientific name for peaches is Persica. The name Persica derives from the belief that peaches were from Persia - but they were actually from China.
“In June we picked the clover,
And sea-shells in July:
There was no silence at the door,
No word from the sky.
A hand came out of August
And flicked his life away:
We had not time to bargain, mope,
Moralize, or pray.”
― Cecil Day-Lewis, Overtures to Death and Other Poems
This book is a favorite among women and female gardeners looking to utilize herbs for women’s health. Specifically, there are tons of great recipes in here and lots of useful information.
The book covers common disorders and the herbs that are effective for treating them. Gladstar shares how to select in-store herbs and then how to pair hundreds of herbal remedies.
I think what is especially helpful about this book is Rosemary‘s exclamation of the properties of herbs and then, not only how herbs are healing, but how they promote good health as well.
Rosemary is known as the godmother of modern herbalism.
Today's Garden Chore
Spruce up the ironwork in your garden.
The other day I was at a big box store looking for some pieces for my irrigation system when I remembered to pick up some cans of white spray paint for my ironwork. I bought it to refresh a set of table and chairs I bought from a friend. It’s incredible how good it all looks with a fresh coat of paint.
For other ironwork that I want to keep with a more natural look, I will just get some clear coat and use that.
And if you’re doing a lot of spray painting (like I was with the tables and chairs), it makes sense to buy one of those little spray grip accessories that attach to the top of your spray paint cans. They minimize finger fatigue. They are called spray grips or contour grips - and you can find them at your big box hardware stores. They’re usually sold right by the paint cans. They are totally worth the investment.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Here’s an interesting story that was shared in the Montclair Times in 1903.
An amateur botanist and his friend were passing by a florist, and they spied an elephant ear.
The botanist asked his friend, "Did you ever taste elephant ears?"
The companion said he never had.
The botanist answered this way:
"It’s a good thing for you - although it is an experience that will remain in your memory for a long time to come. I remember - oh, it seems like a hundred years back, yet the incident & fresh in my mind and as clear as crystal - when three boys were leaning across a wall looking at the plant in a garden. I was one of the boys - and the other two were telling me what a sweet taste elephant leaves had. [...] One of the boys put a piece in his mouth - at least he pretended to - and I agreed to chew some also.
Well, persimmons are as sugar compared to the drawing and bitterness of the elephant leaf. For half an hour after I had put the bit of leaf into my mouth, I drank enough water to float a ship."
If you want to eat elephant ears, it's their tuber that's edible. The leaves and the stem are the most toxic parts of the plant.
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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