August 23, 2019 Cutting Back the Garden, the Patron Saint of Gardeners, Alexander Wilson, Eliza Sullivant, Hazel Schmoll, Rose Kingsley, The Prickly Pear Cookbook by Carolyn Niethammer, Spring Plant Swap Prep, and the 1942 Michigan Botanical Club Meeting
Sometimes I think cutting your bangs is a great analogy for pruning in the garden.
You know how when your bangs are growing out - maybe a little past your eyebrows - and you think, "I am gonna grow these bangs out. I’m gonna have amazing hair." Then, they start to go past your nose, and you realize that this was a complete mistake. Then, you don’t have the stamina to make it all the way to having no bangs, and it’s time to get this crazy idea back in check.
Sometimes, the same thing happens with the flowers that are spilling into your paths and walkways.
Today, the student gardeners and I clipped back the catmint that of been allowed to go wherever it wanted - in addition to the sumac and artemisia.
Sometimes, even though it requires extra courage, it’s necessary to prune things back. When it’s done, your garden looks a little lighter, a little more put together, and everybody seems happier that work was done. The garden feels brand new and ready to show off a new haircut to the world.
#OTD Today is the day that Catholics celebrate the patron of gardeners and flowers - it’s at Saint Rose of Lima day.
Saint Rose worked to serve the poor. She was a Dominican.
There was a malaria epidemic during the 1600s, and Saint Rose worked on healing the sick, and in some cases, she did.
Saint Rose was the first saint born in the Americas.
When she was born, her parents named her Ysabelle, but she became known as a Rose. One time, when she was sleeping in her cradle, her mother saw the figure of a rose on the side of her cheek, and she started calling her Rose.
She was also called Rose because of her beauty.
Sadly, Rose died in 1617; she was just 31 years old.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the Scottish ornithologist and poet Alexander Wilson.
Wilson immigrated to the United States from Paisley Scotland. His family called him Sandy.
He quickly became one of the foremost naturalists of his time. Before John James Audubon, there was Alexander Wilson - who was born the 20 years before Audubon.
Wilson is known as the father of American ornithology.
Wilson wrote the very first ornithology of American birds. When Wilson completed his publication, which he had prepared in nine volumes, it was sold for an exorbitant price: $120. Even John James Audubon passed on owning a copy for that sky-high price.
Wilson ended up living at Gray’s Ferry, where he took charge of a school founded by John Bartram.
Right down the street, lived William Bartram, of all people. Bartram operated his nursery called Bartram Botanical Gardens, and he became a mentor for Wilson. Bartrum was the best kind of mentor, encouraging and honoring Wilson's unique talents and interests. It was William Bartram who helped Wilson learn to draw birds.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of Eliza Sullivant.
Her husband had taught her about botany and other subjects. When she died in 1850, her husband William Starling Sullivant praised her drawings of mosses.
Eliza was his second wife. His first wife died following the birth of their child.
Sullivant fell in love with Eliza about the same time he fell in love with botany.
The Sullivants lived in a gorgeous Italianate home that they called Sullivant Hill. There was a large pasture there, and Sullivant would get up early in the morning and walk through it, identifying the flowering plants, grasses, and sedges.
He got curiouser and curiouser about botany. Before you know it, he was corresponding with Dr. Asa Gray from Harvard and Dr. John Torrey from Princeton.
Once when Sullivan was botanizing in Highland county, Ohio. He ran across a little plant with tiny delicate white flowers and ornate leaves. He sent it to Gray and Torrey. They, in turn, named it Sullivantii ohioensis.
Sullivant’s herbarium, which had nearly 10,000 specimens, was donated to Harvard through Dr. Asa Gray.
#OTD Today is the birthday of Hazel Marguerite Schmoll, who was born in McAlester, Kansas, on this day in 1890.
Schmoll was born in a sod cabin. Her family settled in Colorado when she was just two years old.
Schmoll was the first woman to earn a doctorate in botany from the University of Chicago.
Schmoll had the opportunity, early on in her career, to work with Alice Eastwood. She mostly mounted and catalog specimens.
It was Hazel Schmoll who said,
"I hope we can keep some wilderness areas. People need some places where they can get away from the crowds and be refreshed by nature."
"In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil.
And at no season, safe perhaps in Daffodil time, do we get such superb color effects as from August to November."
- Rose G. Kingsley, The Autumn Garden, 1905
Today's book recommendation: The Prickly Pear Cookbook by Carolyn Niethammer
I remember the first time I grew Prickly Pear Cactus in my garden, and I fell immediately in love with it.
This charming cookbook celebrates the Prickly Pear Cactus. The spines of the plant actually protect it from being eaten. Fortunately, we’ve found a way around that. The cookbook contains 60 recipes for using the fruit of the cactus, in addition to the pads – all of which are edible and all of which are nutritious. And Niethammer teaches that it is increasingly included in the treatment of diabetes. Niethammer is a wild food expert and a master cook.
Today's Garden Chore
Now it’s a fantastic time to start thinking about spring plant swaps.
Here’s a little garden hack you can try to make your spring rush a little easier. Take your divisions now and pot them up in soil with a substantial amount of perlite. And then dig the pots into the ground. They’ll be thrilled to overwinter there, and they’ll look fabulous in the spring.
Then, when everyone is going bananas the day or two before the plant swap, you can go and grab a coffee and then pat yourself on the back for making great use of your fall divisions.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Today in 1942, the Michigan Botanical Club summer meeting was held at the University of Michigan Biological Station at Douglas lake.
It was a three-day meeting lasting through August 26, and it was held in conjunction with the Sullivant Moss Society, named in honor of William Starling Sullivant mentioned earlier in today’s episode. Happy coincidence.
During the meeting, there were daily field trips and evening discussions about mosses and lichens and liver warts.
This focus on mosses was something new to the members of the Wildflower Association who were in attendance. The records show that,
"they were apparently amazed and delighted at having found an entirely new world of nature."
It was reported that one of their members, Fred Case, Jr, had been stricken with polio and couldn’t attend the meeting. So, the members put together a dish garden containing: a seedling pitcher plant, a one-inch tall cedar, 25 or 30 mosses, and other woodland plants.
Fred was just 15 years old, and he had already written a treaty called Orchids of the Western Great Lakes Region, which he had dedicated to the botanist Marjorie T. Bingham, who was his teacher and friend.
Fred had organized all of the members of the first junior chapter of the Michigan Wildflower Association in Saginaw. The group was really his Boy Scout Troop. They had started up wildflower sanctuary in his dad’s place. But, all of the junior members entered the armed services during World War II... except for Fred -thanks to his polio diagnosis. When the men returned from the war, they went on with their lives, and the junior chapter of the Saginaw Wildflower Association closed.
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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