If your garden looks a little sad right now, it could probably benefit from the addition of some no-fail fantastic fall perennials.
Here are some of my favorites:
If you have a sunny, wet area, Joe-Pye weed is a perfect choice. The blooms are super tall and a favorite with pollinators. The Latin name is Eutrochium purpureum.
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Hylotelephium telephium) is fantastic this time of year. It's super easy to propagate as well - in the spring when it starts to grow, I'll give it a hair cut and then simply place the clippings together in the well-drained area in the garden and voila! A new Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is born. It's just that easy to propagate them. Up at the cabin, I have three new autumn joys thanks to the haircuts I gave the parent plants in mid-June.
Asters are glorious right now. You can grow them from seed or from transplants. If your asters are tall and leggy, make a note to give them a few haircuts during June. I'll keep mine cut back to about a foot tall until the 4th of July, and then I'll let them be. As with Joe-Pye and Autumn Joy, the Chelsea Chops keep my asters more compact - the way I prefer them this time of year. The Latin name for New England asters is Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (they were moved into their own genus)
Finally, sweet autumn clematis - Clematis terniflora is in its glory in the garden right now. Throughout the spring and the summer, I'm not very nice to the young vines. They can act a bit thuggish, and I rip out everything I find during May and June. The vines that make it in the fall are the lucky ones - benefitting from my absences in the garden during the summer, weeks when I was too busy or away for travel. While I was gone, the remaining vines made big enough strides to earn the right to stay through to fall. The beautiful blooms give me pause for the way I treated them in the spring, yet I know my garden would be overrun if I didn't at least attempt to thwart it in the spring.
#OTD Today is the birthday of Stephen McCormick, who was born on this day in 1784.
McCormick was from Auburn, Virginia, and he patented a cast-iron plow with replaceable parts.
Inventing equipment for agriculture was something of a family activity; his cousin of was Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the famous reaper.
The concept of removable, replaceable parts created the need for factories to build them. Farmers liked the idea of only needing to buy the parts they needed; instead of purchasing an entirely new plow.
In a little over a decade, McCormick had sold more than 10,00 plows.
#OTD Today is the birthday of Edward Beard Budding, who was born On this day in 1796.
Budding had been working part-time at a carpet mill.
During his shift, he watched a machine remove the nap from wool.
It gave him an idea. Inspired by the machine from the carpet mill and working mostly at night, Budding adopted the device into what became the world's first push lawnmower. Budding even tested his machine at night - to avoid the curiosity of his neighbors and also to make sure they wouldn't make fun of him.
In South Downs in West Sussex, England, there is the Budding Museum of Gardening, which features some of the very first lawnmowers preserved and researched by an ex-bank manager named Clive Gravett. In addition to the museum made up of Gravett's vast collection of mowers spanning the past 150 years, Gravett created a charity dedicated to Budding.
A year ago, Gravett wrote a book called Two Men Went to Mow: The Obsession, Impact, and History of Lawn Mowing. In it, Gravett tells the full story of this the lawnmower and its impact on the world. A passionate gardener with a love of history, Gravett has helped to preserve Budding's legacy. There's just one piece of Budding's legacy that has remained elusive: one of his original lawnmowers. Gravett suspects they ended up being used as scrap during the first and second World Wars.
#OTD Today, in 1959, the state flower of Alabama was changed to the camellia.
The women of Butler County had decided the camellia was a better choice than the goldenrod, which they considered a weed and which had been officially adapted back in 1927.
Twenty years ago, Alabama decided to get more specific, naming the Camellia japonica L. the official state flower - to avoid confusion with the many other types of camellia. The Camellia japonica is sometimes called "the rose of winter."
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan - a prominent English botanist and mycologist. She died in 1967.
Early on, Gwynn-Vaughan researched rust fungi. But she also helped form the University of London's Suffrage Society - where she was the first female professor. During #WWI, she also helped form the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. Due to her extraordinary wartime leadership, Gwynne-Vaughan was one of the first women to receive a Military Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award.
The University of London recently released a lovely article about Gywnne-Vaughan called "Fungi and the Forces," which revealed that Gwynne-Vaughan was as accomplished in the armed forces as she was in the theater of fungi. In fact, a handful of fungi are named for her - like Palaeoendogone gwynne-vaughaniae and Pleurage gwynne-vaughaniae.
“August was nearly over - the month of apples and falling stars, the last care-free month for the school children. The days were not hot, but sunny and limpidly clear - the first sign of advancing autumn.”
― Victor Nekrasov, author
Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, sparked the modern environmental movement.
Author Linda Lear, wrote her biography, in Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature - which came out in 2009.
The book has been praised for Lear's exhaustive research and for portraying the human side of Rachel Carson's too short life.
Here's a fun fact: Lear also wrote an excellent biography of Beatrix Potter.
You can get used copies for around $4 using the Amazon Link in today's show notes.
Today's Garden Chore
Add the peony Sarah Bernhardt to your "must-have" plant list for 2020 and find a spot for her this fall.
The Sarah Bernhardt peony has been around since 1906 - so she's already over 100 years old. She may be an antique, but she is truly as wonderful today as she was when she was named for a French actress who was enormously popular in the early 1900's - Sarah Bernhardt. She once played the role of Queen Elizabeth.
The Sarah Bernhardt peony was introduced by the world's top peony breeder - a Frenchman - named Victor Lemoine.
When you look up Sarah Bernhardt peony, here are the words used to describe her:
double-flowered, gorgeous, very large, frilly blooms, apple blossom pink, romantically fragrant, super large, etc.
Here are a few fun facts about Sarah Bernhardt:
Of the 50 million cut peony flowers sold each year from the Netherlands, 20 million are Sarah Bernhardt. Florists love Sarah B's.
And Sarah Bernhardt was selected as the 2004 Dried Cut Flower of the Year by the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
The biologist Helen Sharsmith was born today in 1905.
A native Californian, Sharsmith, and her husband both received their doctorates from the University of California, Berkeley.
Sharsmith's dissertation on the Flora of the Mount Hamilton Range of California was published as a book in 1945. Twenty years later, she wrote another book called Spring Wildflowers of the San Francisco Bay Region (1965).
Her husband named a stickseed after her called Hackelia Sharsmithii. It's a pretty little endangered herb in the borage family.
Hackelia sharsmithii is a species of flowering plant in the borage family known by the common name Sharsmith's stickseed.
Adorably, the Sharsmiths had two children - a rich man's family - a boy and a girl.
The boy was named John, after the naturalist John Muir.
The girl was named Linnea, after Carl Linnaeus.
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