This past week, I started looking for perennials I want to divide. After the hail storm and siding installation we had earlier this month, I don't feel too bad about digging up the plants. The garden looks tough. Might as well dig up old plants.

I always start with my hostas - in part, because they recover so quickly. Next spring, you'll never know that they were transplanted this fall. In addition, they, like the ferns, are used as great ground covers. Got chronic creeping charlie, creeping buttercup, or creeping anything... plant a hosta. It can handle the creepers, and even if they manage to survive under the dense canopy, they aren't as vigorous, and you won't see them anyway.

 

 

Brevities

#OTD On this day in 1773, French explorer and botanist Aimé Bonpland was born.

Bonpland had traveled with Alexander von Humboldt in Latin America for five years - from 1799-1804, collecting & classifying 6,000 new plants. He co-authored many books about his discoveries.

One of his journal entries says this:

"We just arrived in a town where the locals invited us to eat a dish called enchiladas. When I tried it, my tongue burned, and I started to sweat. I was told that this feeling is due to a fruit called "chili." I have to analyze it ..."

And here's a little trivia about Bonpland: When Napolean's wife Josephine died, Bonpland was present at her deathbed.

 

 

 

#OTD Today, in 1798, the first American vineyard was planted 25 miles from Lexington, Kentucky.

It was started by a Swiss immigrant named John James Dufour. He established the first successful commercial vineyard and winery in America. He called it “The First Vineyard.”

Dufour had read newspaper accounts of the American Revolution as a young boy in Switzerland. What struck him most was something the French fighters had said. They were fighting alongside the colonists, and they bemoaned the fact that they didn't have any wine to drink in America. It left an impression on DuFour. His grandfather and father were both vine dressers in Switzerland. Dufour wanted to bring their winemaking skills to America.

In 1796, Dufour arrived in America. Initially, he made a point of visiting Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and other estates. DuFour noticed they were working with the wild grapes, which Dufour felt were inferior.

After one year of success with "The First Vineyard," Dufour wrote to his father, brothers, and sisters in Switzerland and invited them all to join him. Seventeen members of his family made the voyage.

After his family arrived, Dufour petitioned congress for the privilege of getting land in Indiana. The area had a steep valley that reminded the family of Switzerland. Congress granted special approval for Dufour. By 1806, the first wine was made from the vineyard in Indiana, known as "The Second Vineyard," and the area became known as New Switzerland.

 

 

 

#OTD Today is the birthday of the man known as the King of Colorado Botany, Charles Christopher Parry, who was born on this day in 1823.

Parry discovered both the Torrey pine and Engelmann spruce, which gives you a clue about his impressive mentors. Although he rubbed shoulders with the best botanists of his time, Parry's focus was not academic. He was more interested in making sure the public and the common man benefitted from his work.

In 1845 while he was at college, Parry's teacher was the great John Torrey. Parry was good friends with Asa Gray - who was also a student of John Torrey. In 1848, Parry learned about the botanical trade from the star of the Missouri Botanical Garden: George Engelmann.

In the summer of 1862, he brought Elihu Hall and J. P. Harbour on an expedition to Colorado. The men gathered ten sets of over 700 species. According to William Weber, their effort remains "the largest [collection ever] made in Colorado in a single season."

Parry spent 20 summers in Colorado - in a cabin nestled between Torrey Peak and Gray Peak - mountains he named after John Torrey and Asa Gray. Parry named another mountain Eva Peak in honor of his wife. He even named one Mount Flora.

In 1870, during a visit to England, Parry met the master botanist of his age: Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. In fact, it was Hooker who referred to Parry as the "King of Colorado Botany."

And it wasn't just Colorado that Parry explored. He traveled throughout the West, amassing over 30,000 specimens for his herbarium. When Parry was collecting in California, he continued his habit of recording his thoughts into notebooks. Occasionally, he waxed poetic about the landscape. In one example from his time in California, he wrote:

“A newborn moon hangs her crescent over the western hills, and by its full-orbed light, we hope to see our way to winter quarters on the Pacific.”

 

 

 

#OTD Today is the birthday of Roger Tory Peterson of Peterson's Field Guide to Birds fame - he was born in 1908.

Peterson not only wrote the guides, but he also illustrated them.</

Peterson was the noted American naturalist who brought the natural world to the masses in the 20th century. A son of Jamestown, New York, Peterson, helped new generations of people fall in love with ornithology.

Peterson admired the gumption of the common starling. He felt blue jays had "a lot of class," and he said the house sparrow was "an interesting darn bird."

Peterson once famously described a purple finch as a "Sparrow dipped in raspberry juice (male)."

When it came to the Audobon Oriole, Peterson quipped that its song was like "a boy learning to whistle."

What was Roger Tory Peterson’s favorite bird? The King Penguin.

Here are some famous Peterson quotes:

"Few men have souls so dead that they will not bother to look up when they hear the barking of wild Geese."

"Birds have wings; they're free; they can fly where they want when they want. They have the kind of mobility many people envy."

"Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we'll soon be in trouble."

And finally, the book, The World of Roger Tory Peterson is worth a read if you can get hold of a copy.

 

 

 

Unearthed Words

"Buttercup nodded, and said good-bye;

Clover and Daisy went off together;

But the fragrant water-lilies lie

Yet moored in the golden August weather."

Celia Thaxter ~ August

The poet Celia Laighton Thaxter (1835-1894) grew up on an island.

Her father built a hotel on Appledore Island, and it became a hub for artists, creatives, and writers of New England during the late 19th century. With the natural beauty of the island and Celia's lovely garden, it's no wonder that Appledore became a muse for many.

Today, Celia's garden is as enchanting as it was over 100 years ago. Celia grew cut flowers for her father's hotel. She also wrote a best-selling book called An Island Garden.

 

 

 

 

Today's book recommendation: Midwest Foraging by Lisa M. Rose

If you're a beginner forager, and most of us fall into that category, this beautifully formatted guide will be your go-to resource - even advanced foragers find it helpful.

Lisa's plant profiles include color photos, tips for identification, and excellent ideas for both eating and preserving your treasures. Lisa's friendly and matter-of-fact approach shines through in this work; she takes the fear out of foraging!

 

 

 

Today's Garden Chore

August is the perfect time to sow winter salads for the greenhouse or cold frame.

Though it's tempting to say, "Let us wait," wise gardeners know that WSR's(Winter Salad Requirements) are more fully satisfied when effort is made in August.

 

 

 

 

Something Sweet

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

It was on this day in 2002 that Spaniards threw 120 tons of tomatoes at each other at the annual Tomatina festival in Bunol, Spain.

Every year, on the last Wednesday of August, the town of Buñol, in #Spain, celebrates the biggest tomato fight in the world and Spain's messiest festival: ¡¡¡¡LA TOMATINA!!!!

It has been a tradition since 1945 when some kids had a tomato fight in the town square.

Now, every year, trucks bring in tons of tomatoes grown, especially for the event. In the town square, Spanish ham is attached to the top of a greased pole. Most years, climbers are not able to reach the ham - but occasionally, one climber makes this remarkable accomplishment. Then, visitors and residents alike begin the tomato fight and revel in the red sauce.

The tomato-throwing spree attracts upwards of 50,000 visitors to Buñol every single year.

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