August 29, 2019 Remaking Containers, The Botanists Patrick Browne, Rudolf Geschwind and the Countess of Roses, Christina Rossetti, Colors from Nature by Bobbi McRae, Redesigning with Hostas, and Ingrid Bergman in Cactus Flower

Well, it's time to get serious about remaking our containers – especially on the front porch and around the front door.

Editing containers from time to time is essential to keep them looking great.

Sometimes combinations don’t work well; other times, plants can grow in unexpected ways – too tall, too bushy, or just an abject failure.

With the arrival of fall, it’s the perfect time to remove spent plants and replace them with selections that are more seasonally appropriate.

Fall pansies are lovely to incorporate if you live in a cold climate. They can take colder temperatures with no problem. Of course, mums and asters and even grasses are wonderful in fall pots.

I always like to look for bargains at my local nurseries and big box stores. Sometimes those finds get placed in containers temporarily before they find a home in the garden.

And don’t forget you can include houseplants when you’re working with your fall containers.

Pathos and Croton, even chopped up sections from an overgrown Boston fern, are tremendous additions to fall containers.





#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the Irish botanist and friend of Linnaeus, Patrick Browne, who died on this day in 1790.

There are no photographs of Patrick Browne - who was also a physician, but was described this way:

“The Doctor is a tall comely man, of good address and gentle manners, naturally cheerful, very temperate and in general health.”

Browne's major work was The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica, published in 1756 in which he described 104 new species. In fact, Browne's work was the first book in the English language to use Linnaeus' classification system.

Linnaeus was very pleased with Browne's work. He told the botanist Peter Collinson (who was friends with John Bartram and Benjamin Franklin) that after he had read Browne's book, he reflected, “No author did I ever quit more instructed" and he gushed that Browne, "ought to be honored with a Golden Statue.”

Browne named the genus to which cloves belong: Syzygium aromaticum.




#OTD Today is the birthday of the German Austrian rosarian Rudolf Geschwind who was born on this day in 1829.

As a child, Geschwind loved gardening. As a young man, he studied Forestry, and his first job was working for the Austro-Hungarian Department of Forestry. Although he performed excellent work in the field of forestry, Geschwind's true passion was roses.

At the age of 30, Geschwind began experimenting with breeding roses. It was a pursuit he would perfect over the next five decades. Geschwind's specialty was breeding roses that were frost resistant. Geschwind created close to 150 rose cultivars. His prized collection of climbing roses were displayed at the 1889 World's Fair in Paris.

When Geschwind died in 1910, the Countess Maria-Henrieta Chotek, known as "The Countess of Roses," or "The Pink Countess," purchased Geschwind's entire collection - including some which had never been made public. As a member of one of the most distinguished families of the Czech nobility, Chotek had the means to handle this impressive transfer. In fact, Chotek was so serious about the effort to preserve Geschwind's work that she sent two of her gardeners to oversee the transfer of the collection. It was no small affair - it involved packing and moving over 2,000 roses to her estate - the Manor House or Castle known as Dolna Krupa. Over a century before, Dolna Krupa was the place where Beethoven is presumed to have written his Moonlight Sonata. Maria-Henrieta's great grandfather, Jozef, was friends with Beethoven, and he allowed Beethoven to live at Dolna Krupa for nearly a decade.

Maria-Henrieta Chotek was born almost 60 years after Beethoven's stay at Dolna Krupa in 1863. As a woman who never married, her inheritance allowed her to pursue her passion for roses with abandon - and she did. She was in her 30's when she inherited Dolna Krupa. Once it was all hers, she set about creating one of the top three rosaria in Europe. During its prime, the rosaria at Dolna Krupa rivaled the rosaria in France and the Rosarium of Sangerhausen in Germany.

Chotek was a woman of action, and she didn't just direct activities - she was very hands-on. As a rosarian herself, Chotek developed new cultivars and conducted experiments. One time while visiting an exhibition, Chotek watched as a German horticulturist named Johannes Böttner presented a rambling rose called the Fragezeichen which means the "Question Mark." (What a great name!) The rose intrigued Henrieta Chotek so much, that she immediately left for Frankfurt to see the Fragezeichen trials personally.

The year 1914 marked a turning point in Chotek's life and the fate of many of Geschwind's roses. That year, in June, the Rose Congress was held at Zweibrücken. Chotek's work and rosaria were honored. But in the days following the event, Marie Henrieta's cousin, Sophie Chotek Ferdinand, wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was murdered alongside her husband in Sarajevo and World War I had begun. Chotek swung into action, this time as a nurse caring for wounded soldiers. When the war was over, her rosarium was destroyed.

Chotek immediately set about rebuilding her rosarium. She even began a rose breeding school right on the grounds pf Dolna Krupa. But, lacking the means and the energy of youth, Chotek was never able to restore Dolna Krupa to its former glory. During WWII, Dolna Krupa was ransacked by the Russian Army. In February 1946, destitute and sick, Chotek died while in the care of nuns. She was 83 years old.

Today, the Music Museum at Dolna Krupa holds a Rose Celebration in honor of Chotek. Tourists visit Dolna Krupa, primarily to see the place Beethoven lived. Visitors bring baskets and collect leaves of the wild garlic that grows rampant on the grounds of the estate.




Unearthed Words

Here's an excerpt from a poem called A Year's Windfalls by the English poet Christina Rossetti.

"In the parching August wind,
Cornfields bow the head,
Sheltered in round valley depths,
On low hills outspread.
Early leaves drop loitering down Weightless on the breeze,
First-fruits of the year's decay
From the withering trees."

Christina Rossetti wrote the words to two of my favorite Christmas Carols: "In the Bleak Midwinter" and "Love Came Down at Christmas."

It was Christina Rossetti who said, "My garden cannot be anything other than "my self."




Today's book recommendation: Colors from Nature by Bobbi McRae

Colors from Nature was published in 1993. McRae shares how to grow plants to collect, prepare, and use natural dyes.



Today's Garden Chore

Now's the perfect time to relocate your hostas to improve the aesthetic of your garden.

It's hard to know sometimes when you plant a hosta how you will feel about it once it's matured. When they are small, we often place hostas in a haphazard fashion - here's an empty spot - let's stick a hosta there.

If you're not careful, the garden can end up looking like the hosta version of a patchwork quilt. And while you're placing them, remember that your blue or darker hostas like more shade - while the lighter colors of the yellowy-green hostas and variegated hostas can take more sun.




Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

#OTD On this day in 1915 Ingrid Bergman, the actress, was born in Stockholm, Sweden. (She also died on the same day in 1982 at the age of 67.)

Bergman appeared in a number of films, including the iconic Casablanca.

In 1969, Bergman appeared in a movie called Cactus Flower. Bergman was portraying a nurse named Stephanie Dickinson working in a Dentist's office. The dentist was played by Walter Matthau.

Gardeners adore the movie Cactus Flower for the following lines read by Bergman:

Early in the film, Bergman is talking to Matthau, and she puts him in his place by saying,

"Doctor, you once compared me to my cactus plant. Well, every so often, that prickly little thing puts out a flower."

Then, later in the film she memorably exclaims,

"My cactus! It's blooming!"



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