Now is the perfect time to play doctor in the garden.
Look for the sick or injured. Look for plants that haven't thrived, plants with a disease, and plants riddled with pests.
You don't want to leave any diseased plants in your garden over the winter. If you can do only one fall garden chore, taking out the sick and infirm is what you want to do.
All these babies get dug up and escorted out of my garden. Generally, I say that nothing green or brown leaves the property, but these are items I don't dare chop and drop, or compost - these sick plants go out.
#OTD It’s the birthday of Lancelot Brown, who was born on this day in 1716.
Lancelot ended up at Stowe working for William Kent - the eminent painter and Landscape Architect. Stowe was commissioned in the 1730s. The garden at Stowe was a landscape garden. Lots of straight lines and formality. The garden looked like a painting with an 11-acre lake. The main area was the Elysian Fields; 40 acres featuring buildings and monuments that flank two narrow lakes called the River Styx. The monuments honored the virtuous men of Britain
The time spent with Kent at Stowe not only transformed the land, but it also transformed Lancelot from a gardener into a Landscape Architect. It was his big break.
After Stowe, Brown traveled all over England as a freelancer. Brown’s skill and his nickname came from seeing the “capabilities” of the landscape.
He became so popular that everyone with means wanted a Capability Brown landscape - they craved his garden designs and garden temples. What everyone wanted was beauty and Capability delivered just that: beautiful gardens. Today, at least 20 of his gardens remain and are in the care of England’s National Trust.
#OTD Today is the birthday of Agoston Haraszthy, who was born on this day in 1812.
Haraszthy's family was Hungarian nobility. In 1840, he immigrated to the United States. Back home, Haraszthy had gotten hold of a book that reported the Wisconsin territory offered the finest land in America. So, he went there first. Since Haraszthy’s dream was to make European wine in America, he quickly discovered Wisconsin was not the place for that.
In short order, Haraszthy made his way to San Francisco with the gold rush. But San Francisco was not a fit with the grapes. It was foggy and cold. But then, Haraszthy found the Sonoma Valley in 1857. Sonoma Valley was called the "Valley of the Moon" by the writer Jack London, and it turned out that Sonoma was the perfect place to grow purple gold. After a dozen years of searching, Harazethy had found a place suitable for growing European grapes - which were more delicate and more finicky than North American wild grapes. Giddy and hopeful, Haraszethy built a white villa for his wife and six children on a property he named Buena Vista or Good View. Then he went to Europe and collected 100,000 cuttings of 300 varieties of grapes. There were the rare white grapes of the Pinot Chardonnay, the Hungarian green grape, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and the white Riesling grapes of the Rhine and Moselle river region - just to name a few.
There is an old saying that the God of wine, Bacchus, loved the hills. Well, Haraszethy loved them, too. He was the first vinedresser to grow his grapes on the mountainsides in California. Haraszthy brought many European growing methods to his estate - which included growing the grape plants closer together. This was something other growers found unwise. But Haraszthy knew that growing grapes near stressed the vines, which in turn, made better-tasting grapes. Haraszthy also performed a green harvest - something no one had ever done before. Today the technique is known as dropping fruit, which means doing an initial harvest of some of the grapes; the fewer grapes on the vine - the better the flavor of the remaining grapes. That year Haraszthy also brought in a team of Chinese laborers, and they worked to dig out the first wine caves in the state. The most impressive accomplishment included a 100-feet-deep stone wine cellar built on the side of a hill.
In 1863, Haraszthy incorporated his vineyard as the Buena Vista Vinicultural Society. Thanks to investors, Haraszthy purchased an additional 4,000 acres making Buena Vista the second largest vineyard in the state.
In 1866, a vine disease swept through the area. Haraszthy and his unique growing methods were blamed for the small tasteless grapes and the brown, dying vines. The disease was Phylloxera - an aphid that attacks vine roots and causes grapes to harden on the vine. It wiped out Buena Vista. Haraszthy filed for bankruptcy.
With his vineyard and his reputation in tatters, Haraszthy went south to Nicaragua. He planted a large sugar plantation, and he planned to make and sell rum. But, on July 6, 1869, as he was reaching for a vine while crossing a river on his property. He lost his balance, fell into the river, and was eaten by an alligator.
Today, Haraszthy is considered the father of California Viticulture or Wine-Making. In 1946, a plaque to Haraszthy was dedicated to the plaza of Sonoma. In March 2007, Haraszthy was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame by the Culinary Institute of America.
Quinnipeague in August was a lush green place where inchworms dangled from trees whose leaves were so full that the eaten parts were barely missed. Mornings meant 'thick o' fog' that caught on rooftops and dripped, blurring weathered gray shingles while barely muting the deep pink of rosa rugosa or the hydrangea's blue. Wood smoke filled the air on rainy days, pine sap on sunny ones, and wafting through it all was the briny smell of the sea.”
― Barbara Delinsky, Sweet Salt Air
This fantastic book came out this summer - It's a fantastic resource. If you are a deer-plagued gardener, you're going to want to get this book.
Instead of relying on fencing or chemicals, Karen is proposing another way: making intentional selections for deer-resistant plants. She showcases real home gardens across North America from New Jersey to Texas. Each homeowner shares their top ten deer-resistant plants. It's a book of best practices - proven selection for a lush, deer-defying garden. What a brilliant idea!
Today's Garden Chore
Consider installing more pathways in your garden.
It's helpful to have a main walkway through the garden. Along the path, you can add focal points like statuary or containers. You can add interest and intrigue with tall plants like cup plant or lovage. The paths provide structure and function in the garden. I remember when I installed a path along with the garden in front of my front porch — the best thing I ever did.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Today in 1962, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin shared a story about the first tulips.
Most of us have heard this fascinating part of botanical history, but back in 1962, this story would have been a revelation to most people. Here's what it said:
"The first time tulips were mentioned in Europe was in 1554, after a botanist found a few specimens near Constantinople. Six years later, another botanist brought some of the bulbs to Holland. From about 1600 to 1650, Europe underwent a 'tulip-mania," with bulbs being sold for as much as $2,200 each."
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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SI HORTUM IN HORTORUM PODCASTUM IN BIBLIOTEHCA HABES, NIHIL DEERIT.