September 3, 2019 Spring Bulbs for Pollinators, George Thorndike, Sara Allen Plummer Lemmon, George Vanderbilt, Biltmore, John Updike, September, Gardening with Conifers by Adrian Bloom, a Space to Cure Garlic, and Ringo Starr

Have you ordered your spring bulbs yet?

Here's a new perspective on planting spring bulbs - they're essential resources for pollinators.

Most gardeners think about spring-flowering bulbs in terms of color - which is something we desperately need after a long winter. But spring-flowering bulbs are valuable for another reason: they're an early source of nectar for pollinators.

Think about planting these spring bulbs this October to help out bumblebees, native bees, and other pollinators in the early days of spring:

Crocus, tulips, and daffodils are obvious choices. Other excellent spring bulb selections include fritillaria, grape hyacinths, winter aconites, snowdrops, squill, and Glory of the Snow (Chinodoxia). All of these bulbs can be planted now through the end of October.

And don't forget you can plant early-flowering spring perennials to accompany these bulbs. Choose plants like early flowering hellebores and lungwort.







#OTD On this day in 1802, a 13-year-old boy named George Thorndike planted a tree at Bowdoin College in Maine.

Thorndike was part of the first class at Bowdoin. The grade was made up of 8 boys. Aside from being part of the charter class, Thorndike became a vital part of the college's history. 

The story happened after Thorndike attended the very first service at the college chapel. As he was leaving the chapel, he spied a little acorn by the path. Thorndike knew enough about plants and trees to know that the acorn was a little out of place in the pine-laden forest around Bowdoin.

Thorndike planted the acorn, and the following year, it had made enough progress for Thorndike to move the sapling to the college president's garden. 

The year George and his class graduated in 1806, they met under the tree to say farewell. The Thorndike Oak became an essential symbol for Bowdoin College and a yearly commencement tradition; students would meet under the Thorndike Oak before the ceremony. 





#OTD   Today is the birthday of the botanist Sara Allen Plummer Lemmon, who was born on this day in 1836.

Lemmon is remembered for her successful 1903 piece of legislation that nominated the golden poppy (Eschscholzia californica) as the state flower of California. Asa Gray named the genus Plummera in honor of Sara Plummer Lemmon. Plummera is yellow wildflowers in the daisy family,  and they bloom from July through September in southeastern Arizona.

Lemmon and her husband, John Gill Lemmon, were both botanists. Her husband always went by his initials JG. Although Sara partnered equally with her husband on their work in botany, their papers were always published with the credentials "J.G. Lemmon & Wife."

The Lemmons had found each other late in life in California. They had both suffered individually during the civil war. John was taken prisoner at Andersonville. He barely survived, and his health was impacted for the rest of his life. Sara had worked herself ragged - tending wounded soldiers in New York - while teaching.

In 1881, when Sara was 45 years old, the Lemmons took a honeymoon trip to Arizona. They called it their "botanical wedding trip." The Lemmons rode a train to Tucson along with another passenger - President Rutherford B. Hayes. When they arrived, the Lemmons set off for the Santa Catalina Mountains. In Elliot's history of Arizona, he recounts the difficulty in climbing the mountain range:

"The Lemmons often sat on the stone porch of their cave and dug the thorns and spines out of their hands and feet." Once, they saw, " . . . a lion so large he carried a huge buck away without dragging feet or antlers."

When they returned to Tucson unsuccessful and discouraged, they were told to meet a rancher named Emerson Oliver Stratton. Thanks to Stratton, they were able to ascend the Catalinas from the backside. When they arrived at the summit, Stratton was so impressed with Sara's drive and demeanor he named the mountain in her honor - Mount Lemmon. Sara was the first woman to climb the Catalinas. Twenty-five years later, in 1905, the Lemmons returned to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. When they climbed the Catalina's in celebration, Stratton was again at their side, helping them retrace the steps of their "botanical wedding trip" to the top of Mount Lemmon.





#OTD   Today, in 1893, The Times out of Philadelphia reported on a George Vanderbilt's mountain home; It said that the millionaire had transformed a forest into a blooming garden.

Of course, it was describing the Biltmore - Vanderbilt's country mansion and estate. Here's what it said:

"[Vanderbilt's] first step was to purchase, besides several mountains, 18,000 acres of land along the French Broad and the Swannanoa rivers. The next step ... was to restrain the natural temptation to carry out plans of his own and to employ the services of the greatest landscape artist in the country, Frederick Law Olmstead...

Seven hundred men are employed, their wages running from $1 per day to the salary of $12,000 paid to the overseer.

Three years ago, the work of transforming old fields, pastures and woodlands into a harmonious landscape began, and Professor Harbison.. is enthusiastic over the progress made... Boulders have been set in place, rhododendrons transplanted, and the whole is declared to be a poem in plants, trees and bowers. .. Already by the introduction of mosses and vines at the bridges portions of the place have taken on the appearance of age and the appearance of newness has been overcome."





Unearthed Words

"The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze. "
- John Updike, September





Today's book recommendation: Gardening with Conifers by Adrian Bloom


This is such a great book. It came out in 2002. It's a fantastic resource that outlines the coniferous trees and shrubs available to North American gardeners. It also shares how to combine conifers with other plants and use them as topiary. It also offers tips on the care and propagation of conifers. And, since it's been out a while, you can get used copies for less than $8 using the link in today's show notes.





Today's Garden Chore

Prepare a spot for curing your Garlic.

Garlic needs an airy, sheltered place to cure. And don't forget to order your Garlic now for planting in October.




Something Sweet 
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart


#OTD On this day in 1968, drummer Ringo Starr rejoined the Beatles.

He had quit the band two weeks earlier.  The Beatles had managed to keep the news away from the press and the public. Ringo had quit after feeling like the odd man out. During his time away from the band, he wrote "Octopus's Garden" on a yacht he borrowed from his friend actor Peter Sellers.

The band asked Ringo to return via a telegram. They said they loved him and thought he was the best rock n' roll drummer in the world.

Ringo arrived at Abbey Road to discover his drum kit covered with flowers spelling "Welcome Back, Ringo."




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