I had to chuckle the other day as I was putting together my fall containers.
The first thing I do when I transition from one season to another is determining which plants are salvageable - the ones that have enough gas to go another season. One of my pots ended up being a bit of a jumble. I call it my "Must Go" Container in honor of my husband's Great Aunt Lena.
Here's the backstory: Great Aunt Lena would babysit my husband and his siblings when they were little. She was helping out my in-laws while they were both at work, and she was famous for making a casserole at the end of the week she called "Must Go" hotdish. Phil's dad used to tell how one particular Must Go hotdish was extra memorable because when he was dishing himself up a plate, he pulled out a whole piece of pizza out of the depths of this hotdish, which no doubt was combined with a can of cream of mushroom soup.
In any case, my "Must Go" container ended up being a bit of an homage to Great Aunt Lena; individually, the plants looked fine. But, put together, the effect was jumbled - a "Must Go" container if ever there was one. I'll have to redo it this weekend.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the English gardener, designer, and nurseryman Henry Wise who was born on this day in 1653.
One can't mention Henry Wise without talking about George London. The two worked together on gardens throughout England. The partnership began when Wise was a student in London. When Wise came of age, he became London's partner at the Brompton Park nurseries.
Wise was one of the most excellent gardeners and plantsmen of his time. Together, he and London became THE designers to work for over two decades until London died in 1714. Wise is remembered for being the gardener for Queen Anne, although he also managed the royal gardens during the reigns of William III and George I as well.
London and Wise designed formal baroque gardens. Think - box hedges, gravel walkways, beautiful statuary, and magnificent fountains.
Wise laid out the stunning avenue of Chestnut trees in England's Bushy Park as well as the walled kitchen garden made for the Duke of Marlborough in Blenheim, which thrills visitors still today.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the Arnold Arboretum taxonomist and dendrologist Alfred Rehder, who was born on this day in 1863.
A dendrologist studies trees, and Rehder was the top dendrologist of his generation. Rehder learned about horticulture from his father, who was an amateur gardener. He worked at several botanical gardens around Germany.
At the turn of the 20th century, Rehder was sent to the US to study American grapes - which were resistant to phylloxera - the disease that was caused by aphids, and that was threatening to obliterate wine production in Europe. There was no better place for Rehder to conduct his research than Harvard's Arnold Arboretum. It was a fortuitous assignment for Rehder, who ended up meeting the director of the Arboretum - Charles Sprague Sargent. Sargent recognized Rehder's intelligence and diligence. He persuaded him to stay on and gave him the excellent assignment of compiling a bibliography of everything written about woody plants published before 1900. It resulted in a five-volume, 3,789-page work.
Rehder accomplished much during his time at Harvard. He launched a quarterly botanical publication known as the Journal of the Arnold Arboretum, and he came up with a system to identify geographic zones based on the relationship between temperature and the hardiness of specific plants. Rehder's work helped establish what we know as the USDA Hardiness zone maps.
#OTD Today is the birthday of Canada’s first professional woman plant breeder - a woman called the “dean of hybridists” and the “Grand Lady of Canadian Horticulture" - Isabella Preston, who was born on this day in 1881.
Vita Sackville-West once acknowledged, "I must confess I don't know anything about Miss Isabella Preston of Ottawa. . ."
Preston's name had become famous as the result of her lily hybrids. She bred the renowned George C. Creelman hybrid lily in 1919.
Vita would have loved Preston's practical and hard-won advice. When a colleague asked Preston what she should do with her rock garden, Preston's advice was fascinating:
“Use every bit of rock – Don’t be afraid of it. Plant between, atop or along side. Presently, you will be convinced that flowers need near them the harsh stability of stone.”
Preston was a self-taught plant hybridizer. In 1920 she joined the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. For almost three decades, she endeavored to create more blooms on more disease-resistant plants. She created over 200 cultivars of six different plants, including lilacs, lilies, crab apples, columbine, Siberian iris, and roses. Preston Lilacs are named in her honor. Preston received many honors for her work.
"She had only to stand in the orchard, to put her hand on a little crab tree and look up at the apples, to make you feel the goodness of planting and tending and harvesting at last."
- Willa Cather
"September fattens on vines.
Roses flake from the wall.
The smoke of harmless fires drifts to my eyes.
This is plenty. This is more than enough."
- Geoffrey Hill, September Song
With space becoming a premium for urban gardens and for gardeners who want to keep their gardens more manageable, compact plants are the perfect solution. One of my favorite things about this book is the amazon options for edible plants that work in small spaces. Incorporating edibles into little areas in your garden allows you to maximize your garden's productivity and your return on investment.
In addition to edibles, Jessica offers suggestions for compact flowering and fruiting trees, as well as small shrubs, evergreens, and perennials. Plus, Jessica shares what she calls, "The Magic 7 Maintenance Tasks" - little tips for creating a successful garden one task at a time.
Today's Garden Chore
Now is the time to get your order together for spring bulbs.
Whether you use them for planting or forcing during the winter, you will get the best selection if you order early.
Once you get them, make sure you don't plant them until the weather turns colder later in the fall.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
On this day in 1938, Charles Joseph Sauriol wrote in his journal.
He wrote about a common occurrence in gardens; plants growing together.
"[I] set out plantations of Thyme, Rosemary, Tarragon, Mint, Caraway, in the Wild Flower garden which now becomes a herb garden as well. This is my answer to keeping the weeds down…. My studies converge so why not the plants?"
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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