September is my favorite month for planting trees, shrubs, and perennials.
The cool air makes outdoor exercise a joy, and the ground temperatures add the perfect amount of warmth for plants to get established.
Planting in the fall is preferred because it's the time of year when perennials experience less transplant shock. At the same time, there is still sufficient time for plants to establish their roots in the garden in time for winter. After their season of dormancy, when the ground warms again, fall-planted perennials grow and bloom more vigorously than if they were planted in the spring.
Bottom line: Now is NOT the time to stop planting. It's the perfect time to get your dig on.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist Jean-Baptiste Van Mons who died on this day in 1842.
The name of the game for Mons was selective breeding for pears. Selective breeding happens when humans breed plants to develop particular characteristics by choosing the parent plants to make the offspring.
Check out the patience and endurance that was required as Mon's described his work:
“I have found this art to consist in regenerating in a direct line of descent, and as rapidly as possible an improving variety, taking care that there be no interval between the generations. To sow, to re-sow, to sow again, to sow perpetually, in short to do nothing but sow, is the practice to be pursued, and which cannot be departed from; and in short this is the whole secret of the art I have employed.”
Jean-Baptiste Van Mons produced a tremendous amount of new pear cultivars in his breeding program - something north of forty incredible species throughout his lifetime. The Bosc and D'Anjou pears, we know today, are his legacy.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the day in 1847 when Henry David Thoreau left Walden Pond and moved in with Ralph Waldo Emerson in Concord, Massachusetts.
His two years of simple living at Walden Pond were over.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of James Veitch Jr., who died on this day in 1869.
Veitch was born into the famous family nursery business known the world over as Veitch Nurseries. His grandfather, John, had started the business. After growing up and learning the business from his father and grandfather, Veitch went to London to train with other nurserymen.
After he quickly became a partner in the nursery, he married Harriott Gould. In addition to being a wonderful plantsman himself, James Jr. was an exceptionally bright businessman. He acquired a nursery called the Royal Exotic Nursery in London to ensure the Veitch Nursery stayed competitive, and he turned Royal Exotic into the largest specialty nursery in Europe.
James Veitch Jr created the RHS Fruit and Floral Committees, which still exist today.
His love of the plants and the business were carried on in his three sons.
The oldest, John Gould Veitch, was one of the first plant hunters to visit Japan.
The second son, Harry James, oversaw the business during a period of peak growth.
The third son, Arthur, worked with Harry to send Plant Explorers on missions all over the globe.
Of the brothers, it was the middle son, Harry, who outlived them both. His older brother John Gould died young at age 31 from tuberculosis. Harry survived his younger brother, Arthur, who died young as well - he died after a short illness when he was just 36 years old.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the Belgian botanist and dendrologist Joseph Hers, who was born on this day in 1884.
Dendrology is the science and study of woody plants, like trees and shrubs, and their taxonomic classifications.
Hers made his first trip to China in 1905; he was an interpreter for the Belgium ministry. He later founded organizations to promote good relations between China and Belgium.
Later, Hers spent five years collecting in the north-central provinces of China from 1919-1924. The Arnold Arboretum had hired him to collect for them. As a dendrologist, Hers was primarily focused on trees. The rapid rate of deforestation in China was especially alarming to Hers. Among her discoveries was the snake bark maple Acer tegmentum.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the British Botanist Kathleen Basford who was born on this day in 1916.
As a young girl, Basford's nanny, Winny, taught her about the natural world; she learned to identify wildflowers and trees.
In the 1940s, Basford had three children of her own. She began gardening. When she wasn't with the children, she started breeding orchids. She became so interested in botany, and she took evening classes on the subject.
By the early 1950s, Basford published a paper on a fuchsia she discovered. It proved that the fuchsia had existed 20-30 million years ago - before the break-up of the continents. Her article caught the attention of the chair of the botany department at Manchester University, a geneticist named Sydney Harland. He offered Basford a job on the spot.
Later in life, Basford also wrote a book called "The Green Man." Before her book, this topic was mostly unknown to the world. The Green Man is a mythical figure - portrayed as a man with a head that sprouts leave. It is a relic of the middle ages.
"It's designed to break your heart.
The game begins in the spring, when everything is new again,
and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings,
and then as soon as the chill rains comes,
it stops, and leaves you to face the fall alone."
- A Bartlett Giamatti
This is a book that was released in 2005, and it's still one of my favorites. Nancy Goodwin and her husband, Craufurd, searched for ten years before finding a 61-acre property in 1977. The place had been in the Graham family for three generations. They had named it Montrose in honor of their Scottish ancestry. This book is the story of how the Goodwins transformed the property; it's a beautiful biography of the many gardens of Montrose.
Today's Garden Chore
If you live in a cold climate, late fall is a wonderful time to sow flower seeds in your garden.
Sweet Alyssum, Bee Balm, Coreopsis, Delphinium, Lady’s Mantle, Penstemon, and Sweet Pea are just a handful of the flowers you can sow in your fall garden. Additionally, many annuals, like cosmos, nigella, and cleome, will seed themselves after a summer in your garden.
If any seeds germinate in places where you don't want them, it's pretty easy to remove them in the spring or early summer.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
I was researching a family tree on Ancestry recently, and I came across this short notice in The Mower County Transcript out of Lansing, Minnesota from this in 1893.
Here's what it said:
"The parties who recently took flowers from the garden of Mrs. M. E. Nancarrow are known and must call and pay for them or be subjected to serious trouble."
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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