September 19, 2019 Early Fall at the Botanic Garden, Mildred Mathias, Orville Redenbacher, Francis Darwin, Dr. James Duke, Louise Seymour Jones, The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan, Moving Houseplants Back Indoors, Dr. Oliver Sacks and the New York Botanical Garden

There's are some lines from a TS Eliot poem that go like this :

"Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?'

Let us go and make our visit."

If you've never visited your local botanic garden this time of year, you really should go. I have a friend who recently did this, and she posted terrific pictures from her visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. She said this:

"This is my PSA : Get yourself to the Arb . Don’t wait to go just to see the change in color of the trees (like everyone else ) Go now ! The colors of the flowers are crazy ! This is just a couple quick snaps with my phone ( which doesn’t do justice) no filters, editing or enhancing. The colors are just THAT bright and bold.

I’ve never gone this time of year. I go in the spring, a few times mid summer then I wait like everyone else for the leaves to change and go again. I’ve even gone in the winter but never late late summer /early fall . For some reason I thought there wouldn’t be anything to look at. I thought the flowers would be half dead ( like my potted plants at home ????) I won’t make that mistake again."





#OTD Today is the birthday of the botanist professor Mildred Mathias who was born on this day in 1906 in Sappington, Missouri.

Mathias was a professor at UCLA for twelve years, until 1974. She also served as president of the American Society for Plant Taxonomists and the Botanical Society of America.

Matthias is remembered as a pioneer in the area of ecotourism. She enjoyed bringing botanists and amateurs alike all over the world to study and discover plants.

From her early days with Dr. Lincoln Constance at Berkeley, back in 1937, Matthias began to focus on Umbelliferae.

The Umbelliferae ("Um-bull-iffer-EYE") is a family of aromatic flowering plants, and it’s commonly referred to as the carrot, or celery, or parsley family.

It also includes other essential herbs like Angelica and Annis Carraway, and chervil, dill, fennel, lovage, and parsnip, just to name a few.

The growing habit in plants throughout the family varies. The taproots of carrot and parsnip are big enough to be harvested as food. Plants like cilantro, coriander, dill, and parsley or harvested for their leaves, which contain essential oils that are very aromatic. Also, the seeds of these plants, like fennel and cumin and coriander, are also harvested for cuisine.

Umbelliferae prefer soil that is cool; and, they grow best in the shoulder seasons. Umbelliferae are favorites among ladybugs and parasitic wasps.

The family Umbelliferae is named because of the tiny flowers that are clustered together to form in amble – a little flower overhang reminiscent of an umbrella.

It fits then that the Mathiasella bupleuroides is named in her honor. Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’ is native to Mexico; it was discovered in 1954. The umbelliferous flowerhead of Green Dream has these jade-green, bracts that appear from April to June. In the Fall, the flower heads turn a charming pink. Here's a fun fact; Green Dream was a bit of a sensation at Chelsea 2006.

Over the course of Matthias‘s career, she published over 100 articles and books about the Umbelliferae. Volume 26 of Madrono was dedicated to Mildred Mathias, and the tribute recognized Mathias' pioneering spirit and energy. In 1993, Mathias was honored as the Distinguished Economic Botanist of the year.




#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of Orville Redenbacher, who died on this day in 1995.

Redenbacher started out as a USDA agricultural scientist. In that capacity, he became the co-creator of a new hybrid of popcorn called "snowflake." It was lighter and fluffier than traditional popped kernels, and Redenbacher became a household name with his commercials for his popcorn.




#OTD Today is the birthday of the third son of Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin - known to his family as Frank.

In 1887, Frank shared a portrait of his father in a book called life and letters of Charles Darwin. The letters revealed Darwin's fluid prose and clarity. Frank said that correcting his father's proof sheets made him a better writer.

There's no doubt. Frank had been taught by a master teacher and, in turn, he became a teacher as well. At Cambridge, he taught students of pure science and medicine.

Frank Darwin received many honors during his lifetime, including the President of the British Association in the 1908-1909 year.

In 1913, he was knighted by the Queen.

It was Frank Darwin who said,

“The personal effect of teacher on pupil cannot be bought at a price, nor can it be paid for in any coin but gratitude. It is the possibility of earning this payment that makes the best part of a teacher's life."




#OTD On this day in 1991, The New York Times printed an announcement about an upcoming symposium at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) featuring Dr. James Duke.

Duke was sharing his research; the topic was plants for health and healing and their role in modern medicine.

The article shared Duke's incredible personal experience using plants to promote his own good health. It said this:

"Dr. James Duke is one of those rare botanists who actually eat what they preach.

He loves to watch the evening primrose open within 60 seconds. But he also munches its seeds, which are high in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that can relieve pain and depression.

Purple coneflowers thrive in his rather rumpled wild garden in Fulton, Md. He eats their roots to boost his immune system.

To cure a cold, he mashes up the stems and leaves of forsythia. To help strengthen weak capillaries, he makes "rutinade" from violet and buckwheat flowers, lemon grass, rhubarb stalks, and herbs high in rutin (anise, camomile, mint, rosehips)."




Unearthed Words

"Spring flowers are long since gone. Summer's bloom hangs limp on every terrace.
The gardener's feet drag a bit on the dusty path, and the hinge in his back is full of creaks."

- Louise Seymour Jones




Today's book recommendation: The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan

This is a top-selling book on Amazon, and it launched the best-selling series about all things backyard.

In The Backyard Homestead, Carleen shows you how to produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre.

Best of all, the book is loaded with ideas, illustrations, and enthusiasm. It is eye-opening to see just what can be accomplished on a standard-sized home lot.

Carleen has been in garden publishing for many years, but she also lives on an organic farm outside of Boston, so she knows of what she writes. Whether your backyard ambitions are modest or you’re scaling up for complete food self-sufficiency, this excellent guide helps you learn a range of essential skills - from starting seedlings and beekeeping basics to producing and preserving your own food. Growingng your own food brings an excessive amount of sufficiency and satisfaction.



Today's Garden Chore

Start moving houseplants back indoors.

This way, they can adjust gradually to decreasing sun exposure and humidity.

If your allergies can handle it, make a move while your windows are still open, to ease the transition.

Don't forget to move your tropical houseplants indoors by the end of the month.




Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

I recently had the opportunity to rewatch a video featuring Dr. Oliver Sacks, who practiced medicine in NYC across from the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG).

In the video, Sacks reflected on the garden and what it meant to him. I've cobbled together a few of his inspiring thoughts. Here's what he said:

"I think of this garden as a treasure. First, it's a haven. In a noisy, crowded New York, we need a haven; we wander around, and time doesn't matter too much.

When I worked at the hospital opposite the garden, I used to come in every day. Specifically, I would come in after seeing my patients but before writing up my notes. And, I would walk around the garden and put everything out of consciousness except the plants and the air.

But, by the time I got back, the patient's story would have crystallized in my mind [and then] I could then write it straight away. But I needed this sort of incubation in the garden, and to go for a walk in the garden; that sort of thing is an essential thing for me in writing.

I think nature has a healing effect; the garden the closest one can come to nature.

The garden has affected me and does affect me in various ways; it's not just the pleasure of walking around but [also] the very special virtues of the library and the museum and the fact that, in some ways, this is a university as well as a garden.

I just feel very comfortable in the garden, and whenever people come to New York from out of town or out of the country, I say let's go to the garden. I would like to quote a couple of lines from a TS Eliot poem:

"Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?'

Let us go and make our visit."



Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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