September 26, 2019 Bringing Nature Indoors, Nehemiah Grew, John Chapman, Oakes Ames, Robert Finch, The Pursuit of Paradise by Jane Brown, Preserve Herbs in Salt, and Cora Older

Right now is the perfect time to bring some nature indoors.

Why buy something manufactured to look like nature, when some of the most impactful pieces can be found right in your own garden?

I love to bring in some of the bird's nests from my garden. I place them on top of a stack of books, in a crystal bowl, or on a bookshelf. They add wonderful texture and interest to help ground your interior for winter.

Adding leaves and berries to ledges and your arrangements accomplish the same thing.

And, an exciting branch placed on a mantle, suspended from the ceiling or propped in the corner of a room, adds an attractive seasonal form; a natural element, that costs nothing, but brings a part of the garden, of the woods or the forest, into your home.





#OTD  Today is the birthday of the Father of Plant Anatomy, Nehemiah Grew, who was born on this day in 1641.

Grew was an English botanist and was the first person to illustrate the inner structures and functions of plants in all their wondrous intricacies.

If you've ever seen a Nehemiah Grew drawing, you'll never forget it; you're probably able to spot them a mile away. But, if you've never seen a Nehemiah Grew drawing, imagine an etch-a-sketch drawing on steroids. The lines are impossibly thin. The level of detail is staggering. For instance, Grew's drawings of tree parts cut transversely look like elaborate Japanese fans. This is because Grew was one of the first naturalists to incorporate the microscope in the study of plant morphology.

It was his use of the microscope that allowed Grew to give the first known microscopic description of pollen. Along those same lines, Grew was also the first person to analyze the ridges, furrows, grooves, and pores on human hands and feet. He published his incredibly accurate drawings of finger ridge patterns in  1684. Palm readers owe Grew a debt of gratitude. (Just kidding.... or am I?)





#OTD   Today is the birthday of John Chapman, who was born on this day in 1774.

You may never have heard of John Chapman, but you've probably heard of his nickname, Johnny Appleseed.

Chapman was born in Massachusetts, and the street where he was born is now called Johnny Appleseed Lane.

As a young man, Chapman became an apprentice to an orchardist named Crawford. The image most of us have of Chapman, traipsing through the country planting one apple tree at a time is off base. Chapman actually traipsed through the country planting entire apple orchards. He protected the grove by building a fence around it, and then arranging a deal with a neighboring farmer to sell trees from the orchard in exchange for shares. It was a genius setup.

During his life, Chapman had a particular regard for and relationship with Native  Americans who regarded him as a medicine man.  At the same time, Chapman wanted early American settlers to succeed; he often acted as a one-man welcome wagon, showing up at the door with a gift of herbs as a gesture of support.

For his part, Chapman was an expert in more plants than just apple trees; he was one of our country's first naturalists and herbalists. Chapman used many herbs for healing like catnip, hoarhound, pennyroyal, rattlesnake weed, and dog-fennel. In fact, dog fennel (Eupatorium) was also called "Johnny weed" because Chapman planted it, believing it was antimalarial. Whenever you hear Eupatorium, you can deduce that the plant is closely related to joe-pye weed. Unfortunately, dog fennel was not a good thing to spread around; it's a noxious weed.

The Johnny Appleseed Center on the campus of Urbana University in Urbana, Ohio, holds the most extensive collection of memorabilia and information on Chapmen. In 1999, seedlings from the last-known surviving Johnny Appleseed tree were transplanted into the courtyard around the museum.





#OTD   Today is the birthday of the botanist Oakes Ames who was born on this day in 1874.

What a great name for a botanist, huh? 

Ames was trained as an economic botanist, but his specialty was orchids. He had his own orchid collection as a kid, and you know what they say about orchid lovers; once you're hooked, you're hooked. The author, Norman MacDonald, wrote in his 1939 book The Orchid Hunters:

"For when a man falls in love with orchids, he'll do anything to possess the one he wants. It's like chasing a green-eyed woman [being consumed by desire] or taking cocaine. A sort of madness..."

Ames was a Harvard man; he spent his entire career there. His work on the Orchidaceae was foundational to the study of orchids. His effort culminated in a seven-volume work on the Orchid Family.

For his dedication, in 1924, Ames won the gold medal of the American Orchid Society. 

Today, Ames is recognized for his most significant contribution to the world of orchids, the Ames Orchid Herbarium (now part of the Harvard Herbaria) featuring 3,000 flowers in glycerine, 4,000 specimens that are pickled, along with 131,000 standard specimens, in addition to a magnificent library. 





Unearthed Words

 'I grow old, I grow old,' the garden says. It is nearly October.

The bean leaves grow paler, now lime, now yellow, now leprous, dissolving before my eyes.

The pods curl and do not grow, turn limp and blacken.

The potato vines wither, and the tubers huddle underground in their rough weather-proof jackets, waiting to be dug.

The last tomatoes ripen and split on the vine; it takes days for them to turn entirely now, and a few of the green ones are beginning to fall off."

- Robert Finch, Nature Writer


Today's book recommendation: The Pursuit of Paradise by Jane Brown

Brown's book was released back in 2000. The subtitle is A Social History of Gardens and Gardening. Brown covers the trends and beliefs about gardening through history from the water gardens of Persia to the future of gardens. The significant influencers in gardening are referenced, like Capability Brown and Vita Sackville-West. The chapters are set up by the type of garden through history: from the secret garden and the military garden too small gardens and formative gardens. If you are an explorer of garden history, this is a fantastic resource for your garden library. You can get used copies for less than $2 using the Amazon link in today's show notes.




Today's Garden Chore

Preserve some of your herbs in salt.

Even though September is flying, the herb garden is still going strong. Preserving herbs in salt is fun and easy and very old practice.

Now, you can use salt to preserve tender herbs, like basil and cilantro, work great with salt preservation. Jump on Amazon and order a couple of boxes of kosher or sea salt - and you're all set.

You have some options for using salt to preserve.

The first is the layer method;  just alternate layers of your herb with salt and refrigerate.

The second method is to grind the herbs with the salt and then lay the mixture on a sheet pan to dry. Then pack the salt in a glass jar and refrigerate.

Herbed salts make great holiday gifts, and there are heaps of recipes online.




Something Sweet 
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart


Today is the anniversary of the death of the novelist and horticulturist known as the Pink Lady Cora Older, who died on this day in 1968. 

Before Apple became associated with Cupertino, there was Cora Older and her husband, newspaper editor, Fremont. They were part of San Francisco's high society, entertaining guests like the poet Carl Sandburg and Lincoln Steffens, the muckraking journalist. Cora grew hundreds of pink roses in her garden, which is how she became known as "The Pink Lady."

During World War II, in August of 1942, the journalist Elsie Robinson wrote about Cora Older and the challenge faced by women dealing with the harvest alone in her column called "Listen World." I thought you would enjoy learning a little bit about Cora through this great story.

"Keeping the home fires burning is a cinch compared with keeping the home crops plucked these days, as those of us who have ranches and farms can testify.

Where, oh where, are the hordes of jobless lads who used to come ambling around when the peach was on the bough and the berry on the thorn?

I can tell you exactly where they are - Uncle Sam has gobbled them up, to the last calloused palm and freckle.

So what do we do for "hired hands?"

Mrs. Fremont Older knows the answer. Cora Older, the widow of America's great and beloved newspaper publisher and plenty of a writer herself, is lean, lithe, and possesses enough spunk to run a dozen unions.

Take this summer, for instance; maybe you've been getting your suntan at the nearest beach. Not so, Cora.

During sizzling July and August weeks, she has been climbing the hundreds of apricot and prunes trees that spread across her big ranch at Cupertino, picking the fruit herself with the occasional and temperamental aid of a 64-year-old handyman.

And if you don't think picking 'cots on a July afternoon is some job, you have a lot to learn, stranger.

To Cora, however, there was no alternative. There was the fruit, such a harvest, as the west has not seen in many a year. Golden floods of apricots, purple piles of prunes - but nary a man to pick them in or deliver them to the dryer.

So what?

So if a man could climb a tree, she could. And did.

Let the typewriter rest for a while, let the roses go ungathered - Cora Older was going to tackle her Victory harvest.

It's an epic that battle with heat and weariness, human cussedness, and old Mother Nature. I hope she puts it into a book.




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

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