October 7, 2019 Little Prince Nursery, John Clayton, Joseph Knight, Robert Brown, Ezra Cornell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Foliage First by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz, Potting up Bulbs, Plant Explorers and the Story of the Little Helper

Mark from Little Prince nursery, and I became friends on Facebook over the past month.

I was immediately taken with the images on his feed, which is so full of the most beautiful blooms. His dahlias were to die for.

Anyway, at some point, I gave him a call, and we were talking away, and Mark asked if he could send me some plants. Um... yay!

They arrived right as we were headed up to the cabin, so I grabbed the box and brought it along. I unwrapped my new plants this morning, and I'm sharing the video in the Facebook Group - so you can check it out there.

I just wanted to say a word about ordering plants through the mail. That used to be such a crazy concept. But, our attitudes toward shipping have changed. Most of us get things in the mail that we never dreamed we would get shipped to us. My groceries and toiletries get sent to the cabin free now courtesy of Walmart. (The groceries aren't free, but the shipping is.) My point is that shipping has become the norm; it's only natural that plants would make their way into the process.

The chief concern when shipping plants is how to send plants in a responsible and effective way without having to charge a fortune for shipping. I think Little Prince has cracked that code. 

Anyway, check out the video in the FB group - you'll get to see the lovely view to the lake; it was simply pastoral today - the perfect Fall day. Then, watch as I unpack the box from Little Prince. It's so much fun - you'll see the magnificent unique specimens Mark sent, the superb packaging, and my method for acclimating newly shipped specimens. With any luck, the video will make you feel brave enough to order some for yourself. By the way, this not a sponsored post. This is just Mark being Mark, and me loving plants. Check out the Little Prince website, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to give them a call. Little Prince's customer service is so good; you'll feel like you are getting the royal treatment!






#OTD  Today is the birthday of the colonial botanist John Clayton who was born on this day in 1773.

Clayton's home in Virginia was called "Windsor."  He created a magnificent botanical garden, (and one of the first for this country), at Windsor.

Five hundred of Clayton's herbarium specimens were referenced for the "Flora Virginia" and were compiled by Gronovius along with input from Carl Linnaeus.




#OTD   Today is the birthday of the gardener, nurseryman, and expedition sponsor, Joseph Knight, who was born on this day in 1778.

Knight was a gardener to George Hibbert, and he was also a private nursery owner - and a very successful one. His ability to sell plants and feature plants in his welcoming showroom was tremendous. When John Claudius Loudon visited Knight's nursery in 1831, he wrote:

“The effect on entering is excellent; the termination of the telescopic vista being [a] bronze vase... which is about 6 ft. in diameter and weighs several tons, [and] is painted blue on the inside, ... has a very cheerful and elegant appearance."

Loudon reported on a number of plants at Knight's nursery.

On the rhododendron, he wrote:

"So abundant is the honey secreted by [the rhododendron] that when they are shaken, it falls from them like large drops of rain."

On the Knight's orangery, he wrote:

"The mandarin orange, [is] remarkable for its perfume as well as its flavor. It separates from the rind like the kernel of a nut from its shell, without any trouble of peeling or paring, and has been very appropriately designated by the Chinese as the aristocrat of the orange family...

In 1829 after Hibbert retired, Knight received his entire collection of plants, which he added to his nursery called "Knight's Exotic Nursery. Knight used his nursery as a training ground for young gardeners. At the time, Knight's nursery was indeed one of the best in the world.

In addition, Knight was able to obtain plants from explorations he sponsored. Knight had a knack for tending to new plants, and Knight's nursery was a frequent source for specimens featured in the latest botanical magazines.

A little over two decades later, in 1856, Knight's nursery was bought by John Gould Veitch and became the world-famous "Royal Exotic Nursery" after he bought it.

But we remember Joseph Knight for introducing rhododendrons from Nepal, azaleas from China, and the Robin Redbreast bush to the gardens of England. 




#OTD  On this day in 1805, the botanist Robert Brown returned from a four-year expedition to Australia after having found thousands of new plant species.

His work brought him fame and professional opportunities. Brown became the librarian of the Linnean Society. His knowledge of new plant species made it possible for him to write breakthrough papers and books that had to do with plant classification and Australian flora.

Brown also became the Librarian for the Banks herbarium, and he enjoyed the friendship and trust of Joseph Banks. When Banks died in 1820, he left everything to Brown - his herbarium, his library, and even his house.




#OTD On this day in 1868, Cornell University welcomed the very first class of students to the rural campus overlooking Lake Cayuga in Ithaca, New York.

An agricultural land grant university, Cornell was endowed by Ezra Cornell, one of the founders of Western Union Telegraph Co.

There's a funny little story that tells when Ezra Cornell said, "any field, for any person," someone else said: "But then everyone will want to come here." Cornell replied,

"Not when they find out where it is." 

If you happen to be in Ithaca during the growing season, the Botanical Gardens at Cornell University are well worth a visit.

Below Cornell’s campus, is Llenroc, the home that was commissioned by Cornell for himself and his family. Sadly, he died just before it’s completion. And,  in case you're wondering, yes, Llenroc is Cornell spelled backward!

It was Ezra Cornell who said:

"Idleness is to the human mind like rust to iron." 




Unearthed Words

#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the American physician, poet, and humorist, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who died on this day in 1894.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

"Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all. ”

"But friendship is the breathing rose, with sweets in every fold."

Today, when garden writers write about pests in the garden, they often include this quote by Holmes:

"On every stem, on every leaf,... and at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose business it was to devour that particular part."

In 1889, Louise Chandler Moulton published her book of poetry called In the Garden of Dreams. She sent a copy to  Oliver Wendell Holmes, and he wrote her back in a letter dated December 29, 1889:

"I thank you most cordially for sending me your beautiful volume of poems. They tell me that they are breathed from a woman's heart as plainly as the fragrance of a rose reveals its birthplace. ...

I cannot help feeling flattered that the author of such impassioned poems should have thought well enough of my own productions to honor me with the kind words I find on the blank leaf of a little book that seems to me to hold leaves torn out of the heart's record."

Holmes was clearly a sentimentalist. In his poem about the "dear days" of his youth called "No Time Like the Old Time," he wrote:

"There is no time like the old time, when you and I were young,
When the buds of April blossomed and the birds of springtime sung!"





Today's book recommendation: Gardening with Foliage First by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz

Over the years, Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz have designed hundreds of gardens.  The two met at an event where Christina was presenting on unusual foliage combinations.  Karen was sitting in the audience and felt an immediate connection because Christina’s work was so aligned with her own - they both appreciated unique and exciting - even uncommon plant combinations. They quickly realized they had been traveling parallel paths as designers and writers - they were true horticultural kindred spirits. So, their collaboration on Foliage First was a natural output of their connection.

I had the great opportunity to interview Karen and Christina on Episode 603 of the Still Growing Podcast. I mention at the top of that show that Karen and Christina are passionate about something they call the foliage framework. This is their starting point for designing a garden, and they know that it requires a little bit of discipline, a little bit of focus, and lots of practice.  Instead of focusing on the shiny objects - blooms or artistic elements - Karen and Christina know the best foundation for a garden begins with foliage.  Well planned gardens feature foliage that offers year-round color, texture, and interest. Add in blooms and art, and you have a lovely garden.

Karen and Christina’s book is expertly organized with color-coded pages by season: Spring and Summer, Fall and Winter, and also by exposure: Shade or Sun.  

What’s it like when you get two designers to share 127 Dazzling Plant Combinations that Pair the Beauty of Leaves with Flowers, Bark, Berries, and More in a single book? Nirvana.  

This book is for the true garden geeks or the landscape designers on the look for new, practical ideas.   Learn How to Design a Garden with Foliage First with Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz.





Today's Garden Chore

Pot up bulbs for Spring forcing now.

You can pot up a variety of bulbs right now. I like to put together pots with a nice mix- hyacinths, tulips, and crocus. I place them pretty close together in the pots, and then they can either go in the refrigerator in the garage, in a cold frame, or a trench outside. If you use a trench, cover the pots with leaves or straw so that you can easily retrieve them in January or February.




Something Sweet 
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

On this day in 1930, the newspaper in Union Missouri published a short story called "Unique Loyalty" about a little boy who was helping some plant explorers:

"A story was told of a party of EngIish botanists who were spending a summer in the Swiss Alps collecting specimens of rare beauty and considerable value. They started out one morning from a small village and after several hours climb came to a precipice overlooking a green valley dotted with a peculiar flower which examined through field glasses proved to be of unusual value.

From the cliff, on which the party was standing, to the valley, was a sheer drop of several hundred feet. To descend would be impossible and to reach the valley from another approach would mean a waste of several hours.

During the latter part of their climb a small boy had attached himself to the party end had watched with interest the maneuvers of the botanists. After discussing the situation for several minutes, one of the members of the party turned to the boy and said, 'Young fellow, if you'll let us tie a rope around your waist and lower you over this cliff so that you can dig up one of those loose plants for us, and let us pull you back up without harming the plant, we will give you five pounds.'

The boy looked dazed for un instant, then ran off apparently frightened at the prospect of being lowered over the cliff by a rope. But within a short time, he returned - bringing with him an old man bent and gray, with hands gnarled and callused by hard labor. Upon reaching the party of botanists the boy turned to the man who had made the proposal and said. 'Sir, this is my father. I'll go into the valley, if you'll let mv father hold the rope!' The boy probably had confidence in the ability of the botanists to hold the rope, but he had FAITH in his father's protecting care."




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