Does your Christmas Cactus have red on its leaves?
If so, that red is an indication that the plant is stressed out.
#OTD On this day in 1887 the Los Angeles Herald ran an interview with the superintendent of the botanical gardens William Smith about the senators in Washington during the 1880's who had a passion for plants.
Senator Charles Sumner from Massachusetts was a great enthusiast... He used to tell me that when traveling he would peer out of the car windows by the hour, on the lookout for a beautiful tree, and when his eye for the lovely and symmetrical was satisfied he would go into raptures. ... The last enjoyment I had with him, shortly before he died, was in visiting a favorite elm of his own Boston Common.Senator John James Ingalls, of Kansas, ...is a most devoted student of arboriculture. Some of the most valuable suggestions about distributing plants in the west come from him.Senator William Pitt Fessenden, of Maine, was an ardent apostle [of gardening] all through his long public life. I remember that his wife had a sweet verbena in their home in Maine, of which she was very fond. She watched it tenderly as a child, and Mr. Fessenden shared the feeling so thoroughly that for thirteen sears ho would journey home from Washington to take up the plant in autumn and make another trip in the springtime to set it out. No pressure of public business could make him forget that verbena. It was really a paternal devotion.Senator James A Pearce, of Maryland, was one of the most cultivated botanists ever in Congress. Scarcely a day passed that he did not drop in on me to watch the growth of some favorite plant or some new experiment, and his ideas were always scientific and valuable.And then there was Senator Benjamin Gratz Brown from Missouri, a very warm lover of flowers and a thorough master of their cultivation. During all the time he was in the Senate I don't believe he missed a day at the garden, and we would chat for hours when he felt in the humor.There's another botanist in Congress,... I know the name will surprise you— Senator William Steele Holman, of Indiana ... It seems almost a contradiction that one of his reputation should be a lover of flowers, but he certainly is. No one has been in Congress since I can remember, and that's a long time, with a more hearty and intelligent love for the garden. He is a frequent visitor [of the botanical garden], and you can see from his conversation that he watches every new phase of the science as keenly as he does the money bags of the treasury. It seems to be a mental exhilaration for him to commune with these curious plants from all over the world, and study their hidden life. He is quite as familiar with the botanical names and the habits of plants and flowers as most professional botanists. He picked it up as a recreation and his spare time is nearly all devoted to it.Senator Samuel Sullivan "Sunset" Cox is a first-class botanist, but let me add that he's also the best reader that I ever met. He is a walking cyclopedia on every subject covered by books. ... But then, this doesn't apply to his botany alone; it's the same with everything else. He can learn more in shorter time than any man I ever saw.
#OTD On this day in 1899, Augustine Henry wrote to his friend the designer Evelyn Gleeson after meeting Ernest Henry Wilson for the first time.
Toward the end of his time in China, Augustine Henry living in the Simao District in the Yunnan Province of China. He knew that the flora of China was an untapped market for European horticulture. Meanwhile, a young botanist named Ernest Henry Wilson was just starting out.
I have ... a guest of all the things in the world at Szemao, a Mr. Wilson, late a gardener at Kew, who has been sent out by Veitch's to collect plants or rather their seeds and bulbs in China. He has made his way here to consult with me on best way of procedure and concerning the interesting country around Ichang and he will stay here 2 or 3 weeks. He is a self-made man, knows botany thoroughly, is young and will get on.
Henry also shared with Evelyn that he,
"would be glad if [Wilson] will continue to carry on the work in China which has been on my shoulders for some years. There is so much of interest and of novelty."
Later the same day, Henry also reported back to Kew about the progress of their new, young plant explorer, Wilson:
"[He will] do, I think, as he seems very energetic, fond of his botany and level-headed, the main thing for traveling and working in China.... [I wrote] on a half-page of a notebook ... a sketch of a tract of country about the size of New York State [on which I marked the place where I had found the single tree of Davidia involucrata (the Dove Tree or Handkerchief Tree) in 1888. I also provided Wilson with useful information and hints.]"
Henry and Wilson stayed close and corresponded for the rest of their lives. Wilson went on to find the Dove tree - but that is another story for a day dedicated to Wilson. As for Henry, when he returned to his native Ireland, his was increasingly concerned with de-forestation in his home country and he began to study forestry.
the rate at which that country was being deforested, his interests had turned to the study of forestry. In 1913, he became the first professor of forestry at the Royal College of Science for Ireland. He and his wife, Elsie opened their Dublin home to famous friends like Yeats, George Russell, Erskine Childers and Evelyn Gleeson.
Henry is regarded as the father of Irish commercial forestry.
Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, came up with the idea for the park. She remembered how she and Lennon took strolls through that section of Central Park after they moved to the Dakota nearly 10 years ago.
"It is our way of taking a sad song and making it better," said Ono.
Originally, the concept called for every nation donate a remembrance to Strawberry Fields. Soon, Ms. Ono and the New York City Parks and Recreation Commission found themselves dealing with trees that couldn't grow in a northern climate.
A second request, along with tips about what would survive New York winters, brought 150 specimens from countries around the world; England sent an English Oak tree, Canada a Maple tree.
There was one notable exception to the list of participating countries - the United States. Sadly, President Reagan White House never acknowledged the request.
The memorial park site was made possible by a $1 million donation from Ono to the city. It didn't cost taxpayers a dime.
"Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."
- Elizabeth Lawrence
"October is nature's funeral month. Nature glories in death more than in life. The month of departure is more beautiful than the month of coming - October than May. Every green thin loves to die in bright colors."
- Henry Ward Beecher
Today's Garden Chore
As fall dieback sets in, it's a marvelous time to plant climbers and vines.
One that should be on the top of your list for shady areas is the Schizophragma hydrangeoides (the Japanese hydrangea vine) or the Hydrangea petiolaris climbing hydrangea.
Although the two look similar, they are both Asiatic vines, they are different and once you see them, you'll forever be able to tell them apart. In the Hydrangea, which is more hardy, the flowers create a tiara. In the Schizophragma, the petals are more white and appear individual and not in fours. Gardeners need to know that Schizophragma blooms later in the season. It looks neater and cleaner than the climbing hydrangea.
If you plant either vine, be prepared to wait a bit. It takes three years for them to really get going; but once they are established the flower show is spectacular.
#OTD On this day in 1931, The Arnold Arboretum sent Beatrix Farrand Schizophragma hydrangeoides (climbing hydrangea) at her summer home called Reef Point. Ferrand gushed:
"This grew marvelously up to the second-floor windows on the north comer of the garden house, only outdone in magnificence by two big Hydrangea petiolaris, which clambered to more than thirty feet."
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
On this day in 1947, The Times out of Streator, Illinois, shared a story called Ailment of 2 Boys Solved by Botanist.
Here's what it said:
"Two eight-year-old boys gave their parents a bad time when they fell victims to raging fevers and hallucinations in which weird animals stalked across the ceiling. The frantic parents summoned psychiatrists, but it was a botanist Dr. [Otto Emery Jennings] of the University of Pittsburgh who finally solved the mystery.
Dr. Jennings said yesterday, the boys had nibbled on some jimsonweed found on a vacant lot near their homes. The plant - famed in cowboy songs and history books - has seeds containing a substance used in medicine and which produce fever and delirium."
"The Jamestown Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru... was gathered ... for a boiled salad, by some of the soldiers sent thither to quell the rebellion of Bacon ...Some of them ate plentifully of it, the effect of which was a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days:One would blow up a feather in the air;Another would dart straws at it with much fury;And another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making [grimaces] at them; A fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and then sneer in their faces ...
In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, ... destroy themselves — though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature.[Although], they were not very cleanly;A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after eleven days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed."
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