Today we celebrate the poet who wrote lustrously of Kubla Kahn's summer garden and the French flower breeder who made our favorite plants even more sumptuous with double-flowers.
We learn about the descendant of Olaf Rudbeck, who sought to create a legacy of peace and the rainforest expert who wrote the flora of Mexico.
We'll hear a lovely prayer for Autumn from the poet Rainer Marie Rilke.
Today's Book Recommendation to help you Grow That Garden Library is A Way to Garden by Margaret Roach.
I'll talk about the benefits of buying bagged mulch and then wrap things up with the sweet story of an iconic flower photo from 1967.
Before we get going, I want to say thanks for all the well wishes.
I finally caught this horrible virus that has been making its way through the family. It started with a sore throat, then body aches, and then a cough with no voice. It knocked me out for over a week, and I'm still on the mend. And, I did get my flu shot, but it's one of those years, I guess.
Anyway, I started to use the last few days as I was waiting for my voice to return to incorporate a few new ideas into the show format here so if you're a regular listener you might hear a few new things - you'll have to let me know what you think.
So, I had a little growing zone reinforcement situation happen while I was sick. I had put these baby crotons in a planter out front for fall, and I know they are tropical, and I should have thought to get them inside when I heard the forecast, but they looked so healthy and tough I didn't give them another thought and then bam. Sure enough, that temperature dropped into the thirties overnight, and as I was backing out of the driveway this week going to get more cough syrup - what did I see? All the little crotons (about 8 of them - don't worry, I got them on sale) were collapsed and dead in the planter. I can't tell you how many times I hear from friends this time of year about a houseplant or tropical that get left outside and then looks dead, and then they wonder if it will come back. The answer is usually probably not. But you know, I get that this is sad and we can kick ourselves, but really it's just one more reminder of the constraints we face as gardeners. I know we get by with zone pushing thanks to microclimates, and that feels so great when it works, but every now and then, I'm actually good with a reminder like this about the limits of my zone. It's kind of grounding. It's like - hey, fall is here, and it's serious, and in Minnesota, that means get your houseplants in by October 5 period. Respect
One of the Facebook groups I belong to asked for some tasty side salad Recipes to bring out to the field for the Harvest crew. The suggestions were so good. But, one, in particular, caught my eye. It was for: Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, and the recipe was from the blog Together as a Family. If you love pickles and pickle juice, then this salad is for you. They wrote:
"Dill Pickle Pasta Salad will be an instant favorite! Tender spiral pasta, 2 cups of diced pickles, cheese, and onion covered in a ultra creamy homemade dill dressing with pickle juice."
It is phenomenal! Something different and something the kids actually eat - which is such a bonus. So if you're looking for a fun, new side for your harvest meals, try making the Dill Pickle Pasta Salad:
1 box (16 oz) rotini pasta
1/3 cup dill pickle juice (from the pickle jar)
2 cups chopped baby dill pickles
1 block (8 oz) Colby Jack cheese, cubed small 1 small white onion, finely chopped
Creamy Dill Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup dill pickle juice (from the pickle jar)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon dried dill) 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions. Don't forget to add some salt to the boiling water before adding the pasta. I add about 1 teaspoon, give or take.
Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Add 1/3 cup of the pickle juice to the drained and rinsed pasta and let it sit while you prepare the rest.
(Move the pasta from the colander into a mixing bowl and then add the pickle juice) Chop the dill pickles, and cheese into small cubes/pieces. Finely chop the white onion.
Drain the pasta again that was sitting in the pickle juice. Add it to a large bowl along with the chopped pickles, cheese, and white onion.
In small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and pour over the pasta salad. Stir everything together to combine well. Salad can be eaten right away but I prefer it cold, and if you do too, then cover it and refrigerate it for 1-2 hours.
I would recommend not making this too far ahead of time. For best results serve this salad within a few hours of making it. Either right away or after the refrigeration time. Leftovers do keep well in the fridge (are still delicious) but the dressing thickens up and it's not as "creamy" as when you first make it).
Use any dill pickles you want. I prefer the baby dills cause they are already small in shape so it's easier to chop them small.
For best taste and texture use the real, full-fat mayonnaise. I prefer Best Foods OR Hellman's brand. If you want some heat then add a pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper to the dressing.
Any cheese or pasta can be used in this recipe but after testing it out, rotini and Colby Jack cheese taste the best in this salad.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was born on this day in 1772.
Along with his friend, William Wordsworth, Coleridge started the Romantic Movement and was a member of the Lake Poets, a group of English poets who lived in the Lake District of England during the first half of the nineteenth century.
Coleridge felt that taxonomy was a sort of poetry. He wrote that taxonomy was “the best words in the best order.”
In his poem called Youth and Age, Coleridge wrote,
"Flowers are lovely; Love is flower-like;
Friendship is a sheltering tree;"
Kubla Khan's Summer Garden at Xanadu is the subject of Coleridge's 1797 poem Kubla Khan, one of his most famous works. The poem begins by describing Kahn's palace and the garden contrasted with the setting of the ancient Mongolian forest.
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the French flower breeder Victor Lemoine, who was born on this day in 1823.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Lemoine for enhancing the beauty of so many flowers in our gardens: lilacs, mock-oranges, phlox, peonies, gladiolus, tuberous begonias, geraniums, and deutzias.
Around the year 1850, Lemoine borrowed money from his gardener father and began a nursery that survived three generations thanks to his son Emile and his grandson Henri. The Lemoine nursery thrived on land bought in Nancy, France (pronounced "non-cee"). A few years later, Lemoine created his first double-flower; the Portulaca grandiflora or Moss Ross. As with so many of Lemoine's creations, the double-flower created double the beauty.
In 1854, Lemoine turned the original five-petaled single blossom of the geranium into a double-flowered stunner he called "Gloire de Nancy" or "Glory of Nancy."
Northern gardeners owe Lemoine a debt of gratitude for his work with peonies. He crossed the Paeonia wittmanniana with the Siberian albaflora; creating a peony that could withstand a winter freeze. Lemoine created some of our most memorable heirlooms: the white Le Cygne or Swan peony, the Primevere with creamy white outer guard petals, and packed with canary yellow petals inside, the blush-colored Solange peony, the pink Sarah Bernhardt, La Fee the Fairy peony, and the creamy-white Alsace-Lorraine peony.
But, it is the lilac that will forever be associated with Lemoine. Incredibly, Lemoine didn't start working on Lilacs until he was almost fifty. That said, Lemoine's wife, Marie Louise, was his tireless assistant when his eyes and fine-motor skills were failing. She hand-pollinated the little lilac flowers and aided both her husband and her son with hybridizing.
Lemoine worked magic with his lilacs. He made them bloom earlier and later. He improved the quality of the bloom, and he expanded their color spectrum. He grew the very first double lilac. By the time the Lemoine nursery closed its doors in 1968, the Lemoine's had bred 214 new cultivars of Lilac.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the Swede Alfred Nobel, who was born on this day in 1833.
Gardeners are often surprised to learn that Nobel was a descendant of the botanist Olof Rudbeck.
Nobel believed in peace and the goodness of humanity. At the same time, he recognized the destructive power of his scientific inventions. After Alfred's brother died, a newspaper accidentally published the obituary under Alfred's name. The experience was a defining moment for Nobel. He decided to craft a legacy of peace and made arrangements in his will to create the Nobel Prizes in Science, Literature, and Peace. The Nobel Prize ceremony is held every year on December 10th on the anniversary of his death.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the Mexican botanist Arturo Gómez-Pompa who was born on this day in 1934.
As one of the world's top authorities on rain forests, Gómez-Pompa founded the Tropical Research Center. He is remembered for his flora of Mexico and his tireless work on conservation.
Here's a prayer for Autumn from the Prague-born poet Rainer Maria Rilke:
"Lord, it is time.
The summer was very big.
Lay thy shadow on the sundials, and on the meadows let the winds go loose.
Command the last fruits that they shall be full;
give them another two more southerly days, press them on to fulfillment
and drive the last sweetness into the heavenly wine."
The subtitle is A Hands-On Primer for Every Season. This book just came out in April of this year, and it's one of my favorites. The pictures are to-die-for. If this book doesn't make you want to garden, I don't know what will.
I also wanted to read a little excerpt that I found extremely timely. What I love about Margaret is that she is so real about what it's like to garden:
"Mad Stash: Overwintering Tender Plants
I am asked two questions over and over again by visitors: "Where did you get that plant?" and "Where do you put all those big pots of tender things in winter?" My reply to the second part begins with a question: Are you ready for an adventure?
Unless you operate a climate-controlled greenhouse - and even then, if the power fails - matching non-hardy plants to the possibilities of our domestic winter environment, especially in a northern location, is indeed an exploration.
I have been experimenting for years with stashing tender plants in the cellar, garage, house, mudroom – wherever I can – to try to turn each purchase into an investment plant. Before I go attempting any real heroics, though... I ask if there’s a way to carry over a piece of each instead, as seeds or by taking late summer cuttings and say Coleus or Pelargonium and rooting them - or simply by digging up tubers or bulbs and stashing those?"
Today's Garden Chore - Improving your garden one actionable tip at a time.
Buy some bagged mulch for handiness and ease.
Compared to loose mulch, bagged mulch is less labor-intensive and messy. For people with physical challenges, bagged mulch is way easier to use, stack, and store. Bags of mulch are manageable to carry and cart around. At the end of the season, when just a little mulch is needed here and there, you'll be glad to have a small stockpile.
The gardening expert Thalassa Cruso wrote:
"The mulch you lay down will protect your perennial plants during the winter and feed the soil as it decays, while the cleaned up flower bed will give you a huge head start on either planting seeds or setting out small plants."
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
It was on this day in 1967 that 100,000 demonstrators attend the March on the Pentagon.
It was one of the most massive demonstrations of the Vietnam War.
A 17-year-old high school girl named Jan Rose Kasmir walked up to a row of soldiers holding rifles with bayonets. Kasmir courageously stood directly in front of the bayonets. She held a single chrysanthemum bloom in her hands. The little daisy-like flower was the only thing between Kasmir's face and the tip of a blade.
This image, known as the flower girl, became one of the most iconic photos of the Vietnam War era.
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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