October 30, 2019 Aging Gardeners, Healthy Food, Piet Oudolf, Alfred Sisley, George Plummer Burns, Cherry Ingram, Alice Eastwood, A Song of October, She Sheds Style by Erika Kotite, Leaf Compost Bin, and Elizabeth Lawrence

Today we celebrate the impressionist Landscape painter who included kitchen gardens as a subject and the botanist who gave a speech in 1916 about his four rules of home landscaping.

We'll learn about the English botanist who saved many varieties of Japanese cherry from extinction and the botanist who braved the destruction of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to save plant specimens.

We'll hear the Poem called "A Song of October" that debuted in 1890.

We Grow That Garden Library with THE book on She Sheds.

I'll talk about making a simple leaf compost bin, and then we'll wrap things up with a poignant diary entry by the quintessential southern gardener Elizabeth Lawrence.


But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.


Mother Earth News recently shared a post called When Age and Illness Invade the Homestead.

The article asks this question:

"How do you cope when long-term illness or a chronic health condition, even just aging, becomes a factor?"

Gardeners need to consider:

  1. Reassessing and prioritizing their space. Maybe you don’t need such a big garden space at this point in your life. Is it time to consider going small?
  2. Adapt and compensate with new ideas like elevated beds.
  3. Take more breaks when you are working.
  4. Farm it out - get help, so you don't overdo it.



The Guardian just shared the results of research that shows that a healthy diet means a healthy planet.

The research showed that,

"fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains were best for both avoiding disease and protecting the climate and water resources."

Michael Clark at the University of Oxford, who led the study, said:

“Choosing better, more sustainable diets is one of the main ways people can improve their health and help protect the environment.”

So there you go: growing your own food, gardening, is not only good for you - it's better for the planet.



Finally, Gardenista just shared an excellent article called 10 Perennial Gardens Inspired by Piet Oudolf.

Oudolf's signature look includes soft drifts of grasses combined with striking perennials that look good even in winter. Oudolf's goal is getting all of it to work together to create dream landscapes that evoke a natural look.

Gardenista did a great job of sharing ten images of different gardens that understand the Oudolf formula, and they created installations inspired by his work.

When it comes to picking which perennials to include in the garden, Oudolf sees perennials through a lens that is focused on architectural elements. He's looking at the shape and the lines of the plant - but he's also incorporating the full life cycle of the plant. He wants to incorporate the way perennials look not only in early spring and summer but also in the fall and even in the winter. Seed heads, pods, dried blossoms, and stems; these are all embraced and part of the plan. So don't be too quick to tidy everything up in the garden. Especially when it comes to winter gardens, you've got to leave enough standing so that you have something to look at.



If you'd like to learn more about Oudolf, I shared a great video in the Facebook Group from PBS that was featured in April of this year. The reporter, Jeffrey Brown, met with Oudolf at his home in the Netherlands to discuss his work.


Now, if you'd like to check out these curated articles for yourself, you're in luck - because I share all of it with the Listener Community in the Free Facebook Group - The Daily Gardener Community. So there’s no need to take notes or track down links - just head on over to the group the next time you're on Facebook, just search for: The Daily Gardener Community and request to join.





#OTD Today is the birthday of Alfred Sisley, who was born on this day in 1839.

Sisley was an impressionist landscape painter. He painted landscapes almost exclusively, and he especially loved natural, untouched scenes. Gardeners enjoy his paintings called A Garden Path and The Kitchen Garden.



#OTD Today is the birthday of the botanist George Plummer Burns who was born on this day in 1871.

Burns was the chairman of the UVM botany department. He also had served as the superintendent of the park department for Burlington, Vermont. When I was researching Burns, I stumbled on a newspaper clipping from 1916, which shared a speech he gave to the Rutland Woman's Club called Landscape Gardening for the Home.

He gave four rules for landscaping:

"1.Avoid straight lines;

2. Keep open spaces;

3. Plant in mass;

4. Use common sense.


Burns gave this advice about shrubs:

Do not use a shrub simply because a man wants to sell it to you.

Do not use a shrub or tree simply because your neighbor has one, and if you do, do not use it in the same way.

After the house is built shrubs should be planted around the base to soften the lines. Next, a hedge should be placed around the' lot so that the owner, in looking from his place, can see the skyline and have the immediate surroundings hidden. In that way, a person owns as far as he can see.


And, we get a little glimpse into Burns' personal preferences when he said:

Never spoil a lawn by cutting a circular bed and filling it in with cannas. Such art is like putting a da ub of paint on a beautiful picture. Cannas are all right in their place but not in beds on a lawn.

Shrubs should always be planted in mass and never should a single root be set; not one rosebush but 20 should be set out."



#OTD Today is the birthday of the British botanist Collingwood "Cherry" Ingram, who was born on this day in 1880.

Since he was a child, Ingram was obsessed with cherry blossoms. He spent most of his adult life devoted to their cultivation and preservation.

In 1926, Ingram traveled to Japan, hoping to find new varieties of cherry trees. Instead, Ingram witnessed a sharp decline in cherry diversity. The usual suspects played a role: loss of habitat and a lack of attention. But there was also a more significant danger posed by a new, pervasive ideology. As it turned out, the Imperial stance had changed, and the emperor wanted his people to grow just one variety of cherry in a symbolic way to unite the nation of Japan.

At the time, the preferred cherry blossom was the pink Somei-yoshino. The emperor had outlawed all white-blossomed cherry trees. The new law was especially tragic to Ingram, who was partial to the white-blossomed cherry tree.

In response to Japan's declining cherry diversity, Ingram personally cultivated and grew 50 varieties of cherry that were slowly phasing out on the Island of Japan. Wisely, Ingram brought specimens home with him to the island of England, where Ingram's work with cherries made him a world expert. Thanks to Ingram's foresight and preservation efforts, he was able to reintroduce the Great White Cherry Tree to Japan.



#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the Canadian American self-taught botanist Alice Eastwood who died on this day in 1953.

Eastwood is remembered for saving almost 1500 specimens from a burning building following the San Francisco earthquake in 1906.

Afterward, she wrote about the specimens that didn't make it:

“I do not feel the loss to be mine, but it is a great loss to the scientific world and an irreparable loss to California. My own destroyed work I do not lament, for it was a joy to me while I did it, and I can still have the same joy in starting it again.”

An account of Eastwood's heroics was recorded by Carola DeRooy, who wrote :

"On the day of the 1906 earthquake, Alice Eastwood, curator of Botany at the California Academy of Sciences, rushed straight into the ruins of downtown San Francisco as a firestorm swept toward her beloved Academy building. Arriving to find the stone steps dangerously crumbled, she and a friend nevertheless climbed the metal spiral staircase to the 6th florr with a single-minded mission: to rescue what she could of the largest botanical collection in the Western United States, her life's work.

Eastwood saved 1,497 plant type specimens from the Academy, but lost the remainder of the collections to the all-consuming fire. Just three days later, she joined Geologist GK Gilbert to inspect a fault trace resulting from the earthquake, north of Olema, within what is now the Point Reyes National Seashore."

That moment with Gilbert at the fault line was memorialized forever in a captivating photo featuring Alice standing next to the surface ruption of the fault line. Eastwood was 47 years old when the quake hit in 1906.

After the fire, Eastwood set her mind to rebuilding the herbarium, and over the next four decades, she collected 300,000 specimens. She retired as the curator at the age of 90. Eastwood was the protégée of the botanist Kate Brandegee.

Unearthed Words

The alder wears its scarlet beads,

The clematis its downy seeds,

The sumach's deepening ruby gleams,

The birch in hues of topaz beams;

In golden bars through leafy doors

The sunshine falls on forest floors,

While the warm air with balsam breathes

A spicy odor from the trees.

The softened light, the veiling haze,

The calm repose of autumn days,

Steal gently o'er the troubled breast,

Soothing life's weary cares to rest

~Phebe A. Holder, "A Song of October," in The Queries Magazine, October 1890


It's time to Grow That Garden Library with today's book recommendation: She Sheds Style by Erika Kotite

The subtitle of this book is Make Your Space Your Own, and it came out a year ago on October 2nd.

Erika's book is eye-candy and ideas and inspiration for anyone who has ever wanted their own little place in the garden. You could say, Erika shed’s light on the topic of She Sheds. 🙂

Whether you already have a shed or are still dreaming of one, this book is a total charmer. It's filled with incredible photos of outbuildings that women have turned into the ultimate garden space, a She Shed. The decorating ideas are perfect for those gardeners looking to brighten up their workspace or increase the functionality of their She Shed.

Erika shares how to incorporate architectural details and style. She shares ideas for color palettes. There are dozens of projects in this book as well - from repurposing old furniture to installing personalized art for your shed. Another fantastic feature of the book is that Ericka has gathered hundreds of tips from She Shed owners from around the country.

Best of all, Erika is a former editor for Romantic Homes/Victorian Homes. So, her photos have that floral, romantic quality to them.

She Sheds are notoriously creative and intelligent spaces - often serving multiple purposes - and always evolving. How lovely it is, to have a book like this, that shares some of the best ideas and She Shed spaces from around the country.




Today's Garden Chore

If you have extra leaves, make a simple leaf compost bin.

Leaf mold is an excellent way to improve your soil. It is also an excellent weed suppressant and mulch. To make your bin, simply place four tall garden stakes in the ground and then use netting or burlap to wrap around the outside of the stakes. As you add leaves into the bin, make sure to layer in some moisture by watering the leaves. Watering the leaves helps stimulate decomposition. You can also add some coffee grounds while you're at it - if you feel so inclined. Then, in the spring, you'll have wonderful compost for your garden.



Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart


Bonaro Overstreet once wrote,

"Autumn asks that we prepare for the future —that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go—to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness."

This little saying had me thinking of the gardener Elizabeth Lawrence. In late October of 1935, Elizabeth was visiting her father in the hospital. She wrote the following poem in her notebook during her visit:

My father lies dying,

And all that he has said

Begins to sprout,

Begins to grow.

Is branching overhead.

My father lies dying,

And all that he has said

Will bud and blossom and bear fruit

Long after he is dead.

Samuel Lawrence lived another nine months after Elizabeth wrote these words. He passed away on July 16, 1936.


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

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