Today we celebrate the gardener who had his home and garden trashed by the Russian Czar and the poet who wrote one of his most famous poems under the plum tree in his garden.
We'll learn about the American Landscape Architect who never lived to see the big park he dreamed of, and we'll learn about the horticulturist who created the first International Flower show in NYC.
We'll hear the October Poem about woodbines (or honeysuckle).
We Grow That Garden Library with an herb-based cookbook.
I'll talk about late-season cover crops (and no, it's not too late), and then we'll have a witty article about shortening tall sunflowers.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
The midwife and physician Tieraona Low Dog over at Medicine Lodge Ranch recently wrote a post called 4 Important Herbs for Women and Their Health.
The list may surprise you: raspberries, nettles, ladies mantle, and sage.
With regard to raspberry and nettles, Dr. Low Dog recommends using the leaves to make a tea.
With the nettles, in particular, Dr. Low Dog cooks them just like she would spinach. She steams the nettles for 15 minutes and then sautés them in a little olive oil with garlic and salt.
Dr. Low Dog reminds us that the Latin word for lady's mantle Alchemilla stems from the Arabic word for alchemy. Historically people believed lady's mantle leaves were a fantastic source of water. Like the raspberry and nettles, this herb can be used as an herbal tea.
Last but not least, sage should be used by women who are making the transition into their sage years. Sage can ease the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats. And a cup of sage tea can help you sleep at night. So, bottom's up.
In honor of Halloween, I wanted to share this fun post from Art's Nursery Garden & Home that was shared back in 2014 the title of the post was 10 excellent plants with black foliage
Here’s the list:
- Black Lace Elderberry
- Sambucus ‘Black Tower’
- Black Mondo Grass
- Black Scallop Ajuga
- Dark Horse Weigela
- Fine Wine Weigela
- Brunette Snakeroot
- Platt's Black New Zealand Flax
- Purple Copper Beech
Rebecca van der Zalm did an excellent job describing all of these plants in this post.
If you’d like to check out her detailed descriptions of each of these plants, just head on over to the Facebook group for the show - The Daily Gardener Community - and search for the words "black foliage."
On this day in 2011, the United Nations reported that the world population had reached 7,000,000,000.
Twelve years earlier, on this day in 1999, the newspaper out of Appleton Wisconsin reported that the population had reached the 6,000,000,000 mile mark - so we gained 1 billion In a dozen years. In that newspaper article, a botanist from the University of Wisconsin shared the state of botany.
About Wisconsin, in particular, the botanist warned that in 20 or 30 years and will have the climate of Iowa much drier and warmer.
According to current projections, the global population will hit 8 billion in 2024. And it will reach 9 billion by 2042.
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 the English Gardner and writer John Evelyn who was born on this day in 1620.
Evelyn kept a detailed diary for 66 years, and he had an excellent understanding of trees. In 1664, Evelyn wrote a treaty called A Discourse of Forest Trees. It was basically an appeal to his fellow countrymen to plant trees. The English Navy was growing, and they desperately needed timber to build more ships.
Over his lifetime, Evelyn updated his Discourse of Forest Trees a total of three more times; the final edition was released immediately after his death.
In honor of Thanksgiving, which is now less than a month away, let me share this excellent quote by Evelyn about the benefits of chestnuts:
"Chestnuts are delicacies for princes and a lusty and masculine food for rustics, and able to make women well-complexioned."
Evelyn had a devoted passion for gardening. And, here's a little known fact: Evelyn was the first garden author to publish a book about salads (or Sallets). Listen to the benefits of salad as described by Evelyn:
"By reason of its soporiferous quality, lettuce ... still continues the principal foundation of the universal tribe of Sallets, which is to cool and refresh, besides its other properties... including beneficial influences on morals, temperance, and chastity."
(FYI: Soporiferous means Inducing or tending to induce sleep. Some lettuce secretes lactucarium - a milky fluid found in the base of the lettuce stems. It is known as lettuce opium because of its sedative and pain-relieving properties. It has also been reported to promote a mild sensation of euphoria.)
It was John Evelyn who wrote:
"The gardener’s work is never at end, it begins with the year and continues to the next. He prepares the ground, and then he plants, and then he gathers the fruits."
"Gardening is a labour full of tranquility and satisfaction; natural and instructive, and as such contributes to the most serious contemplation, experience, health and longevity."
Bear in mind Evelyn's appreciation for the amount of work a garden requires as I tell you this little story about him.
In 1698, John Evelyn had owned his estate for 40 years. Everyone who knew it said it was magnificent - both inside and out. It was decorated to the nines. Of all that he owned, Evelyn’s garden was his pride and joy.
That year, the Russian Czar, Peter the Great, brought an entourage of 200 people to England to visit William III. In a gesture of hospitality, William volunteered John Evelyn‘s home to host the Czar and his people during their visit. Evelyn and his wife graciously moved out to give the Czar his privacy.
Well, it wasn’t long before Evelyn‘s servants began sending him urgent messages begging him to return.
When Evelyn came home, he walked into a nightmare. The whole estate had been trashed. Priceless paintings had served as dartboards. His floors were ruined, windows were smashed; even the garden was destroyed.
The servants told how the 6'8 Czar had played a game with his friends, where they put him in one of Evelyn's wheel barrels and then raced him through the garden beds, crashing into walls, trees, and hedges. It was a complete disregard for the sanctity of Evelyn's garden. For twenty years, Evelyn had nursed along a hedge of holly that had turned into a glorious living wall. It was ruined. The party even managed to knock down part of the stone wall that surrounded the garden.
It must have been a scene akin to the movie Animal House.
Evelyn immediately sent word to the king about what had happened, and arrangements were made straight away to move the czar to other lodgings. King William settled with Evelyn to have his property restored - his home needed to be gutted and rebuilt from the floors up.
John Evelyn was 78 years old when this happened to him. I'm sure there was no amount of restitution that could restore the years of love he had spent in his garden. He lived for another eight years before dying in 1706.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the English romantic lyric poet John Keats who was born in 1795.
During his short life, (Keats died from tuberculosis at the age of 25), his poems didn’t make much of a mark.
But after his death, Keat's reputation grew, and today, he is considered one of the world’s most beloved poets.
Keats wrote his famous Ode to a Nightingale after hearing a nightingale singing in his garden. History records that Keats was sitting under a plum tree, and he scribbled the lines to the poem in a notebook. Then, he tore the pages out, and they are now preserved in a museum.
Another famous poem by Keats is Ode to Autumn. Keats came up with this poem 200 years ago while walking to the hospital of St. Cross. The most famous verse is:
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun."
My personal favorite verse is:
"Later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease."
Keats reflected on his Ode to Autumn in a letter to his friend, John Reynolds, saying:
"How beautiful the season is now — How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it.
Really, without joking, chaste weather — Dian skies — I never liked stubble-fields so much as now — Aye better than the chilly green of the Spring.
Somehow, a stubble-field looks warm — in the same way that some pictures look warm. This struck me so much in my Sunday’s walk that I composed upon it."
Today, you can visit the John Keats home. It's an impeccable white Georgian villa, and it is the place where Keats wrote many of his best-loved poems. If you're ever in London, just search for Keats House and gardens. It has awesome reviews on Trip Advisor.
#OTD Today is the birthday of Andrew Jackson Downing, who was born on this day in 1815.
Downing was an American horticulturist and the author of The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America, which came out in 1845. He also served as the editor of a magazine called The Horticulturist.
Regarded as one of the founders of American Landscape Architecture, Downing used his work in The Horticulturist magazine as a platform for advancing his pet causes. It was Downing who first came up with the idea for a New York park. His dream became the park we know today: Central Park. Downing also advocated for individual states to create schools devoted to agriculture - that hope became a reality as well.
In 1846, when the National Mall in Washington DC was run down and neglected, it was Downing who came up with plans to revive the space. Downing's plans were in vivid contrast to the original plans for the mall. When the Frenchman Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed the mall in 1791, he had envisioned a grand avenue. Downing’s vision was simpler. He was not a fan of the rigidity or formality found in European gardens. Downin g wanted to create a public museum of living trees and shrubs, or at least that’s what he called it. Instead of a grand avenue, Downing designed four separate parks that were connected by curving walkways and featuring many different trees.
Sadly, Downing's plans were never fully funded or carried out. In the summer of 1852, Downing boarded a steamship called The Henry Clay. At some point, the steamship got into a race with another boat called The Armenia. When the steamship began to overheat, a fire broke out in the engine room. Onboard The Henry Clay happened to be a woman Downing had dated before his marriage. When he jumped in the water to save this woman, she panicked and couldn't stop flailing around, and they both drowned.
Before Downing had attempted to save the woman, he had thrown deck chairs off of the top of the boat. Downing thought the chairs could be used by people as flotation devices. He was right. As fate would have it, Downing‘s wife Carolyn survived the disaster by holding on to one of those deck chairs. It was a small consolation to her for the loss of her husband.
Downing was just 36 years old when he died.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of Richard Morris Hunt, who was an American architect during the gilded age.
Gardeners know Hunt for his collaborations with the Frederick Law Olmsted. They worked together on the Vanderbilt mausoleum and the Chicago world‘s fair. Their ultimate collaboration occurred in Asheville, North Carolina, where they worked together to design the gardens, house, and manor village for the Biltmore Estate.
When he was alive, Hunt wanted to elevate public taste in design and the arts, but he was also flexible enough to meet them where they were. It was Richard Morris Hunt who said,
"The first thing you've got to remember is that it's your clients' money you're spending. Your goal is to achieve the best results by following their wishes. If they want you to build a house upside down standing on its chimney, it's up to you to do it."
#OTD On this day in 1913, the horticulturist Charles Totty received a medal from the New York Horticultural Society for developing a new rose called "Shell Pink Shawyer."
Totty immigrated to the United States from England. He was known as CH to his friends
Totty was a shrewd businessman. On April Fools’ Day 1903, he bought a greenhouse business in Madison, New Jersey. Then he opened up a florist shop Called Totty's flowers on Fifth Avenue in New York. Totty was responsible for establishing the First International Flower Show in New York City. Totty himself won thousands of awards at American flower shows, and he was credited with introducing the chrysanthemum to America.
Totty's success was owed in part to the support of his wife and their daughter Helen.
In 1930, at the beginning of the great depression, Totty spoke to a group of New England flower growers. He encouraged growers to “pull up your belts and go to it," continuing to grow their businesses during the depression. Totty said that,
"it was up to the growers to open up new avenues for their products and that publicity stunts that gave away flowers cheapened [the industry]. He cautioned that no other trade gave away anything of value so why should florists?"
In 2017, the century-old Shakespeare-themed garden at the College of Saint Elizabeth was in desperate need of a makeover. In researching the history of the garden, the school discovered that it had been visited by Charles Totty, who heaped praise on the garden's design saying:
"No Shakespeare garden in the world, not even the one at Avon, the birthplace of the poet, quite reaches the beauty and perfection of ... St. Elizabeth’s.”
"Corn and grain, corn and grain,
All that falls shall rise again."
- Wiccan Harvest Chant
Woodbines in October
As dyed in blood, the streaming vines appear,
While long and low the wind about them grieves;
The heart of autumn must have broken here
And poured Its treasure out upon the leaves.
~ By Charlotte Fiske Bates
This book is part of my Marge Clark cookbook collection. Her recipes are wonderful, and her cookbooks are beautiful. The 410 pages in this cookbook incorporate herbs from the garden. Clark was a gardener, so her cookbooks include all kinds of growing information and plant history. Clark's recipes are organized by the main herb used. Her Lemon Verbena pound cake and her Roasted Marinated Pepper Salad are personal favorites of mine.
Today's Garden Chore
Plant Late-Season, Cold Hardy Cover Crops in your kitchen or herb garden.
If you've never tried a cover crop, you're in for a treat. Cover crops keep the soil aerated, and they add a layer of protection to your beds in freezing weather. Best of all, cover crops add nutrients and nitrogen back into the soil. They’re one of the best shoulder season activities you can do in your garden.
Even when you have a cold fall like we do this year. You can still plant cover crops late - even after the first frost. Thankfully, cover crops germinate quickly - think 7-10 days. So amp up your soil health with cover crops now - your kitchen garden will thank you in the spring.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
On this day in 1986, The Tribune out of Seymour Indiana shared a post about making sunflowers shorter:
"A North Dakota botanist has discovered that a herbicide can retard the height of sunflowers. Being easier to harvest can make the crop more profitable. [He] should write a book: "How to Make Money in a Declining Stalk Market."
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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