November 13, 2019 Coleus Cuttings, Air Plants, Make a Christmas Seedhead Wreath, Robert Louis Stevenson, Frederick Lueders, Chrysanthemum Show, Howard Scott Gentry, Square Foot Gardening 3rd Edition, Houseplant Spa Day, and Bedding Plants as Wealth Indicators

Today we celebrate the writer who dedicated his book called A Child's Garden of Verses to his childhood nurse and the German botanist who lost all of his work in the Columbia River.

We'll learn about the big chrysanthemum show of 1916 in our Nation's capital and the botanist who was one with Agaves.

We'll hear some November poetry.

We Grow That Garden Library with a book now in its 3rd edition from the man who loved to say "Happy Gardening, friends."

I'll talk about setting up a regular spa day for your Houseplants, and then we'll wrap things up with a little something Jane Powers wrote back in 2010 that I think was just so incredibly cool and memorable.

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


Today's Curated Articles:

Coleus Cuttings | @WDCGardener

I can't think of anyone I'd rather learn to take Coleus Cuttings from than @WDCGardener and her cat Santino - who is THE master when it comes to supervising cuttings. Btw Santino means "little saint" Aw... 


Recommended Air Plants | HEIRLOOM GARDENER

Know Thy Air Plants -

Here's a nice little post from Heirloom Gardener to help you Tell Your Air Plants Apart.

My favorite? Tillandsia xerographica - “Queen of Tillandsias.”

I recently saw one in a wedding bouquet. Long Live the Queen!


Make a Christmas seedhead wreath | @GardensIllustrated

I. Cannot. Stand. How. Adorable. This. IS! Just when I thought I was out of the garden... you pull me back in! @GardensIllustrated came up with this adorable project - Make a Christmas seedhead wreath. I love this idea for the She Shed at the cabin.

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 - the next time you're on Facebook, just search for Daily Gardener Community and request to join. I'd love to meet you in the group.




#OTD   Today is the birthday of Scottish-born writer and poet Robert Louis Stevenson, who was born on this day in 1850.

Stevenson sickly little boy with no brothers or sisters. When he was just a toddler, a woman named Alison Cunningham was brought into the Stevenson home to help care for Robert. When Stevenson wrote a collection of poems called "A Child's Garden of Verses," he dedicated the book to Alison.

Gardeners will be surprised to learn that Herbert Jekyll and Robert Louis Stevenson were friends.  Herbert was the brother of the  British horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll. Jekyll's last name was used in Stevenson's most famous work Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but of course, the popular pronunciation of the Jekyll name became Jekyll thanks to the book.

It was Robert Louis Stevenson who said,

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant”

And, here's an excerpt from Stevenson's The Gardener

The gardener does not love to talk.
He makes me keep the gravel walk;
And when he puts his tools away,
He locks the door and takes the key.

Silly gardener! summer goes,
And winter comes with pinching toes,
When in the garden bare and brown
You must lay your barrow down.



#OTD  Today is the 76th anniversary of the day that the German botanist, Frederick Lueders, lost all of his botanical work.

On November 13, 1843, Lueders was botanizing along the Columbia River in Oregon. He'd been collecting specimens for three years. He had just encountered the explorer John Freemont, when all of his work, which was secured in a canoe nearby, was drawn into the rapids. Lueders plunged into the river and managed to retrieve only a copy of the Flora by Torrey and Gray.

The devastating loss was recorded in Freemont's journal who wrote:

"In the natural concern I felt for his misfortune, I gave to the little cove the name of Lueders' Bay."

For Lueder's part, the loss of his specimens was devastating. However, the loss of his instruments and his correspondence with Asa Gray and Dr. Englemann was almost too great. Lueders determined his best course of action was to return home. He traveled south around the tip of Chile and then onto England. It took him a year to return to Hamburg a year after his mishap on the Columbia.

Lueders didn't stay in Germany long. In fact,  he returned to America within the next year. By 1851, he had made his way to Wisconsin; he spent the rest of his life in Sauk City, and he dabbled in astronomy.  A biographical sketch said that in his old age, Lueders was mainly devoted to his flowers.




#OTD On this day in 1916, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shared a sweet little article about the 16th annual chrysanthemum flower show that had just been held in Washington DC:

It began this way:

"If you ever get the idea that people aren't Interested in flowers, just give a flower show." said one of the guards at the government chrysanthemum show last week.

All morning he had been repeating "Keep to the right!" to the mass of visitors streaming into the greenhouse.

There had been a couple of disastrous jams that injured some valuable specimens, and he was quite bitter about it. "Sometimes people take entirely too much interest in flowers. If you don't watch them they break them off and take them home as souvenirs," he said.

One of the most noticeable features of thia annual chrysanthemum show of the Department of Agriculture and of similar shows held in large cities throughout the country is the growing interest in chrysanthemum culture.

"Where can I buy seeds of such varieties as this?" is the question everybody asks, pointing to a big white "Queen Mary" or to a small lavender pompon.

At the show this year over 250 varities of chrysanthemums were exhibited... The whole greenhouse was a riot of color, with yellow and lavender predominating. Interest in chrysanthemums is increasing every year. National shows have been held every season for the last 16 years, but there has never been such large attendance before."





#OTD  On this day in 1982, the newspaper shared a great story about the author of "Agaves of Continental North America," Howard Scott Gentry.

"This elder statesman of the botanical world [is] a first-class charmer when you get .... to his subject;... his love for the wilds of Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico; [and] about the years he spent overseas as an agricultural explorer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and about how he gradually came to know more about agaves "than any other human being."

"I don't like to start things and not finish them," Gentry said concerning the hectic pace of his agave research after his retirement from the USDA in 1971.

Several times a year he would plunge into the rugged interior of Mexico perched atop a mule, just as he'd been during his first collecting trips nearly half a century earlier.

[Gentry graduated college with a degree in] vertebrate biology from the University of California at Berkeley [and he] concocted the notion of becoming a free lance biologist. To pay for his first field trip into Mexico, he sent 300 letters around the country to scientific institutions, to naturalists, to anybody he could think of, soliciting collection orders. "I came up with $3,000 worth of orders. For anything and everything, for an embryo of a white-tailed deer, which I did collect, for birds' eggs, for ticks, for plant specimens. I really got fascinated with that southern Sonoran and Chihuahuan country.  Gentry tackled it... producing the book "Rio Mayo Plants."

"After that book came out, I became somewhat known as a botanist, which I wasn't. I was a zoologist doing exceptionally well writing as a botanist."

Gentry completed a doctorate in botany at the University of Michigan, where the well-known botanist Harvey Harris Bartlet taught. 

In 1950, Gentry became an agricultural explorer for the USDA. Based in Maryland, he traveled the world locating, researching and collecting plants for the government. [Gentry was involved in a] spurt of postwar agave work when it was discovered that plants in the agave family and plants in the wild yam family contained compounds that seemed effective in treating arthritis.

Because of his far-flung collecting (he traveled in 24 foreign countries), Gentry was constantly introducing new plants to the United States and writing about their possible uses. It was high-profile work in the botanical community.

"I refused several times to become a desk man for USDA," Gentry said. "It was a chance to cut out all the travel, but I told them, 'No, not me. I want to work with plants, not people. People are problems."




Unearthed Words

"When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves -
Welcome wool sweaters."
- B. Cybrill



"The wild November come at last
Beneath a veil of rain;
The night wind blows its folds aside -
Her face is full of pain.

The latest of her race, she takes
The Autumn's vacant throne:
She has but one short moon to live,
And she must live alone.

A barren realm of withered fields,
Bleak woods, and falling leaves,
The palest morns that ever dawned;
The dreariest of eves.

It is no wonder that she comes,
Poor month! With tears of pain;
For what can one so hopeless do
But weep, and weep again?

- Richard Henry Stoddard, poet, November


Today's book recommendation: Square Foot Gardening Third Edition by Mel Bartholomew

In All-New Square Food Gardening, 3rd Edition, the best-selling gardening book in North America is re-launched and updated for the next generation of gardeners and beyond.

Since Square Foot Gardening was first introduced in 1981, the revolutionary new way to garden developed by Mel Bartholomew has helped millions of home gardeners grow more fresh produce in less space and with less work. Now, based mostly on the input and experience of these millions, the system has been even further refined and improved to fully meet today's changing resources, needs, and challenges.

With over 150 new photos and illustrations, this new edition makes it easier than ever to achieve nearly-foolproof results in virtually any situation: 100% of the produce; 20% of the water; 5% of the work.

Perfect for experienced Square-Foot-Gardeners or beginners, the original method created by Mel has not changed in any significant way with this new 3rd edition of All New Square Foot Gardening. It remains: build a box; fill it with Mel's Mix; add a grid. But along with the classic steps, you will find some exciting and compelling new information, such as:

  • Adding trellises and archways
  • Substituting with new materials
  • Adding automatic watering systems
  • "Thinking Outside the Box" with creative configurations and shapes
  • Square Foot Gardening in dense urban areas with little or no yard
  • Square Foot Gardening with kids



Today's Garden Chore

Set up a Houseplant Spa Day on your calendar every two weeks.

During the winter, you can reduce the time between waterings as the days get shorter. A few weeks ago, I mentioned using a bar cart for staging your houseplants, and that sure comes in handy when it's time to wheel them all to the kitchen sink. Even a large tray can be of service if you prefer to shlep your plants over to the sink for a spray down instead of merely watering them with a watering can.

Double potting, placing a smaller pot inside a larger pot, and insulating the plant with a double blanket of soil can help provide extra support to your plants in between waterings. Additionally, there is not much need to fertilize indoor houseplants until spring. So put the fertilizer down and concentrate on regular maintenance at the kitchen sink.



Something Sweet 
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

It was on this day in 2010 that Jane Powers wrote an excellent article for the Irish Times.

What I especially loved about this article was Jane's correlation between the number of bedding plants a person ordered during the middle of the 19th century and their corresponding personal wealth.

Here's what she wrote:

In the heyday of bedding, the number of plants that a person displayed was a gauge of their wealth and status. According to the head gardener at the Rothschild estate at Halton in Buckinghamshire, it was 10,000 plants for a squire, 20,000 for a baronet, 30,000 for an earl, and 40,000 for a duke.



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and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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