Today we celebrate the botanist who discovered osmosis and the botanist who helped popularize the poinsettia.
We'll learn about the painter who made an indelible garden out of waste marshland and the Edwardian Landscape Architect who designed the Peace Palace gardens at the Hague.
We'll celebrate the birthday of the royal gardener who turns 71 today.
We'll hear the oft-quoted November poem with the lines "The last lone aster is gone; The flowers of the witch hazel wither;"
We Grow That Garden Library with a book that helps gardeners create a garden worthy of painting.
I'll talk about seedheads, and then we'll wrap things up with the Spanish grape that is the sixth most widely planted grape in the world.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
Here's Today's Curated Articles:
@ChelsPhysicGdn's head of plant collections, Nell Jones, shares her tips for the best “wellbeing” plants to grow at home: Peppermint, Rosemary, Tumeric, Aloe Vera, and Chamomile. All are fantastic options for houseplants with health benefits.
Here's an A+ video from @gwmag featuring Carol Klein - who couldn't look sharper with her Suit & Scarf - showing us How to Collect and Sow Astrantia, Hesperis, & Hardy Annuals. She's the Real Deal - right down to the dirt under her fingernails!
This IDOP podcast is a good one! Ep. 237: The Torreya taxifolia
Asa Gray recalled when Hardy Bryan Croom discovered it along with a little plant that grows beneath it: the Croomia pauciflora.
So, in botany, as in life, Croom grew happily in the shadow of Torrey.
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 the French physiologist and botanist Henri Dutrochet, who was born on this day in 1776.
Dutrochet discovered and named the process of osmosis working in his home laboratory as he was investigating the movement of sap in plant tissues. Dutrochet shared his discovery with the Paris Academy of Sciences on October 30th, 1826.
Like the cells in our own bodies, plants don't drink water; they absorb it by osmosis.
Dutrochet also figured out the green pigment in plants is essential to how plants take up carbon dioxide.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the botanist Robert Buist who was born on this day in 1805.
Robert Buist came to America from Edinburgh "Edinburgh," where his dad was a professional gardener. He had trained at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and immigrated to Philadelphia when he was 23 years old.
One of his first jobs was working for a wealthy Philadelphia businessman named Henry Pratt, who had a tremendous summer estate named Lemon Hill. At the time, Lemon Hill was regarded as having one of the most beautiful gardens in the United States.
Eventually, Buist bought the history Bernard M'Mahon nursery - one of the oldest nurseries in the country and the nursery that supplied plants to Thomas Jefferson.
Today, on the spot where the nursery used to be, is a large old Sophora tree - known as the Buist Sophora. The tree was brought to the United States from France, and its origin can be traced to China.
In addition to the nursery, Buist grew his company to include a seed division and a greenhouse. In 1825, the Plant Explorer Joel Poinsett sent some specimens of a plant he discovered in Mexico home to Charleston. Buist heard about the plant bought himself one and began growing it. Buist named it Euphorbia poinsettia since the plant had a milky white sap like other Euphorbias. The red bracts of the plant were so unusual and surprising to Buist that he wrote it was "truly the most magnificent of all the tropical plants we have ever seen."
Of course, what Buist had been growing is the plant we know today as the poinsettia. Buist gave his friend and fellow Scot the botanist James McNab a poinsettia when he visited in 1834. McNab brought the plant back to Scotland and gave it to the head of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Robert Graham. Graham promptly changed the botanical name of the plant to Poinsettia pulcherrima - a move that greatly disgusted Buist for the rest of his life.
And, here's a fun little side note about Robert Buist. His books on gardening were very popular. When Stonewall Jackson discovered gardening in middle age, he relied heavily on Robert Buist's book “The Family Kitchen Gardener: Containing Plain and Accurate Descriptions of All the Different Species and Varieties of Culinary Vegetables, that became Jackson's gardening bible and he wrote little notes in the margins as he worked his way through the guide. Just like most gardeners still do today, he'd write, "Plant this" or "try this" in the margins next to the plants he was interested in trying the following year.
#OTD Today is the birthday of Claude Monet who was born on this day in 1840.
Gardeners love Stephen Gwynn's 1934 book Claude Monet and his Garden. In 1883 Monet purchased a house in 1883. Monet immediately set about creating a hidden water garden fashioned out of waste marshland. Monet made sure his lily pond was surrounded by trees and plants, incorporating poplars, willows, bamboo, and iris.
And, Monet's favorite plant and painting subject were, no doubt, his water lilies. Monet said,
"'I am following Nature without being able to grasp her. I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."
Monet painted his garden over the span of 40 years. In 1914, Monet began his most impressive work - a series of large panels that offered a 360-degree view of the pond. Monet worked on the panels all through the first World War.
It's was Monet who wrote:
“When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field, or whatever. Merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape.”
And it was Monet who said this,
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”
“I must have flowers, always, and always.”
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the most prolific Edwardian Landscape Architect and town planner Thomas Hayton Mawson who died on this day in 1933.
When Mawson was a teenager, his dad started a nursery and fruit farm in Yorkshire. Mawson loved the orchard, but his happiness came to an abrupt end when his father died, and his mother was forced to sell the property.
But the nursery experience had left an impression on Mawson and his siblings, and at one point, they all pursued work in horticulture.
In 1900, Mawson wrote his classic work, The Art and Craft of Garden Making, which was strongly influenced by the arts and crafts era. The book brought Mawson's influence and authority.
In short order, his firm Thomas H. Mawson & Sons, became THE firm for Landscape Architecture. Mawson's most famous client was William Hesketh Lever, and Mawson eventually designed many of his properties: Thornton Manor, Lever’s Cheshire home, Rivington Pike, and Lever’s London home, The Hill, Hampstead.
Mawson's most notable public work was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie: the gardens of the Peace Palace in The Hague in 1908.
#OTD Today is the birthday of Prince Charles, who was born on this day in 1948.
Recently, Prince Charles was asked how he came to love gardening.
It turns out, as a little boy, he was given a small hidden plot at Buckingham Palace where he could grow vegetables. Prince Charles and his sister, Princess Anne, had to cultivate their own plan for the garden.
Gardening was a passion that Prince Charles shared with his grandmother, who had a beautiful garden at Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park. Prince Charles recently recalled,
“It was a wonderful woodland garden with masses of azaleas and rhododendrons. The smell and everything had a profound effect on me."
To this day, the Prince is a big believer in the therapeutic benefits of gardening.
As an adult, Prince Charles was an early practitioner of the organic gardening movement. His Highgrove farm was one of the first farms in England to be certified as fully organic.
Today, nearly 40,000 people visit @HighgroveGarden every single year. Garden guides explain how Prince Charles transformed the land adjoining the house into a series of outdoor rooms that embody his gardening ideals and organic principles.
In May of this year, Google Arts and Culture made it possible for people to take a virtual tour of the gardens at Highgrove. One of the most notable aspects of the garden is the Stumpery - a treehouse built for William and Harry in a Holly Tree.
The virtual tour also included a glimpse of the Cottage Garden, the Sundial Garden, the Thyme Walk, the Sunflower Meadow, the Rose Pergola that commemorated Prince Charles’ 50th birthday, as well as a memorial to his beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Tigga.
Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.
The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.
And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question ‘Whither?’
Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?
–Robert Frost, Reluctance
Today's book is such a good one. I need to make sure to tell you that this is the 20th Anniversary revised edition. When Elizabeth's book first came out, it was an instant bestseller and deservedly so!
Elizabeth Murray was uniquely qualified to write this book because she is both a professional gardener and an artist. But even better than her qualifications is her heart. When Murray saw Monet's garden Giverny in 1984 - her heart fell in love. Elizabeth worked to restore the garden, and she enjoyed privileges to Monet's garden that allowed her real intimacy with the space and with Monet's spirit.
Thanks to Murray, all of us can not only enjoy Monet's gardens on a deeper level, but we can breakdown what he was doing with color and balance and light.
There is a fabulous 10-minute TED Talk by Murray that is available on YouTube. I shared it in The Daily Gardener Community on Facebook. You are going to love meeting and learning from Elizabeth in this video. If you want to access it quickly - just search for Murray, and her Ted Talk will pop right up.
One thing I learned about Monet from reading Elizabeth's book, is that Monet was nearly blind during the later years. So, he painted his beautiful garden from memory in his studio.
"I find it deeply moving that we can create what we can imagine and that what we create can renew and transform others."
I love that sentiment. As a gardener, you are a creator. Your imagination takes your garden in all sorts of directions - thus, the quote that "Gardeners dream bigger dreams than emperors." So I ask you - what better use of your offseason is there than dreaming and planning and imagining all that you can create in your garden.
Today's Garden Chore
You've heard it said a million times by now - "Leave the seedheads!"
But, I had a gardener ask me recently - which seedheads should I let alone, I have so many.
I say leave the seedheads of your herbaceous plants.
Here's a list of some that I like to leave standing:
Fennel, Echinacea, Verbena, Teasel, Ligularia, Eryngium, Grasses, and Echinacea,
And bonus: Sparrows and goldfinches especially enjoy seedheads.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Today is International Tempranillo Day.
Tempranillo is made with a black grape variety grown to make full-bodied red wines in Spain. It's now the 3rd most widely planted wine grape variety worldwide.
Tempranillo is derived from Temprano ("early"), in reference to the fact that the grape ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes.
Fans of Tempranillo are often surprised to learn there is a white mutant version of the grape - although it is rare. the white tempranillo grape is an approved wine grape and has a citrus flavor.
Tempranillo wines tend to have spicey notes, so they are best paired with meat - like chicken, lamb, or pork.
Tempranillo's notes include strawberries, black currants, cherries, prunes, chocolate, and tobacco.
Tempranillo has found a home in Texas, and it has grown to be the state's signature grape. And, Tempranillo is arguably the signature red wine of Texas. So, cheers to International Tempranillo Day!
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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