Today we celebrate the botanist who started the Botanical Gazette back in 1875 and the incredibly down-to-earth yet inspiring garden designer and writer who turns 90 years old today.
We'll learn about the naming error based on the name of an early Governor of Florida and the almost 500 watercolors by a St. Louis botanist that languished undiscovered until the late '80s.
We'll hear some relatable thoughts about the garden in prose about November.
We Grow That Garden Library with a book that teaches us to turn our carrot stumps, cilantro sprigs, and avocado pits into plants.
I'll talk about adding natural elements to your holiday planters, and then we'll wrap things up with a sweet story about the world's smallest rose garden.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
Today's Curated Articles:
Here's a helpful post from @jackwallington
“Horticultural fleece is a veg plot wonder.” Yes, it is!
Gardeners should look to move away from plastic cloches to more Sustainable options like glass and fabric. Stay Warm and Keep Gardening!
Horticulture Club buds into Staples – Inklings News
@InklingsNews Great Post!
Students must deal with increasing amounts of stress. Greenhouses in Schools are seldom used. Put the two together & you have a recipe for success. Bring horticulture into schools - 30 min of gardening = happier people at any age!
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 John Merle Coulter, who was born on this day in 1851.
In November 1875, Coulter founded the Botanical Gazette, and a year-long subscription cost $1. The first issue was called the Botanical Bulletin. However, out of respect for the similarly named Torrey Botanical Club Bulletin, Coulter changed the name to the Botanical Gazette for the second issue, and the name stuck.
At first, Coulter edited the Botanical Gazette alongside his brother, Stanley, who was also a botanist. He had a number of co-editors throughout the years.
After twenty years of publication, the University of Chicago Press took control of the Botanical Gazette. Coulter remained an editor of the paper for half a century.
Coulter was a lifelong friend of Asa Gray, who he also considered his most influential mentor. Coulter was a prolific writer on the subject of botany, and he collaborated on a large number of scientific books. His Handbook of Plant Dissection was often referred to as the ABC botany book in honor of the last names of the authors: Joseph Arthur, Charles Barnes, and John Coulter.
Coulter led the Botany department at the University of Chicago, where he was especially impactful and beloved. A few days after his death, his widow received a volume containing testimonials from botanists around the country along with a silver tea set in recognition of her husband's work. Also, his students and peers had established a fellowship in his name in 1928 and had managed to raise over $25,000 to support future botany students. Coulter was alive to learn of these honors, but sadly, he died just days before the scheduled event, which was held in his honor.
#OTD Today is the 90th birthday of the garden writer and designer Penelope Hobhouse who was born on this day in 1929.
When Penelope visited Tuscany, she was captivated by the villa gardens, and she began teaching herself garden design. In a 2016 article in the New York Times, Penelope was praised for her work as a designer, saying Hobhouse is "a fixture in the minds of gardeners who love rooms and bones – the paths and walls and satisfying verticals that form the skeleton of a garden."
Penelope has designed gardens all over the world; including a garden for Elizabeth the Queen Mother, at Walmer Castle in Kent, an herb garden for the New York Botanical Garden, and an English cottage garden for Steve Jobs' Woodside home.
Gardens Illustrated recently shared a post featuring six of her garden design principles:
"Think about backgrounds
Large trees can be used to frame the sky; hedges provide vertical and horizontal lines as well as a background for planting, while small trees with broad, globular, or pyramidal heads act as ‘ceilings.’ Low continuous hedging can be used to frame pathways.
Create a strong framework
I tend to create a strong structure or framework for my gardens, with looser planting within. The architecture can be supplied by buildings, walls, steps, and pergolas, but also by plants.
Don’t overuse colors
The cardinal rule for planting is to use bright colors sparingly. Form is much more important than color, and flowers are fleeting, so start instead with the shapes and hues of trees, hedges and shrubs, and the leaf form and color of herbaceous plants, the shape they make, and the height they grow to.
Mix plants up
Choose plants that will not only do well in any particular spot but will also associate happily with any neighboring indigenous plants.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
To help unite the house and garden and create flow, repeat hard or soft features.
Don’t forget it’s for you
Gardens should also provide shade and shelter, seats for contemplation, scents, and solitude, and require just the amount of maintenance to encourage relaxation, because, above all, they are places to be enjoyed."
Despite all of her achievements, gardeners find Penelope relatable and personable. In a recent video, she said, "I'm still finding my way."
#OTD On this day in 1933, the Knoxville Journal shared a story called "Department Botanists Agree Too Late to Change - Lespedeza was named in Error."
Lespedeza (pronounced "Les-pah-dee-zah") is a genus of around 40 species of flowering plants in the pea family, commonly known as bush clovers.
The article pointed out that the mistaken identity,
"...dates back to 1803 when [the] French botanist, Michaux, ...bestowed the name to honor the governor of Florida, Lespedez who allowed [the botanist André] Michaux to explore Florida as part of his botanizing efforts for France.
[But,] in studying the early history of the plant recently. P. L. Ricker, of the United States Department of Agriculture, ... [couldn't find] a governor by that name in Florida State history.
By checking [the] old histories, records revealed that the governor in 1788 was actually named Cespedes, making it clear that the name as given by Michaux was either an error or a misprint. Botanists of the department agree that it would be a mistake to try to correct the mistake now if for no other reason [than] it would lead to confusion with a family of tropical trees, Cespedesia named in honor of an early professor of botany also named Cespedes."
#OTD On this day in 1989, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shared an incredible story called Buried Blossoms by Patricia Rice, which shared the story of the long lost work of the botanist August Henry Kramer.
"After 40 years in basements, [Kramer's] collection of 493 botanical watercolors was scrutinized by two local art appraisers.
You might Imagine that art appraisers become blase about seeing another beautiful painting. But not Barbara Messing. "They took my breath away," she said.
Flowering mint, California poppies, hummingbird sage, wild parsnips, whispering bells, rare alpine flowers seemed almost fresh on the paper.
Each had been meticulously painted from live botanical specimens by August Henry Kramer in his spare time as a fire lookout In California and Oregon.
Kramer was born ... in south St. Louis but spent his adult life in the Western forests. ...Shortly before his death in the late 1940s, he brought his paintings to his sister in St. Louis, with careful notes detailing the care of the delicate watercolors.
Kramer's great-nephew, [Art] Haack, does not know precisely when his great-uncle died or where he was buried. He packed "Uncle Gus' box [of watercolors]" each time he and his ... family moved.
"Every once in a while, I would take them out, and we would look at them."
A few years ago, Jeanne Haack, (Art's wife) and a volunteer guide at the Missouri Botanical Garden, took her husband to an art exhibit of botanical drawings at the Garden. They immediately reminded [Art] of his uncle's work.
He wrote about the paintings to the Garden's [Director] Peter Raven, who sent two staff members to look at Kramer's work.
When [the appraiser Barbara] Messing pulled the paintings from their brown paper wrappings, it was the first time they all had been seen outside the family In 40 years.
After a couple of hours of looking at them, she felt hot tears flowing down her face.
She said, "Each drawing was so beautiful. It made cry."
"I prefer winter and fall when you feel the bone structure of the
landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter.
Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn't show."
- Andrew Wyeth, artist
"In the evenings
I scrape my fingernails clean,
hunt through old catalogues for new seed,
oil work boots and shears.
This garden is no metaphor --
more a task that swallows you into itself,
earth using, as always, everything it can."
- Jan Hirshfield, November, Remembering Voltaire
The subtitle to this book is Regrow Your Leftover Greens, Stalks, Seeds, and More.
Katie's book is an excellent reminder to old and young gardeners alike that much of our food is part of a cycle of growth, and thanks to Katie, we can easily tap into that cycle with confidence.
It's time to stop tossing your carrot stumps, cilantro sprigs, lettuce and cabbage stalks, apple cores, and avocado pits in the trash.
Katie gives you everything you need to know to grow successfully and re-propagate produce from your kitchen scraps. With this book, you can enjoy fresh greens and herbs anytime you want. Best of all, you'll reduce food waste and save time and money.
Katie's book is chock full of step-by-step photos and instruction. And, the little gardeners in your home will marvel at the new plants that are created right before their eyes.
Today's Garden Chore
Add natural elements to your holiday planters to create layers of interest and texture.
Today I was out chiseling holes into my planters with a long screwdriver so that I could incorporate some permanent stems and seasonal items into my planters.
I was reminded of the importance of adding natural elements like twigs, nests, sticks, and even feathers to my holiday planters to give them a little more pizzaz. Bundling sticks with twine and then tucking them in among the branches looks very homey.
If you can't afford to buy birch cuttings, you can always spraypaint a few larger sticks with some white paint (a little goes a long way). I stumbled on this a few years ago when I decided to give it a shot, and I have to say that from the street, the cuttings definitely pass for birch.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Today is the anniversary of the death of the Oregon Journal columnist and gardener Richard William Fagan, who died on this day in 1969.
As gardeners, we celebrate Fagan for installing the world's smallest rose park - Mill Ends Park - in Portland on February 23, 1954. The installation coincided with "Rose Planting Week."
The park is 18 inches in diameter and was named after Dick's column, which was also called Mill Ends. The name of the column Mill Ends came from Dick's passion for collecting little brevities and news items about the Pacific Northwest sawmills - thus, Mill Ends.
In fact, the mayor of Portland once commented, "I don't know why you invited me to talk on city affairs. Dick Fagan can tell you more."
Mill Ends Park is really just a small plot in the middle of an empty lamppost-hole on a cement divider on the street at the intersection of SW 1st and Taylor St.
That year, in 1954, the city of Columbus, Ohio, was claiming the title of "The Rose City" - an honor held by Portland for over 50 years. Portland gardeners were incensed and began planting roses all around the city.
Dick got the idea for the park after spying the empty spot in the road divider from his window at the Newspaper building. It consisted of a single rose bush, a little wire fence, and a small wooden marker that said: "Mill Ends Park."
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"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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