November 22, 2019 Gravel Garden Beds, 30 Top Landscape Perennials, Edwin Jellett, Doris Duke, George Eliot, Herb Topiaries by Sally Gallo, Yule Log, and November Strawberries in 1843

Today we celebrate the man who wrote extensively about the history and flora of Germantown and...

We'll learn about the 11-roomed garden created to honor the tobacco magnate James Buchanan Duke.

We'll hear some beautiful thoughts on nature by an English Victorian author who was born on this day in 1819.

We Grow That Garden Library with an adorable old book on topiaries.

I'll talk about foraging for a Yule Log, and then we'll wrap things up with a friendly post about November strawberries from 1843.

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


Today's Curated Articles:

Gravel Bed Garden Design: Tips On Laying A Gravel Garden | @gardenknowhow

By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

I love gravel beds in gardens. I don't see them very often, but when I do, they definitely get my full attention. I especially love it when they are enhanced with a water feature like an urn fountain or a rain chain.

Becca suggests incorporating:

"Ornamental grasses, herbaceous perennials, and even trees or shrubs may be suitable. Install plants into the soil. Add any hardscape features such as benches, water features, clay pots, or tin planters. Large boulders complement the gravel garden construction."

If you're thinking about installing a gravel bed in your 2020 garden, check out this post.



The Ultimate List of 30 Best Perennials for Landscaping | Richard Spencer @rs_garden_care recently updated this comprehensive post.

I love how Richard starts this post out:

"When choosing plants for your yard for the first time, it can be overwhelming without a lot of experience to try to find the best perennials for landscaping and the ones that give the highest value for your money. As we are visual creatures, we tend to pay at first more attention to external things, and that’s not always the right way to go."

This is where advice from a seasoned expert comes in handy, and Richard's list is an excellent place to start.



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.

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 Germantown historian, botanist, and writer Edwin Jellett who was born on this day in 1860.

The town of Germantown owes such a debt of gratitude to Edwin Jellett, who devoted himself to capturing the history and the flora of the area now part of Northwest Philadelphia. He was a font of knowledge about the area, and he was beyond generous with his research and time, happy to help anyone with a question or a mystery about Germantown.

Edwin had a column in the local paper that appeared for forty weeks during the year 1903. It was charming, and it was pretty extensive, and it covered his minute and astute observations and thoughts his two main passions: history and botany. Every entry concluded with a list of all the plants shared in the post, along with both the Latin and common names. Often, those lists featured upwards of 30 to 40 different species.

Recently, the Awbury Arboretum republished Edwin's entries online in honor of its centennial in 2016.

Here's what the Chair of the Awbury Arboretum Association, Mark Sellers, wrote about Edwin's final entry, which was published on December 4th, 1903. I think Mark perfectly captures Edwin's love for the area.

"To trace his path in this last article is to watch as a magician pulls one improbable thing after another from a hat that appears too small to hold them...

Hemlock boughs bend under the weight of the snow and ice, and as Edwin stops to inspect a bird’s nest that was occupied during his last visit, but now only contains snow.

It is apparent Edwin knew this was his last column. He reached as far into his memory and his understanding of what was beautiful around him...

While Edwin’s observations have significant historical and botanical value to the student of horticulture in Philadelphia, what makes them interesting reading is his joy. Joy at seeing and knowing, joy from watching the seasons change and seeing the landscape and recognizing its significance.

“On rocks or on exposed banks, speedwell - never in a hurry - waits, and in thickets, green ropy runners of smilax, and the more refined bittersweet may be seen climbing over banks...

On trunks of trees nearby, are alabaster projecting seats fit for elves or fairies... Lichens, liver worts and mosses which escaped us earlier become conspicuous, the greater volume of light admitted to the woods exposing their hidden retreats.

On hills and dry banks club mosses... prominently appear, and on damp rocks, where water trickles, marchantia, an exceeding odd plant, will be found carpeting many an exposure, and, like all hepaticaae, bearing unique flowers.

Keen as may be the interest in summer stars, far greater is the interest of winter ones, because of the presence of a number of planets, and the enhanced brilliancy of the heavens.

So the never-ceasing procession continues, and forever when day departs or seasons die galaxies of stars, constellations of indescribable beauty, and a moon whose splendor we can never fully know, course before us for observation and wonder.”



#OTD On this day in 1900, an article ran in The Indianapolis News called Science and Flowers: Study of the One Does Not Destroy the Love of the Other.

"Can people dip at all deeply into the real science of botany, and yet enjoy flowers because of their beauty, because of the delight of finding them in lovely spots on lovely summer days, and because of their dear associations?

Must the scientific sense blunt the aesthetic one?

Often, ... this will be the case. Pistils and stamens, nectaries, and receptacles - these things will not always go well with artless talk about sweet blooms and bright berries, or even with the simple, very English names given by the unlearned to flowers.

But on the other hand, there are many lovers of nature and field naturalists ... will still care for the flower because of Its beauty, because It grows in the best places at the best time of year, because It vividly recalls to them the glad, sorrowful days of childhood, or the tender passages - of true love.

Flowers, apart from the science of botany, are inextricably woven about human life. When will the artist be tired of painting the children in the meadows with their laps full of cowslips or celandine?

Let the botanist classify and name,... but let him be careful not to do anything to bring into contempt the love of flowers,... lest we rightly call him dry-as-dust and blind to beauty.

Finally, let him help to keep up the old names as well as the new ones. We must always have our Sweet William, Kingcup (Marsh Marigold), Sweet Cicely, Loosestrife, Heartsease (Wild Pansy), Codlins-and-Creams (Hairy Willowherb), and Feverfew. All [these] names [have] stories and meanings, whose loss would be a loss to the language; their very mention turns our thoughts to the gardens and, the pasture lands of summer gone but coming again."



#OTD Today is the birthday of the billionaire tobacco heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke who was born on this day in 1912.

When Duke was 46, Duke created an exotic public-display garden called Duke Gardens to honor her father, James Buchanan Duke. Drawing inspiration from DuPont's Longwood Gardens, the eleven interconnected gardens followed various themes focusing on a particular country or period.

Duke Gardens took visitors into an Italian courtyard, which featured a replica of Antonio Canova's sculpture, The Three Graces. Next came the Colonial Garden of the American South featuring camellias, azaleas, magnolia, and crepe myrtle. Then came the ferns and orchids of the Edwardian Garden, followed by the French and English gardens.

There was an exceptional Elizabethan knot garden, an American Desert, a Chinese Garden, A Japanese Garden as well as an Indo-Persian Garden which featured a Persian rose garden. The final gardens were Tropical and Semi-Tropical featuring vines, papyrus, and Bird of Paradise.

Clearly, Duke used what she had seen from her travels to design the elements in her displays, and Duke personally designed and installed the garden - sometimes working up to 16 hours a day. She donated the property to the Duke Foundation in 1960.

In 2008, sentiments about the gardens changed as some folks felt that the gardens "[perpetuated] the Duke family history of personal passions and conspicuous consumption."

The gardens remained open until May 25th, and then they were dismantled. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation said that,

"The day of the display garden is past. [The gardens] consume an inordinate share of financial and staff resources, they would require a very expensive modernization, and they no longer reflect the vision of Duke Farm’s future. A video record has been made for archival purposes."

With the closure of Duke Gardens, another arm of the Duke family legacy, the Duke Farms Foundation created new indoor and outdoor display gardens as part of Duke Farms, which opened to the public on May 19, 2012.



#OTD On this day in 1963, Japan's Emperor Hirohito, an accomplished amateur botanist and zoologist, published his fourth book.

The book was a 24-page supplement to "The Plants of Nasu (pronounced "Na-soo"), a book he had published in the previous year.



Unearthed Words

Today is the 200th birthday of the English Victorian author George Eliot, who was born on this day in 1819.

George Eliot was the pen name for a woman named Mary Ann Evans, and her many works like Silas Marner and Middlemarch are packed with images from the garden.

To Eliot, plants were the perfect representation of faith - both required care and feeding to grow and flourish.

On October 1st, 1841, Eliot wrote a letter to her old governess, Maria Lewis. She wrote:

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

My favorite quotes from Eliot are about her love of roses. She wrote:

"I think I am quite wicked with roses. I like to gather them, and smell them till they have no scent left."

And, Eliot wrote this little poem about roses:

"You love the roses—so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valleys would be pink and white,
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and yet waking, all at once.
Over the sea, Queen, where we soon shall go,
Will it rain roses?"

This concept of raining roses was something Eliot wrote about several times.

This last quote about roses is the one she is most famous for:

"It never rains roses; when we want more roses, we must plant more... "




Today's book recommendation: Herb Topiaries by Sally Gallo

This is such a cute and useful little book. It's old; it came out in 1992.

Sally covers topiary basics, before going into the plants that are perfect for topiaries: Victorian Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, Scented Geraniums, and Dwarf Sage, just to name a few.

And, Sally reminds us that gardening in pots - working with topiaries - offers all the pleasures of gardening on a larger scale. Of course, the epitome of this pastime is training fragrant, potted herbs into traditional topiary shapes. Sally walks us through it all.

Sally's book is delightfully illustrated, and she gives us the history, lore, and culture of a dozen favorite herbs ideal for topiaries - which is another thoughtful feature of this book.

You can get a used copy and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for about $3.




Today's Garden Chore

Forage for a Yule Log for your Thanksgiving table.

I'm speaking about this little idea on an upcoming local TV segment for the American Heart Association. It's a great way to connect with nature and reduce stress, which can be a contributor to heart disease and stroke because it increases blood pressure. At the same time, you can enjoy a tradition that is centuries old.

In the early 1600s, the yule log was a symbolic pillar meant to sweep away mischief and ensure a happy new year. People would go out and forage for a simple pine log. Often, the log was selected up to two to three years before it was used, so that on the big day, the yule log would undoubtedly burn "long and brightly."

And it was essential to save a piece of the log to light next year's Yule log - it was considered bad luck not to do so. During the Elizabethan times, people didn't have Christmas trees. Instead, they followed the Scandinavian tradition of a Yule Log.

Robert Herrick wrote:

Kindle the Christmas brand, and then
Till sunset let it burn;
Which quench'd, then lay it up again
Till Christmas next return.
Part must be kept wherewith to tend
The Christmas log next year,
And where 'tis safely kept, the fiend
Can do no mischief there.

Once you start reading about it, there are so many charming traditions behind the Yule Log. After you find a specimen that fits your table, you can decorate it - using the yule log as a base for evergreens, florals, natural elements, dried fruit, spices, and fragrant oils.




Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

On this day in 1843, the New England Farmer out of Boston shared a little update called Strawberries in November.

It highlighted a little friendly competition between two strawberry growers: Mr. Brandegree of New London and Simeon Marble of Boston.

Here's what it said:

"The New London Advocate noticed the fact that strawberries had been picked from the garden of Mr Brandegree and asked, "Who can beat this ?"

[But then] Mr Simeon Marble yesterday presented us a bunch of ripe strawberries, just plucked from the vines in his garden, in this city. They were of two varieties, red and white.

The New London folks will please to consider themselves beaten."




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

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