Today we celebrate one of the first botanists to explore South Carolina and a German botanist who met his end during the 1841 Expedition to Niger.
We'll learn about the man who discovered why the sky is blue, and one of Australia's top garden designers, in addition to the monument to one of Australia's greatest botanical collectors.
We'll hear some thoughts on the birds of winter and, we Grow That Garden Library with a book that helps us become a seed starting and saving champion.
I'll talk about my favorite brand for wooden plant labels (the come in a pack of 60!), and then we'll end today with a garden club story out of Davenport, Iowa.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
Today's curated articles:
I think that I shall never see... a team as lovely as @centralparknyc Arborists! Bookmark this Great Post w/ A+ Video ~ Meeting the Arborists Behind (and IN) Central Park’s Trees! As we talk to kids about careers, Arborist needs to be on the list! Dahlias -Overwintering Dilemmas | Bramble Garden Hi Dahlings! Here's a great behind-the-scenes post with advice and tips from @kgimson on Dahlias: “I’ll take basal softwood cuttings when shoots are 1″ tall...Cuttings will make good size tubers and will flower in one season.” Plantlife: Mission to save gin plant Juniper a recipe for success | @Love_plants This is excellent news for Junipers and a fascinating post.
"No wonder the English ‘gin plant’ is under threat - the battle really begins at birth. Juniper seeds require two winters before they even germinate and seedlings then require very specific conditions to grow. If they survive childhood, it takes another 10 years or more before these ‘teenagers’ mature and begin producing those lovely gin-flavored berries.”
I'll never look at gin the same way!
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 search for 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 On this day in 1788, Andre Michaux made his way from Georgia into South Carolina by crossing the Tugalo River.
In his journal, Michaux wrote:
"At dawn, I went to look at the banks of the river and I recognized the yellow root, [a new species of rhododendron], mountain laurel, hydrangea, [and] hemlock spruce. . . ."
Harvard's Charles Sprague Sargent concluded this moment was significant because it was the first time that Michaux laid eyes on the Rhododendron minus. Rhododendron minus grows naturally in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama along streams and rocky ridges. Four years after first seeing it, Andre Michaux described the Rhododendron minus in detail. He called it the minus meaning smaller, due to the size of its leaves as compared to Rhododendron maximum.
#OTD On this day in 1841, the German botanist Theodore Vogel was laid low with dysentery.
Vogel was botanizing in Niger (“nee-ZHER") after joining the Niger expedition in May of that year. By August, Vogel recorded the hardships of traveling by naval warship in his journal:
"As soon as I got on board the Wilberforce, my first care was to shift my entire collection, especially the plants gathered since we arrived at Cape Coast Castle. But though I had taken all possible care, much was spoilt and almost everything in a bad state. It has been my lot ... that after endless labor, I could only get together ill-conditioned plants; for dampness and want of room are obstacles impossible to be overcome... I mention this, on purpose, that in case my collection comes into other hands, I may not be accused of negligence. I have sacrificed every convenience to gain room, and spared no trouble to overcome the dampness of the ship and of the atmosphere, but without success. The general arrangements of a man-of-war do not give much opportunity for such experiments. When will the time arrive, that expeditions, whose result must depend on the observations of naturalists, will afford them, from the outset, the appropriate and necessary support? At present, the vessels are fitted up for other purposes, and it is left to chance, to discover a little nook for the philosopher. I was now obliged to devote the two days remaining which we spent at Accra, to the drying of my collection, that all might not be lost."
When Vogel became sick on this day in 1841, his friend and fellow German, the mineralogist, Charles Gottfried Roscher, tended to him for thirteen days and never left his bedside. On December 17th, about mid-day, Vogel asked his friend if everything was ready for their excursion, and then a few minutes later, he peacefully passed away.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the Irish experimental physicist John Tyndall who died on this day in 1893.
Tyndall made many discoveries in the field of infrared radiation, including discovering the link between atmospheric CO2 and what is now known as the Greenhouse effect in 1859. Today, we know that a female scientist named Eunice Foote was actually the first to discover the impact - three years before Tyndall in 1856.
That said, Tyndall is best known for learning why the sky is blue. It turns out that light scattering through molecules suspended in the atmosphere creates the color, which is sometimes referred to as Tyndall Blue. As all gardeners know, there is nothing more beautiful than the garden set against the backdrop of a brilliant blue sky. John Tyndall was one of Ireland’s most successful scientists and educators.
#OTD Today is the birthday of the charismatic Australian gardener, designer & writer Edna Walling who was born on this day in 1896. Edna created some gorgeous gardens in Australia. She is remembered for her beautifulwonderful books on gardening & landscaping. Edna worked nonstop for four decades between the 1920s and 1960s, creating over 300 gardens. Many Australians regard her as the most excellent landscape designer that Australia has ever known. Her books and garden designs continue to be an inspiration. Edna was a conservationist at heart. And, Edna was ahead of her time. She advocated for the use of native plants, which were naturally drought-hardy - a must for the harsh climate of Australia. And, given her pragmatism, Edna usually preferred perennials over annuals. She wrote about the backlash that she received from a friend in November 1941:
"[I got] a letter from a friend the other day who addressed me "Dear Anti-annual!" Oooooh, what have I said? Something rude about Iceland poppies or asters? How narrow-minded of me. "If you can't grow them yourself you needn't be snippy about them", she thinks."
It was Edna Walling who said,
"Nature is our greatest teacher."
Edna's work and legacy were brought to light by Peter Watts, who wrote about Edna as part of his thesis in college. The paper became the basis for a book published by the National Trust, and it fueled Peter's love for historic gardens. In an article for ThePlantHunter.com by Georgina Reid, Watts said that,
"Walling would be regarded now as a bit old-fashioned. She was a gardener’s designer – a brilliant plantswoman who understood the subtleties of gardening and design... [and that Edna] always thought gardens should be just a bit bigger than they needed so that you couldn’t control them entirely."
#OTD On this day in 1897, executors for the botanist Baron von Mueller's estate posted a request for donations in newspapers.
The plan was to raise money for a monument over von Mueller's grave in the St. Hilda Cemetery in Melbourne.
Four years later, by the end of November in 1901, newspapers announced that the monument was unveiled at a small ceremony with friends and government officials.
The effort to establish the monument was led by Mueller's friend, Reverand Potter. Potter recalled that Mueller had
"expressly desired that only wildflowers and grasses should grow upon his grave until such time as a worthy monument could be erected."
Mueller's monument is a tall stone obelisk topped with an urn. A copper medallion shows his profile and the inscription on the monument ends with these words by Friedrich Schiller, the Baron’s favorite poet:
"Despair not! There are still noble hearts that glow for the august and sublime."
The American naturalist, Edwin Way Teale has given us some marvelous prose about birds and winter in his books: A Walk Through the Year, Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist's Year, and Wandering Through Winter: A Naturalist's Record of a 20,000-Mile Journey Through the North American Winter. During World War II, Teale’s son, David, was killed in Germany. Teale and his wife began traveling across the country by automobile. The trips helped them cope with their grief and became an integral part of Teale's writing. Their 1947 journey, covering 17,000 miles in a black Buick and following the unfolding spring, led to Teale's book North with the Spring.
Additional road trips lead to more books: Journey Into Summer, Autumn Across America, and Wandering Through Winter.
Wandering Through Winter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966.
Here are some of Teale's thoughts on winter and birds:
“The "dead of winter" ----- how much more dead it would be each year without the birds!”
“On the roughest days of winter, when life seems overwhelmed by storm and cold, watch a chickadee, observe in good cheer and take heart.”
“Bluebird blue....one of the loveliest manifestations of the color blue.”
My favorite Edwin Way Teale quote honors his thoughts about life. They are especially poignant when one thinks that he wrote them after losing his son:
“How strangely inaccurate it is to measure the length of living by length of life! The space between your birth and death is often far from a true measure of your days of living.”
The subtitle to this book is Grow the Perfect Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, and Flowers for Your Garden.
Julie's book is an excellent gift for anyone who wants to start growing plants from seed. It's a whole 'nother world, and it can be scary for gardeners to attempt starting & saving seeds on their own. I get it.
Well, here's why Julie's book is a great guide: she gets it. She totally relates to the newbie seed starter anxieties and questions around this topic. Best of all, she is 100% approachable. As she says in the introduction to her book:
"Think of me as your new friend or the neighbor next door who loves to garden. Together we'll banish any fears of failure and create a beautiful, healthy, delicious, self-sufficient garden - from seed." Yay!
So, now that intimidation is off the table let Julie walk you through how to handle more significant challenges like dealing with seeds that are stubborn germinators - seeds that I call the "Terminator Germinators."
Even better, Julie recognizes that not everyone wants to set up a shop indoors. If you don't want to grow lights or have limited space, let Julie teach you how to seed outdoors - because direct sowing couldn't be simpler. Did someone say zinnias?
Better yet, as your confidence grows, let Julie convince you of the many benefits of starting plants from seeds - the cost savings, the increased variety options, and the appreciation factor. When you start a plant from seed - you really appreciate the entire life cycle of the plant, and that deepens your understanding.
- Great Value Pack. Compared to other brands, the HOMENOTE plant labels include 60 pieces and bonus a marking pen for you, which could help you mark sorts of plants, seeds, or vegetables with the garden markers.
- Eco-friendly Material. The garden markers are made by 100% natural bamboo that does not harm the earth like plastic plant labels, which is an eco-friendly and renewable resource to the environment.
- Easy to write, not Easy to Wash Off. The plant labels are so easy to write on the smooth surface with this bonus permanent marking pen, and please don’t worry at all about the ink in the plant tags wash off in the rain or fade in the sunshine.
- Perfect Design and Size. Measuring in at 4" tall x 2.36" wide on top (1.4" tall on the top part), these T-type plant markers have enough room to label more than just the plant's names on them. Each marker is 1/16" thick rendering them very durable and standing the test of time.
- Great Gift for Gardener. These bamboo plant tags will add charm to your garden while letting you know exactly what the plants are or their grow situation. Personalize the plant tags with a short message/wording whatever you like is the perfect finishing touch to your potted garden — a good choice of gift for your friends, colleagues, lovers, and family members who love gardening.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
On this day in 1930, the Quad-City Times shared a sweet little update from the garden department of the Davenport Woman's club.
"[The group] added a special holiday gesture to its December program this morning at the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, when the seed and bulb committee composed of E. A. Johnson and Mrs. R. E. Albrecht, presented each member with a dainty Christmas package in bright-hued Christmas wrappings, containing seeds for next spring's sowing. Fifty seed packages and ten sacks of dahlia bulbs went to the women who attended."
But that's not all. Their education program was spot on:
"Mrs. Charles Irwin spoke on the Arnold Arboretum at Cambridge, Mass., and its former keeper, the late E. H. Wilson, who passed away in October, and who was known as "Chinese" Wilson from his travels and long residence in China. Mrs. P. T. Burrows suggested that the department send to the new keeper and ask for seeds from rare plants to be used in Davenport gardens and public park as experimental plantings on this Mississippi Valley region."
"[Then,] Mrs. Mathilde P. Koehler spoke on "Famous Gardens." Mrs. Koehler [who] has traveled extensively told of the wonderful gardens one finds in different parts of the United States...
She also paid a tribute to the late John Temple, a well-known florist of Davenport and told of the lilac tree which he had planted in her garden, this being one of [only] a few in [this] city."
"[Finally,] Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Cassling gave songs to the accompaniment of Miss Lois McDermott at the piano. [And] decorations were of prettily trimmed Christmas trees."
Now that's a meeting!
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."
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