January 1, 2020 Mistletoe, New Plant Finds, Thomas Moore, Cythna Letty, Martinus Beijerinck, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life by Carol J. Michel, Garden Mattock by Raw Tools, and the Kent Mango

Show Notes

Today we celebrate the Chelsea Physic Garden Curator who was partly responsible for the British Fern Craze and the botanical illustrator whose art ended up on South African currency.

We'll learn about the man who discovered the virus researching tobacco plants and the English architect who partnered with Gertrude Jekyll to design Country Estates.

Today’s Unearthed Words feature garden-inspired poetry from the English gardener and writer Thomas Moore.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that will make you feel like you’ve made a garden friend.

I'll talk about a great garden item that is made from repurposed weapons.

and then we’ll wrap things up with the origin story of the Kent mango.

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



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Curated Articles

The Herbs of Christmas by Mother Earth Living @mthrearthliving

“Learn which herbs help welcome us into the holiday season The botanical trappings of the season have proven astoundingly consistent throughout the past several thousand years.” Naturally, they discussed the holly and the ivy and the poinsettia. But, they also discussed the mistletoe. They explained:

"Mistletoe called for a gesture of conciliation—usually a kiss. Under the original rules, a berry must be picked for each kiss."

After all the berries were removed, the sprig was taken down and replaced with a new one.


Superglue plant and ‘miracle berry’ among 2019’s new finds by @dpcarrington @guardian

As we welcome the new year, here's a nod to a handful of the plant discoveries made in 2019. @Kew scientists officially named 102 plants & 8 fungi in 2019 - including a shrub that oozes superglue and cancer-fighting fungi. A new species of Snowdrop was spotted on #Facebook!


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.


Important Events

1887  Today is the anniversary of the death of the gardener, naturalist, and Chelsea Physic Garden curator Thomas Moore.

Before Moore worked at Chelsea Physic Garden @ChelsPhysicGdn, he spent four years at Fraser’s Lea Bridge Nurseries, Leyton from 1839-1842.

Moore wrote several books on horticulture - many reflected his lifelong passion for ferns. In 1848, the year he started at Chelsea Physic Garden, he wrote the 'Handbook of British Ferns.’ His maniacal focus on ferns led to the creation of a Fernery in the garden and inspired the Victorian Fern craze or "Pteridomania". Twelve years after his first book on ferns, his love was still going strong and he wrote British Ferns and Their Allies in 1869.

Thomas is remembered for these wonderful quips like: “The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden,” or “Garden as though you will live forever.”

My favorite Thomas Moore quote is about rosemary. He wrote,

“As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls...because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship.”


1895  Today is the birthday of the South African botanical artist Cythna Letty. Letty’s mom was a painter and she gave Cythna her first lessons on painting and sketching.

As a small girl, she began creating a book that illustrated all of the flowering plants of her homeland. It took her a lifetime to finish the work and it was finally published in 1962.

Letty captured the wildflowers of Africa with detail and grace. She worked for the Botanical Institute in the Department of Agriculture in South Africa. Based in Pretoria.

In the 1960s as South Africa moved from the English sterling system, Cythna’s work was selected for three coins in South African currency. The 10-cent coin featured the Aloe, the 20-cent featured the Protea which was the National Flower of South Africa. And the 50-cent flower featured the Agapanthus.

Cythna wrote poetry as well. She once wrote:

“I hitched my wagon to a daisy
Direction vague and destination hazy
But, could any star have guided me
more exactly to where I most dearly loved to be?”


1931 Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist Martinus Beijerinck (pronounced “by-a-rink”). Beijerinck searched for the reason tobacco plants were dying.

In his research, Beijerinck ground up some diseased tobacco leaves and then pressed the juices through a bacteria filter. He was utterly shocked when the filtered, bacteria-free liquid still spread the disease.

After reviewing his experiment, Beijerinck concluded that a "contagious living fluid" was the culprit. It was a disease-carrying micro-organism that was smaller than bacteria and he called it a virus, the Latin word for poison."

Today, two of the most common viruses are the flu and the common cold.


1944  Today is the birthday of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens ("Lutchins"). Edwin went by Ned.

When Ned was almost forty, he was hired to work on a house for the great garden designer and horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll. It was the beginning of a professional collaboration and friendship that had profound effects on the English country garden. Jekyll and Ned created some of the greatest Edwardian gardens in the world. Lutyens reflected on the work of a garden designer when he wrote:

“No artist has so wide a palette as the garden designer, and no artist is in greater need of discretion and reserve.”

When Jekyll introduced Ned to the founder of Country Life Magazine, Edward Hudson, she created another invaluable source of synergy for his work. Hudson greatly admired Ned’s work and he became a vital patron. He regularly shared Ned’s work in his magazine, he commissioned Ned to design numerous jobs for his many homes, and he even had Ned design the new office space for the magazine.

The home Lutyens designed for Hudson known as Deanery Garden is arguably his best country home. It’s now owned by Led Zepplin guitarist Jimmy Page.


Unearthed Words

After researching the Chelsea Physic Garden curator Thomas Moore for today’s show, I thought you’d enjoy a few of his delightful poems. 


In 1805, Moore was inspired by a rose specimen called ‘Old Blush’ and wrote a poem called The Last Rose of Summer:

Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.


Moore wrote this verse about the tuberose also known as a Night Violet or Dame's Violet (Hesperis matronalis):

The tuberose, with her silvery light,
That in the gardens of Malay
Is called the Mistress of the Night,
So like a bride, scented and bright;
She comes out when the sun's away.


And, here’s a lovely verse from Moore about Jasmine (Jasminum officinale):

From plants that wake when others sleep,
from timid jasmine buds that keep
their odor to themselves all day,
but when the sunlight dies away
let the delicious secret out
to every breeze that roams about.


Grow That Garden Library

Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life by Carol J. Michel

The subtitle to Carol’s book is Living a Gardening Life and it came out in February of 2017. Potted and Pruned won the 2018 Garden Media Awards Gold Medal for Best Overall Book.

As someone who has a large garden library, one of the things I love about Carol’s delightful little book, Potted and Pruned, aside from the title and all the wonderful stories inside, is the cover - it’s a verdant green.

Is there any other color more suited to a garden book? I think not. Yet, you wouldn’t believe how few garden books are actually green nowadays.

Beautiful green books like Carol’s are wonderful to have out during the holidays. But all year long, Carol’s book is really the perfect book to have by the bed in a guest room or at the cabin or just on an end table because it’s short and sweet - just 144 pages; and best of all, it is heartwarming.

To read Carol’s book is to feel like you’ve made a garden friend. Carol’s the kind of gardener that can laugh at her garden mistakes and she makes you feel like making mistakes is as natural as the garden itself. After all, how else are we to learn?

In her book, Carol has written 36 wonderful stories for gardeners. You’ll feel like you’re right beside her in her garden called May Dreams where some of her plants prove frustrating, where the weeds want her full-time attention and where new rare plants are always welcome. You’ll find inspiration as you read about how Carol handles drought or her practical pieces of advice that are sprinkled throughout the book.

Carol’s Book reminded of the book Gardener’s BedTime Stories - only shorter, sweeter, and more relatable. You can dip in and out of her stories and then drift off to dreamland where you’ll hopefully dream of your garden - your happy place.


Great Gifts for Gardeners

Here’s a very unique gift for gardeners; it’s the Garden Mattock from Raw Tools. 

Raw Tools makes garden tools from guns, in the spirit of beating swords into plowshares.

The mattock is a double-sided tool that meets a variety of needs when caring for your garden. It offers a hoe on one side and a fork on the other. The tool is made from about 5” of a rifle barrel. Every barrel gives us a different tool. Each is one of a kind and made by hand. The handle is 14″-18″, the hoe and fork are 6″-8″.

You can check out their amazing work here.


Today’s Botanic Spark

1933 On this day the Kent Mango (Mangifera indica) is planted on land belonging to Leith Dunlop Kent in Coconut Grove, Florida.

Kent was just a kid when he was given a little Brooks Mango seedling for Christmas. Six years later, Kent’s tree produced its first crop of mangos. The tree was a prolific and consistent producer. Kent brought some of the mangos to the Florida Mango Forum and the Kent Mango became a vital part of the commercial mango industry in Florida. By 1950, Kent was elected president of the Florida Mango Forum.

And, here’s a caution for gardeners when it comes to mangos. People can have a sensitivity to the peel and milky sap of the plant. It turns out that the substance, urushiol ("u-ROO-she-ol"), is also found in poison ivy, sumac, and poison oak.

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