Today we celebrate the ending of the 1675 coffee shop ban in England and the birthday of a man who devised his own theory of evolution independently of Charles Darwin.
We'll learn about one of the fiercest Dutch conservationists and the nurseryman who created the world’s most excellent arboretum.
Today’s Unearthed Words feature fabulous one-liners about January.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that helps us grow houseplants - the official greenery of January and February.
I'll talk about a garden item that can help you relax,
and then we’ll wrap things up with the birthday of a plant wizard who brought the date palm to California.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
Great post from @thedanpearson about Dogwood & this helpful tip:
“Cornus takes easily from hardwood cuttings. Save prunings and plunge a few pencil-thick lengths into the ground by your mother plant. They will be rooted and ready to lift within a year.”
From @HouseBeautiful We can expect to see more warm palettes and soft neutrals in bouquets. "One particular shade, known as 'neo-mint,' is described as an 'oxygenating, fresh tone,' and expected to be seen much more throughout 2020.
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, search for Daily Gardener Community and request to join. I'd love to meet you in the group.
1676 On December 23, 1675, King Charles II issued a proclamation suppressing Coffee Houses in England. The edict lasted 16 days. The public response was so negative that he revoked it on this day, January 8, 1676.
1823 Today is the birthday of the British naturalist Alfred Wallace. Wallace developed his theory of natural selection quite independently of Charles Darwin - although he did send his theory to Darwin. Wallace’s work prompted Darwin to get serious about publishing his 20-year-old idea. In 1858, both Wallace and Darwin’s work was presented to the Linnaean Society.
Wallace published a remarkable book called The Malay Archipelago. The book is considered a classic and covers the flora, fauna, and folks native to the area - now known as Malaysia and Indonesia.
"Nature seems to have taken every precaution that these, her choicest treasures, may not lose value by being too easily obtained."
Wallace has been obscured by Darwin over the course of history. Yet, when he died at the age of 91, his obituaries praised him as an extraordinary figure. One obituary said,
"He was one of the greatest and brightest and clearest thinkers of his age...of one thing I am certain, and that is that never has anybody come more fully within my favorite description of a great man, namely, that 'he is a combination of the head of a man and the heart of a boy.'”
A forthcoming children's book about Wallace is titled Darwin's Rival: Alfred Russel Wallace and the search for evolution by Christian Dorian.
1945 Today is the anniversary of the death of the Dutch conservationist and botanist Jac P Thijsse. Jac founded the Society for the Preservation of Nature Monuments in Holland. His 60th birthday present was a wildlife garden in Bloemendaal near Haarlem.
After WWI, a Dutch food company by the name of Verkade (vare-Kah-dah) ask Jac to create some album books on the Flora of the Netherlands. Essentially, the books became a collector series Album with empty spots for photo cards, which were distributed individually with the biscuits. The Dutch would buy their biscuits, and then they would place the card in the space designed for it in the book. These albums were quite trendy among the Dutch and today sell for hundreds to thousands of dollars apiece today on auction websites.
Today in the Netherlands, there is a college named after Jac, and he always makes the top 100 Dutchman's list.
1985 Today is the anniversary of the death of conservationist and plantsman Harold Hillier.
In 1864, Hilliard's grandfather Edwin began the family Nursery. His son was supposed to take over the family business, but he died during the war, and so it fell to Edwin's grandson Herald to continue his legacy.
Harold immediately set about creating a public garden and arboretum alongside the nursery. The site was already home to some magnificent trees - some of which were at least 200 years old.
In an article from 2019, it was revealed that the Hillier Arboretum is home to the largest collection of Champion Trees in all of Britain and Ireland with a whopping total of 611 followed by Kew Garden with 333 Champion Trees.
Champion Trees fit into three categories being either the largest, the finest, or the rarest of their species. Today the Hillier Nursery is putting together a Champion Tree Trail throughout the Arboretum so that visitors can walk to each of the Champion tree specimens. Among some of the Champion Trees are specimen eucalyptus from Australia, rare pine trees from Mexico, and Sequoias from North America.
The Hillier Arboretum really began as a propagation holding place for the nursery. If a tree needed to be propagated, the nursery workers would just go out to the Arboretum and take a scion wood or seeds from the tree there. Similarly, if the nursery received some incredible rootstock or seed, they would sell most of it but hold some back for the Arboretum.
Today the 180-acre Arboretum is entirely separate from the nursery, and it features about 42,000 plants across 1200 taxa. the Arboretum features 11 National Plant Collections and has magnificent specimens of witch hazel and oak.
Hillier died just six days after his 80th birthday. Harold spent his entire life working to save rare and endangered trees and shrubs from Extinction. In 1978 he gifted the Hillier Arboretum with thousands of specimens in plants.
When asked by a reporter for his opinion on plant conservation, Hillier famously replied, "While others are talking about it, I am doing it, roots in the ground, planting, planting, planting."
Today’s Unearthed Words are incredible and unforgettable onliners about January.
January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.
— Sara Coleridge, English author
"Come, ye cold winds, at January's call,
On whistling wings, and with white flakes bestrew
— John Ruskin, an English art critic, and thinker
"Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius."
— Pietro Aretino (“Pee-et-tro Air-ah-TEE-no”), Italian author
O, wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
— Percy Bysshe Shelley, Romantic poet
In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.
— William Blake, English poet
When one reads a poem in January, it is as lovely as when one goes for a walk in June.
— Jean-Paul Friedrich Richter, German writer
"Nothing is as easy to make as a promise this winter to do something next summer; this is how commencement speakers are caught."
— Sydney J. Harris, Chicago Journalist
Grow That Garden Library
The resurgent interest in houseplants is due primarily to Millennials who are filling every nook and cranny in their homes with houseplants. Those smart millennials!
If you (like so many millennials) are filling your house with houseplants - especially during the winter season when they add so much - humidity, green, a touch of the outdoors, and clean air.
One of the things I appreciated the most about Lisa’s book is that she divided the 125 houseplants featured in her book into three helpful categories - Easy to Grow, Moderately Easy-to-Grow, and Don’t-Try-This-at-Home-It’s-A-Waste-of-Money-and-Time-and-You-Really-Need-That-New-Pair-of-Shoes. Just kidding. It’s actually just called Challenging to Grow. (Which doesn’t sound so bad now, does it? Still - be careful here.)
Now, guess which one Lisa and I spent the most time talking about when we chatted a while back? You’re right, again - the easy-to-grow category. Why? Because that’s where the sweet spot is. These plants give the best return on investment of your time and money. These are also the plants that will provide you with the most personal satisfaction.
Here’s what you are going to love about Lisa’s book: she’s down-to-earth, and she’s a conscious competent - she knows how to teach houseplants to anyone (even those without green thumbs!)
I’m also betting she must be an incredibly wonderful mom and wife because her understanding family has made room for over 1,000 houseplants thriving under Lisa’s care and supervision.
This book came out in 2017.
Great Gifts for Gardeners
Assembled here is a collection of outline illustrations inspired by the Fibonacci number sequence found in nature. They appear everywhere in nature, from the leaf arrangement in plants to the pattern of the florets of a flower, the bracts of a pinecone, or the chambers of a nautical shell. The Fibonacci Sequence applies to the growth of every living thing, including a single cell, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, and even all of mankind.
You can get the coloring book and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for under $20.
Today’s Botanic Spark
1892 Today is the birthday of the agricultural botanist and plant wizard Walter Tennyson Swingle.
Swingle was a very popular botanist during his lifetime. He made the news for several remarkable achievements in the world of horticulture. He introduced the Date Palm to California. He created many new citruses through hybridizing. In 1897, Swing made the first man-made cross of a Bowen grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine in Eustis, Florida.
In 1909, Swingle created the limequat, a cross between the key lime and the kumquat. That same year, Swingle created the Citrangequat, which is a trigeneric citrus hybrid of a citrange and a kumquat.
Swingle developed the Citrange, a combination of the sweet orange and the trifoliate orange. He was attempting to breed an orange tree that could withstand colder weather.
Swingle was born in Pennsylvania. His family quickly moved to Kansas, where he was home-schooled and ultimately educated at Kansas State Agricultural College. In short order, Swingle began working for the government at the United States Bureau of Plant Industry in the Department of Agriculture. The USDA immediately put him to work, sending him to nearly every country in the world.
Swingle brought Egyptian Cotton to Arizona and Acala Cotton to California. However, Swingle's most significant accomplishment was the introduction of the Date Palm to America. The Date Palm was something swingle discovered during a visit to Algeria. Swingle was intelligent and observant, and he noticed that the climate and soil in Algeria mirrored that of California.
Swingle was optimistic about the Date Palm's chances in California right from the get-go, writing:
“No heat is too great and nor air too dry for this remarkable plant, which is actually favored by a rainless climate and by hot desert winds. It is also shown that the date palm can withstand great quantities of alkali in the soil- more than any other useful plant…It is probably the only profitable crop that can succeed permanently.’
When the Date Palm arrived in California, the Coachella Valley was identified as the perfect spot to grow them. By 1920, over a hundred thousand pounds of dates were grown in California. Today, Dates are one of California's main exports. The total value of the Date crop is approaching $100 million every single year.
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SI HORTUM IN HORTORIA PODCASTA IN BIBLIOTEHCA HABES, NIHIL DEERIT.