January 9, 2020 Japan’s Winter Peonies, Andre Baranowski’s Garden Wild, Catherine Parr Traill, Elizabeth Gertrude Knight Britton, Beatrix Farrand, Marvin Gaye, Seed Catalog Poetry, The Lifelong Gardener by Toni Gattone, Jute Rope Plant Basket, and Silver Spoons

Show Notes

Today we celebrate an incredible woman, a true pioneer of Canada and a writer and botanical illustrator.

We'll learn about one of the most dedicated and famous bryologists, and she helped establish the New York Botanical Garden.

Today’s Unearthed Words feature wonderful thoughts on the gardener's favorite winter reading material - seed catalogs.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that helps us Garden through the back half of our lives.

I'll talk about a garden item that  will brighten up a corner in your cozy winter home

and then we’ll wrap things up with the most charming, memorable, and heartbreaking story, and I'm so glad I stumbled on it, and I am so excited to share it with you.

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



Apple | Google | Spotify | Stitcher | iHeart


Curated Articles

Japan's winter peonies (kan-botan) - IKIDANE NIPPON

Check out Japan's winter peonies. They aren't allowed to flower in the Spring/Summer and are forced to bloom in winter. Each peony is covered with a little straw tent. Kan-botan (寒牡丹) or Fuyu-botan (冬牡丹) means “winter peonies.”


Andre Baranowski's Garden Wild - Flower Magazine

New Book: Andre Baranowski’s Garden Wild.

One garden features Jorge Sánchez - who transplanted stumps of slash pines from Florida and added mosses. Ingenious.


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.


Important Events

1802   Today is the birthday of the Canadian-English writer and botanical illustrator Catherine Parr Traill - she was such an amazing woman.

When Catherine was 30 years old, she was newly married, and she immigrated with her husband to Canada. Her family wasn't thrilled about any of it. They didn't approve of her choice and husband, and they certainly didn't like the idea of her leaving England. Yet,  there she was in a boat on the river to Peterborough when she saw some Cardinal Flowers growing along the riverbank. Catherine was enthralled. The flowers in Canada were drastically different from those she'd grown up with, and her passion for wildflowers would help sustain her during the hardships of settling in the Wilds of Canada.

Catherine ultimately became known as the botanist of the Backwoods. Although she had never formally studied botany, her accomplishments were quite extraordinary. Catherine published a book called Canadian wildflowers. Her niece took care of the illustrations. The book was helpful and beautiful. It was bound together in a large folio with colored plates, which is now regarded as a rare and valuable antique book. One of the reasons the book is now so rare is that back in the mid-to-late 1800s, the book was used to decorate homes. Young mothers and wives would tear out the beautiful large hand-colored plates and frame them Dash, probably displaying them in their parlors or bedrooms.

Settling in the Backwoods of Canada nearly broke her husband. Clearing the land was backbreaking work the weather  Dash, especially during the winter, was incredibly harsh, and for the first three years, there was nothing to harvest. Although they were landowners, there was little labor around to help. One of their homes was destroyed in a fire, and another was seized by the bank to pay off debt. It was Catherine's General optimism and enthusiasm for the outdoors that carried her family through the hardest years. In all, Catherine spent 65 years in Canada. She raised nine children. Experts agree that her best work was a book called Backwoods of Canada that was intended to be a handbook for emigrating women. Catherine's tone was cheerful and direct.  Her entire life, Catherine was incredibly observant and resourceful, and she pulled those skills together as she created the content for her writing. Despite all the terrible hardships she and her family endured, Catherine was a prolific writer, and she always stayed sweet. Catherine died in her home at the age of 98.


1857   Today is the birthday of the famous bryologist Elizabeth Gertrude Knight Britton.

Elizabeth married the botanist Nathaniel Lord Britton. She was a teacher, and he was a professor of botany at Columbia University. Together, they helped create the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.  Their primary source of Inspirationtion was Kew Gardens in London.

Elizabeth was a bryologist. Bryology is the study of mosses. The root, bryōs, is a Greek verb meaning to swell and is the etymology of the word embryo. Bryology will be easier to remember if you think of the ability of moss to expand as it takes on water.

Uniquely skilled for her time, Elizabeth Britton was intelligent, resourceful, and not afraid to speak her mind. The author  Elizabeth Gilbert used the real-life Elizabeth Gertrude Britain as the inspiration for the heroine and her novel The Signature of All Things.

In researching Britton, Gilbert read through many of her letters and correspondence.  Gilbert said that “In one of her letters, a fellow botanist had sent her a species of moth he thinks he has discovered and wants to name after himself. But Britain replied something like,
‘Do your research, my friend; I've got 20 of these in my cabinet already.’”

Elizabeth Britton was also dedicated to conservation. In 1902, Elizabeth helped found the Wildflower Preservation Society of America.


2004  Today the Beatrix Farrand Society purchased the Garland Farm under the mission "to foster the art and science of horticulture and landscape design, with emphasis on the life and work of Beatrix Farrand." The goal was to preserve Garland Farm and Beatrix Farrand's final garden.

Beatrix was a landscape gardener and landscape architect in the United States.



1969  Forty-Nine years ago today “I Heard It Through The Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye hit the #1 spot on the charts. It stayed there for seven weeks.


Unearthed Words

Today’s Unearthed Words are all about seed catalogs. 

If you are a new gardener, welcome to the joy of curling up on the couch with a cup of coffee and a notebook and a seed catalog. If you’re a veteran gardener, you got this down. In either case, you’ll enjoy these verses and poems on a gardener’s favorite Winter activity: going through seed catalogs.


There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalogs.

Hal Borland


Aside from the garden of Eden, man’s great temptation took place when he first received his seed catalog.

 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807-1882, American poet


For gardeners, this is the season of lists and callow hopefulness;
hundreds of thousands of bewitched readers are poring over their catalogs, making lists . . . , and dreaming their dreams.

 Katharine White, “A Romp in the Catalogues,” The New Yorker, 1958, collected in Onward and Upward in the Garden, 1979


I read [garden catalogs] for news,
for driblets of knowledge,
for aesthetic pleasure,
and at the same time, I am planning the future -
so I read in dream.

 Katharine White, in The New Yorker, March 1, 1959, collected in Onward and Upward in the Garden


I have seen women looking at jewelry ads with a misty eye and one hand resting on the heart,
and I only know what they’re feeling because that’s how I read the seed catalogs in January.

 Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, 2007


I don't believe the half I hear,
Nor the quarter of what I see!
But I have one faith, sublime and true,
That nothing can shake or slay;
Each spring I firmly believe anew
All the seed catalogs say!

 Carolyn Wells


Grow That Garden Library

The Lifelong Gardener by Toni Gattone

The subtitle to this book is: Garden with Ease and Joy at Any Age.

Carl Honoré, the author of In Praise of Slowness, said this about Toni’s book:

“The secret to making the most of later life is to keep doing what you love. With practical advice and gentle inspiration, Gattone shows us how gardening can work for people of any age.”

As a Master Gardener, Toni teaches people how to garden all the time. One of the things she started noticing is that the majority of her students are seniors. As a senior herself, Toni quickly learned that adaptive gardening is a vital practice for people who want to continue to work in their Gardens as they age.

As Toni says

“My Generation, the Boomers, doesn't want to give up the things we love just because we're getting older. Never give up is our motto. My purpose for writing this book is to share what I've learned about how to keep gardening even when your back or knees are screaming at you.”

And Toni offers ten adaptive gardening rules to live by. I won't read all 10 of them to you, but I'll share a few to help you get the gist

  • One of the best things you can do for your body is stretched before you start gardening
  • Save money and time by planting perennials and shrubs instead of annuals
  • Finally, look for ways to make your gardening life easier - use self-watering containers  And by a Tool sharpener.


Great Gifts for Gardeners

Woven Jute Rope Plant Basket up to 10 inches Flower Pots Floor Indoor House Potted Plant Planters Pots Washable Storage Organizer Basket Natural Materials Handwoven Rustic Home Décor, 11×11 inches

  • Color: Black and Beige Stripes
  • Woven Rope Plant Basket – Turn Your Indoor Plants into Modern Home Décor
  • We’ve designed our woven rope plant basket using carefully selected premium-grade cotton and jute threads. We then expertly hand tightened wove them together to ensure the rope basket’s durability and stability. Pot and plant are not included.
  • Best Fits 10’’ Flower Pot - Measuring 11 inches in diameter and 11 inches in height approximately, this house plant potter can easily fit flower pots with a diameter of 10 inches or less. It also looks lovely with a variety of flowers, indoor trees, and succulents like fiddle fig tree, cactus, monstera plant, aloes, snake plant.
  • With the minimalist look and design of our big indoor potted plant planter, it’s ideal for adding a rustic yet modern touch to any room in your home, in office and hotel lobbies, restaurants, and many other places.
  • INCREDIBLY VERSATILE: While our woven basket makes a great plant potter, it’s also perfect to use as a storage bin to help keep your home organized. It can easily carry clothes, bed sheets, books, fruits and veggies, office supplies, and more.
  • EASY TO CARRY & STORE: Thanks to our rope basket’s concealed carrying handles on both sides, you can easily pick it up and move it anywhere you’d like. Plus, with its cotton and jute thread materials, it’s easy to fold and store away for later.


Today’s Botanic Spark

Today's profile of Catherine Parr Traill is quite something, and I ran across an adorable story when I was researching her (it's a little heartbreaking as well).

As I mentioned earlier, Catherine and her husband, Thomas, faced extraordinary challenges as settlers in the Backwoods of Canada. Whatever loveliness or dear possession they had brought with them from England ended up either ruined or sold or lost to them - one by one - in their great effort to survive.

At one point, the only thing Catherine had left was her prized possession of silver spoons. They had been in her family for generations. One day, Catherine realized her spoons were gone. Distressed and alarmed, Catherine discovered that her young son Willie admitted he had taken them, and he had planted them in the garden. When she asked him why he said he wanted to get "more poons" (he couldn't say his s's properly). In any case, the entire family went out into the garden and searched and searched - but never found the silver spoons.

But, I'm betting that every time Catherine worked in the garden, she was hopeful that she might run across them.

The Daily Gardener
Friday Newsletter

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Featured Book

Grow That Garden Library™ Seal of Approval 100x100 (1)

Ways to Connect with The Daily Gardener

What Listeners Say


"I just discovered you!
I googled garden podcasts and
I'm so glad I found the show.
I start every day with The Daily Gardener!"

"I love gardening.
I been gardening for over 40 years. 
A friend got me started on listening to gardening podcasts and yours just popped up. 
I am all the richer for it!"

"I've been a Still Growing podcast listener for years.

You are so welcoming and your voice is so soothing!
I love The Daily Gardener because it's different. I can't imagine how much work it is to make a show like this but I thank you for it."


"If you have a garden, a garden podcast, and a library,
you have everything you need."

Leave a Comment