Today we celebrate the 17th-century renegade who wanted medicine through herbs to be accessible to the people and the Anniversary of the day Indian tea became available for sale in England.
We will learn about the American landscape gardener whose superpower was framing a view and the English sculptor who famously said I am the landscape.
Today’s Unearthed Words feature words from Henry David Thoreau - It turns out it was super cold 164 years ago today.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that features a beloved poet gardener or gardener poet - whichever you prefer.
I'll talk about a garden item that encourages experimentation and facilitates some indoor growing fun in your kitchen,
and then we’ll wrap things up with the first full moon event in 2020. It's happening today.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
The article features a beautiful, quiet winter garden with Charlotte Moss. A photo shows an urn standing like a sentry in the after-the-snowfall stillness of New York’s Gramercy Park.
“Reduced to a skeletal state, a garden in winter gives our imaginations an opportunity to explore those possibilities. It allows our eyes the chance to be a paintbrush devising new color schemes and filling in borders. On the other hand, we may choose to simply enjoy the bones of the pleached hedge, the peeling bark of the crape myrtle, remnants of bittersweet, and viburnum berries. Early morning walks reveal piles of oak leaves silver-plated with frost and holly trees standing boastful and defiant in a blaze of color.”
Good news for Elm trees. Karen Russell says,
"With the right people in the right place and the funding, we can put elm back in the landscape.
Mature specimens have been identified that are hundreds of years old, and have mysteriously escaped the epidemic. And a new generation of elm seedlings are being bred, which appear to be resistant to the disease."
“More than 20 million trees died during the 1960s and 1970s from Dutch elm disease.
In the aftermath, the elm was largely forgotten, except among a handful of enthusiasts who have been breeding elite elms that can withstand attack."
- Known for its beauty, the elm has been captured in paintings by the likes of John Constable, while Henry VIII's warship, lost in 1545, was built partly from elm.
- Signs of Dutch elm disease include dead leaves on the tree, yellowing or other discoloration in autumn or spring and wilting leaves and young shoots
- Dutch elm disease is caused by a fungus spread by a bark beetle.
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.
1654 Today is the anniversary of the death of the English physician, botanist, and herbalist Nicholas Culpeper.
Culpepper was a non-conformist, and he was also a business owner. Ten years before his death, he found a spot in East London and open the doors to his own apothecary. Culpeper catered to the needs of the people. He took medical books that were written mainly in Latin and translated them into English. the masses were grateful. The medical community wasn't excited about this, and neither were the universities who had a monopoly on training doctors and holding medical information for their paying students.
Culpeper wrote one of the first books about the medicinal use of herbs. It was comprehensive and helpful, and for years, it was a sought-after resource. The book was initially known as the English physician, but in the ensuing years, it became known as The Complete Herbal or Culpeper's Herbal. For each herb and plant he featured, Culpeper provided both the Latin and the common name. He also told people where to find the plant, when it flowered, the astrological connections, and how the plant could be used medicinally. Culpeper provided this information for almost 400 different herbs and plants - and in so doing, he revolutionized the medical world.
1839 Today is the day that Indian tea became available to the British people. Unlike the tea from China, Britain was entirely in charge of Indian tea - from the planting to the exportation - and as a result, Indian tea was cheaper than tea from China. The Brits went wild for it, and they drank tea every day. It wasn’t long before tea became the official national drink of England.
Of course, none of this would have happened without Robert Fortune. Fortune drew the attention of The British East India Company, and they sent him to China. Fortune had a particular mission: get tea plants and figure out how to make tea for drinking. The English only knew what the final tea product looked like - they had no idea how it was made.
Fortune traveled to China incognito, dressed like a Mandarin. He had shaved the front of his head, and he had extensions sewn into the remaining hair on the back of his head - so he looked like he has this amazingly long ponytail. Then, he hired guides to do the talking for him. Since there was no national language, Fortune successfully flew under the radar of the emperor.
Once in China, Fortune immediately began visiting tea plantations. He learned the methods and ways of harvesting tea plants to make tea. He learned that green tea and black tea come from the same plant; it’s the processing method that makes different teas. Thanks to the Wardian case, Fortune was able to ship live plants to India. All told, Fortune managed to smuggle out 20,000 tea plants to India. He even managed to get some of the Chinese tea farmers (with their tools) to leave China and help set up tea production in India.
Sara Rose, one of the authors who has written a biography on Fortune, said that what Fortune accomplished was no less than the most significant single act of corporate espionage in the history of the world.
Today, China is still the top tea producer with over 2.4 million tons of production. Followed by India at a little less than half and then Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam make up the next spots. So, tea being grown outside of China is a direct result of Robert Fortune and India, as the number 2 tea producer in the world (behind China) was a feat that was accomplished in less than two centuries. And, again, it wouldn't have happened without Robert Fortune.
1839 Today the American horticulturist and landscape gardener Henry Winthrop Sargent married Caroline Olmsted.
A little over a year after marrying Caroline, Henry Winthrop (who was fabulously wealthy) bought a twenty-acre estate that overlooked the Hudson River. He christened it Wodenethe - a marriage of two old Saxon terms Woden (pronounced Woe-den) and ethe, which stands for woody promontory ( promontory is a point of high land that juts out into the sea or a large lake; a headland.)
Henry Winthrop’s most considerable influence was his friend Andrew Jackson Downing. One historian wrote,
"Had there been no Downing, there would have been no Wodeneth."
Downing was a renowned landscape designer, horticulturist, and writer, and his botanic garden was just across the river from Wodenethe.
In addition to Downing’s guidance, Henry Winthrop had vision and courage - two characteristics that are often found in master Landscape Designers. One of his first actions at Wodenethe was to remove trees and foliage that obstructed scenic vistas - that’s a scary proposition for many gardeners. Yet, Henry Winthrop was exacting when it came to vistas. This skill in framing a scene was Henry Winthrop's superpower, and he even created windows for his home that were shaped to maximize the view to the outside.
One story about Henry Winthrop's exceptional ability to create a view involves his son, Winthrop. One time a woman visited the Sargents, and when she looked out the window, she noticed little Winthrop out on the lawn. Henry Winthrop had created the view to look like the lawn extended out to the Hudson, creating a sense that there was a sharp dropoff - almost like the lawn ran out to the edge of a cliff.
Concerned for Winthrop, the lady visitor commented something to the effect of how SHE wouldn't let her own children play so close to that dropoff. Well, after that visit, Henry Winthrop would often have little Winthrop go out to the lawn with a fishing pole and pretend to fish off the edge. In reality, he was sitting a good mile away from the water's edge - quite safe on the flat earth. But, Henry Winthrop's masterful vista created an artful and beautiful illusion.
1903 Today is the birthday of the British sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth.
Barbara drew inspiration from nature, the shoreline, and the landscape., she was one of the most influential figures in the creation of Abstract Art in Britain.
In 1949, Barbara left London went to St Ives. For 26 years, she lived & worked at Trewyn studios, and she considered finding the studio 'a sort of magic.’ Barbara died in an accidental fire at her Trewyn Studios at the age of 72. She had been smoking in her bed. You can still see the scorch marks at Trewyn. A year after her death, her Trewyn studio became the Barbara Hepworth Museum. Following her wishes, both the Museum & Sculpture Garden opened to the public in 1976. People who visit the garden are stunned by the beauty, peace, and tranquility. Barbara would be pleased that people often describe Trewyn as a magical place. It’s a beautiful mix of art and nature. To see her working studio is absolutely incredible; it’s an extraordinary place.
It was Barbara Hepworth who famously said,
“I, the sculptor, am the landscape.”
“In the contemplation of nature, we are perpetually renewed.”
1856 Today Henry David Thoreau wrote in his diary:
“-2 degrees at breakfast time, but this has been the coldest night probably. You lie with your feet or legs curled up, waiting for morning, the sheets shining with frost about your mouth.
Water left by the stove is frozen thickly, and what you sprinkle in bathing falls on the floor ice.
The house plants are all frozen and soon droop and turn black.
I look out on the roof of a cottage covered a foot deep with snow, wondering how the poor children in its garret, with their few rags, contrive to keep their toes warm.
I mark the white smoke from its chimney, whose contracted wreaths are soon dissipated in this stinging air, and think of the size of their wood-pile, and again I try to realize how they panted for a breath of cool air those sultry nights last summer.
Realize it now if you can.
Recall the hum of the mosquito.”
Grow That Garden Library
Before Marta’s latest book on Emily Dickinson, she wrote this book.
As Marta points out at the beginning of this book, Emily Dickinson was a gardener. She grew up in a family of gardeners. Emily herself would send bouquets to friends, and she often slipped little flowers in two envelopes alongside her nearly 1,000 letters to friends and family.
Most people think of Emily as a poet or writer; they don't think of her as a gardener. The fact that Marta has written two books about Emily Dickinson's gardening passion is a clue to how vital the activity was in her life.
This first book of Marta’s is a sentimental favorite of mine. And I love that book is arranged by season.
In the section on Winter, Marta talks about the final years of Emily's life, which were a winter of loss. Her father died and then her mother. Emily referred to her house as a House of snow.
“I wish, until I tremble, to touch the ones I love before the hills are red - are gray - are white - are ‘born again’!
If we knew how deep the crocus lay, we never should let her go!”
Great Gifts for Gardeners
Back to the Roots is on a mission to undo food. In a college class, they learned mushrooms could grow entirely on spent coffee grounds. After watching hours of how-to videos & turning our fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, they eventually decided to give up our corporate job offers to become full-time mushroom farmers instead. What started as curiosity about urban farming has turned into a passion for undoing food & reconnecting families back to where it comes from.
- Grow delicious, gourmet oyster mushrooms right out of the box in just ten days! Just add water and watch them double in size each day. Perfect for tacos, pizza, soups, and salads.
- This kit has been ranked among top Holiday Gifts, Gardening Gifts, Teachers Gifts & Unique Gifts. It comes READY TO GIFT in beautiful packaging & will be sure to be THE gift of the year. Go ahead & treat yourself or a loved one today!
- EVERYTHING INCLUDED: Simply mist your kit with water, and you'll have gourmet oyster mushrooms in 10 days! Great gift for kids, teachers, foodies & gardeners - no green thumb needed! Includes spray bottle, Mushroom Discovery Book & STEM curriculum online.
- MADE IN THE USA & 100% GUARANTEED TO GROW: All Back to the Roots Indoor Gardening Kits are backed by this promise – if your kit doesn't grow as described, we'll replace it free of charge or provide a 100% refund.
- The Organic Mushroom Growing Kit works year 'round in any city - Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter! Just place the box near a window with indirect light, mist twice a day, and you'll see delicious, beautiful mushrooms growing within a week!
Today’s Botanic Spark
Today we celebrate the first full moon of the year, also known as the Wolf Moon. The Wolf Moon can be seen rising on the horizon, although it reaches peak fullness at 2:21 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Today's Wolf Moon will experience a partial lunar eclipse that will last four hours and five minutes. The lunar eclipse will only be visible from Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. India will have the best view.
January's moon is called the Wolf Moon - supposedly because wolves are hungry and more vocal in January. They often howl more frequently during the winter months.
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