Today we celebrate a bryologist who Asa Gray called, "a noble fellow" and the botanist who, along with his wife, helped found the New York Botanic Garden in the Bronx.
We'll learn about one of the first and most prolific professional female garden photographers and the female botanist with a mountain named in her honor.
Today’s Unearthed Words feature poetry that's all about using our imagination and memory when it comes to our gardens in the dead of winter.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that helps us appreciate our garden through our senses during all four seasons.
I'll talk about a garden item that is cute and functional and can be used outside of the garden as well,
and then we’ll wrap things up with the anniversary of the opening of the museum that was started with the estate of the botanist Sir Hans Sloane.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
Here are some great suggestions from Dave Allan about sweetly scented flowering shrubs for your Winter Garden:
- Take the small cream flowers of shrubby Lonicera fragrantissima (Common Name: sweet breath of spring): They suffuse the air with compelling fragrance. You know they’re frustratingly close but sometimes must act as a sniffer dog to track them down, hidden in a tangle of leaf-stripped twigs.
- I can’t see beyond Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn.’ It’s always a joy to have a whiff every time I pass by on the way up to the duck run. A flush of little buds readily replaces any that have been blasted brown by frost and snow. Viburnum farreri and V. tinus also faithfully flower from November to February.
- I’m thinking of shrubs like Mahonia japonica and M. x media (Common Name: Oregon grape-holly). These evergreens do boast highly scented sprays of the tiniest yellow buttons, so don’t banish them to the gloomiest corner just because they’re tough woodland edge plants. Why not plant them where you’ll actually see them?
From House Beautiful (ww.housebeautiful.com) | @hb:
“What are the best British garden shows to visit in 2020? From the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show to fringe events like Seedy Sunday, these gardening events are perfect for the green-fingered horticultural lover, regardless of whether you’re a budding beginner or a seasoned pro.”
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.
1803 Today is the birthday of William Starling Sullivant.
Sullivant was born to the founding family of Franklinton, Ohio. His father, Lucas, was a surveyor and had named the town in honor of the recently deceased Benjamin Franklin. The settlement would become Columbus. In 1823, William Sullivant graduated from Yale College. His father would die in August of that same year. Sullivant took over his father's surveying business, and at the age of thirty, he began to study and catalog the plant life in Central Ohio.
In 1840, Sullivant published his flora, and then he started to hone in on his calling: mosses. Bryology is the study of mosses. The root, bryōs, is a Greek verb meaning to swell. It's the etymology of the word embryo. Bryology will be easier to remember if you think of the ability of moss to swell as it takes on water. As a distinguished bryologist, Sullivant not only studied and cataloged various mosses from across the United States, but also from as far away as Central America, South America, and from various islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Mosses suited Sullivant's strengths, requiring patience and close observation, scrupulous accuracy, and discrimination. His first work, Musci Alleghanienses, was:
"exquisitely prepared and mounted, and with letterpress of great perfection; ... It was not put on sale, but fifty copies were distributed with a free hand among bryologists and others who would appreciate it."
In 1864, Sullivant published his magnum opus, Icones Muscorum. With 129 truly excellent illustrations and descriptions of the mosses indigenous to eastern North America, Icones Muscorum fixed Sulivant's reputation as the pre-eminent American bryologist of his time.
In 1873, Sullivant contracted pneumonia - ironically, an illness where your lungs fill or swell with fluid - and he died on April 30, 1873.
During the last four decades of his life, Sullivant exchanged letters with Asa Gray. It's no wonder, then, that he left his herbarium of some 18,000 moss specimens to Gray's beloved Harvard University.
When Sullivant was still living, Gray summoned his curator at Cambridge, Leo Lesquereux, (pronounced "le crew"), to help Sullivant, he wrote to his friend and botanist John Torrey:
"They will do up bryology at a great rate. Lesquereux says that the collection and library of Sullivant in muscology are Magnifique, superb, and the best he ever saw.'"
On December 6, 1857, Gray wrote to Hooker,
"A noble fellow is [William Starling] Sullivant, and deserves all you say of him and his works. The more you get to know of him, the better you will like him."
In 1877, four years after Sullivant's death, Asa Gray wrote to Charles Darwin. Gray shared that Sullivant was his "dear old friend" and that,
"[Sullivant] did for muscology in this country more than one man is likely ever to do again."
The Sullivant Moss Society, which became the American Bryological and Lichenological Society, was founded in 1898 and was named for William Starling Sullivant.
1859 Today is the birthday of the American botanist and taxonomist Nathaniel Lord Britton.
Britton married the famous bryologist Elizabeth Gertrude Knight. Together, they used Kew Gardens in London as their inspiration for the New York Botanical Garden.
An obituary of Britton, written by the botanist Henry Rusby shared this charming anecdote - an exchange that happened some few years back between Nathaniel and Henry:
"Attracted one day, by the beauty of some drawings that lay before him, I inquired as to their source. When told that he, himself, was the artist, I asked in astonishment, 'Can you draw like that?' 'Of course,' he said. 'What you suppose I did all that hard work in the drawing class for?'"
1864 Today is the birthday of Frances Benjamin Johnston - who always went by Fannie.
Fanny was a photographer, and she took the portraits of many famous people during her career. Some of her famous subjects included Mark Twain, Susan B Anthony, Booker T. Washington, and Teddy Roosevelt. In 1897 the magazine Ladies Home Journal featured in an article that was written by Fanny called "What a Woman Can Do with a Camera."
But gardeners should also know the name Frances Benjamin Johnston because Fannie also took incredible photos of gardens - public and private - during the early to mid part of the 1900s. Her garden photography of the elite was used in magazines and periodicals like House Beautiful and Country Life. And Fannie went around the country using lantern slides of gardens as visual aids for her lectures on topics like "The Orchids of the White House," "American Gardens," and "Problems of the Small Gardener," to name a few.
One newspaper account said Fannie, “presented with the enthusiasm of a true garden lover.”
Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. wrote that Fannie’s photographs were “the finest existing on the subject of American gardens.”
Over her career, Fannie was recognized as one of the first female press photographers in America.
And if you’re a gardening cat lover, you’ll be pleased to know she had two cats; Fannie named them Herman and Vermin.
1923 Today is the anniversary of the death of Sara Plummer Lemmon.
Lemmon is remembered for her successful 1903 piece of legislation that nominated the golden poppy (Eschscholzia californica) as the state flower of California. Asa Gray named the genus Plummera in honor of Sara Plummer Lemmon. Plummera is yellow wildflowers in the daisy family, and they bloom from July through September in southeastern Arizona.
Lemmon and her husband, John Gill Lemmon, were both botanists. Her husband always went by his initials JG. Although Sara partnered equally with her husband on their work in botany, their papers were always published with the credentials "J.G. Lemmon & Wife."
The Lemmons had found each other late in life in California. They had both suffered individually during the civil war. John was taken prisoner at Andersonville. He barely survived, and his health was impacted for the rest of his life. Sara had worked herself ragged - tending wounded soldiers in New York - while teaching.
In 1881, when Sara was 45 years old, the Lemmons took a honeymoon trip to Arizona. They called it their "botanical wedding trip." The Lemmons rode a train to Tucson along with another passenger - President Rutherford B. Hayes. When they arrived, the Lemmons set off for the Santa Catalina Mountains. In Elliot's history of Arizona, he recounts the difficulty in climbing the mountain range:
"The Lemmons often sat on the stone porch of their cave and dug the thorns and spines out of their hands and feet." Once, they saw, " . . . a lion so large he carried a huge buck away without dragging feet or antlers."
When they returned to Tucson unsuccessful and discouraged, they were told to meet a rancher named Emerson Oliver Stratton. Thanks to Stratton, they were able to ascend the Catalinas from the backside. When they arrived at the summit, Stratton was so impressed with Sara's drive and demeanor he named the mountain in her honor - Mount Lemmon. Sara was the first woman to climb the Catalinas. Twenty-five years later, in 1905, the Lemmons returned to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. When they climbed the Catalina's in celebration, Stratton was again at their side, helping them retrace the steps of their "botanical wedding trip" to the top of Mount Lemmon.
Today we hear some poetry about the importance of using imagination and memory in regards to our gardens during the winter months.
From December to March, there are for many of us three gardens -
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind's eye.
— Katherine S. White, Garden Author
Soon will set in the fitful weather,
with fierce gales and sullen skies and frosty air,
and it will be time to tuck up safely my roses and lilies
and the rest for their winter sleep beneath the snow,
where I never forget them,
but ever dream of their wakening in happy summers yet to be.
— Celia Thaxter, American Poet & Storyteller
Of winter's lifeless world each tree
Now seems a perfect part;
Yet each one holds summer's secret
Deep down within its heart.
— Dr. Charles Garfield Stater, Methodist Pastor & West Virginian Poet, Buckwheat Fields, and Brush Fences
Gardeners, like everyone else, live second by second and minute by minute. What we see at one particular moment is then and there before us. But there is a second way of seeing. Seeing with the eye of memory, not the eye of our anatomy, calls up days and seasons past, and years gone by.
— Allen Lacy, Garden Writer
In winter's cold and sparkling snow,
The garden in my mind does grow.
I look outside to blinding white,
And see my tulips blooming bright.
And over there a sweet carnation,
Softly scents my imagination.
On this cold and freezing day,
The Russian sage does gently sway,
And miniature roses perfume the air,
I can see them blooming there.
Though days are short, my vision's clear.
And through the snow, the buds appear.
In my mind, clematis climbs,
And morning glories do entwine.
Woodland phlox and scarlet pinks,
Replace the frost, if I just blink.
My inner eye sees past the snow.
And in my mind, my garden grows.
— Cynthia Adams, Winter Garden, Birds and Blooms magazine, Dec/Jan 2003
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2002, and the subtitle to Cultivating Delight is "A Natural History of My Garden.
This book was the sequel to Diane's bestseller, "A Natural History of the Senses."
In this book, Diane celebrates the sensory pleasures of her garden through the seasons in the same vein as Tovah Martin's "The Garden in Every Sense and Season."
Diane is a poet, essayist, and naturalist, and she writes in lyrical and sensuous prose. Let me give you an example. Here's how Diane starts her section on spring:
“One day, when the last snows have melted, the air tastes tinny and sweet for the first time in many months.That's settled tincture of new buds, sap, and loam; I've learned to recognize as the first whiff of springtime.Suddenly a brown shape moves in the woods, then blasts into sight as it clears the fence at the bottom of the yard. A beautiful doe, with russet flanks and nimble legs, she looks straight at me as I watch from the living room window, then she drops her gaze."
The Boston Globe praised this book, saying Ackerman has done it again... one of the most buoyant and enjoyable garden reads... uplifting and intelligent.
The New York Times review said:
“Understated elegance, lush language, historical and scientific nuggets, artful digressions, and apt quotations, Ackerman's book reminds us that we, too, can make our paradise here and that tranquility can be achieved by contemplating the petals of a rose.”
Great Gifts for Gardeners
I have a thing for aprons. I love looking for them.
I like to have my student gardeners use them, and I often get a set of aprons to bring to family gatherings. They make for cute pictures of us all working in the kitchen together. This year for the garden, I found this adorable shamrock-green buffalo-check apron, and it's perfect for my student gardeners. It has a little pocket in the front for their phones, and it's so cheerful. I can't wait to see them all and their aprons.
Now, if you're not a fan of shamrock green, but you do like buffalo plaid, this apron comes in several colors. You can get red and white, or red and black, pink and white, blue and white, a tone on tone gray, and a black and white. So, tons of options
- ONE SIZE FITS MOST: The apron measures 32" x 28", with an adjustable extra-long strap to warp around the neck and waist, one size fits most men and women.
- EASY CARE LONG-LASTING MATERIAL: 100% Cotton Fabric, Machine Washable. Wash with Cold Water in Gentle Cycle & Tumble Dry Low. Do not bleach them or run them through a hot dryer
- A PERFECT GIFT WITH CUSTOMIZED LOGO SPACE: Plenty space for logo printing, monogram, and embroidery make the apron a great gift for birthdays, Mother's day, holidays, housewarming, and hostess gifts.
Today’s Botanic Spark
1759 The British Museum opened. (261 years ago).
The British Museum was founded in 1753 when Sir Hans Sloane left his entire collection to the country of England.
At first glance, a personal collection doesn't sound worthy of starting a museum. But over his lifetime, Sloane ended up becoming a one-man repository for all things relating to the natural world.
Sloane outlived many of the explorers and collectors of his day, and as they would die, they would bequeath him there herbariums and collections. So when Sloane passed away, he essentially had become the caretaker of the world’s Natural History, aka the British Museum.
Today the British Museum is the largest indoor space captured by Google Street View. Google mapped the museum in November of 2015, and so it's now available online to all of us.
When your friends ask you what you're doing, you can say,
"I'm going to tour the British Museum. What are you up to?"
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