January 22, 2020 The Wardian Case, Winter Garden Design Tips, Francis Bacon, Heinrich Muhlenberg, Caspar Wistar, The 1985 Cold Snap, Lessons From Winter In Poetry And Prose, By Pen & By Spade By David Wheeler, Esschert Garden Tool Belt, and Ellsworth Jerome Hill

Show Notes

Today we celebrate the birthday of the English Statesman who created “Garden walks” and the birthday of a man who is remembered by Muhly grass.

We'll learn about the man memorialized by a plant name that misspells his last name, and we'll also learn about the disastrous freeze for Florida growers that happened in the mid-1980s.

Today’s Unearthed Words feature poetry and quotes that teach the lessons we can learn from winter.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that shares terrific essays on the benefits of gardening.

I'll talk about a garden item that can definitely come in handy for gardeners, and then we’ll wrap things up with the story of a botanist who recognized that new species can always be discovered, even in areas previously explored.

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



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Curated Articles

The Wardian case: Botany game-changer | Kew

From @kewgardens The Wardian case: Botany game-changer:

It's incredible to think that the Wardian case was invented by British doctor and amateur naturalist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward in 1829 by complete accident...


Gardens: Winning ways for winter

Oodles of great tips for designing a Winter Garden from Anglesey’s assistant head gardener David Jordan:

One of Jordan’s favorite combinations is the shaggy-barked paperbark maple teamed with the variegated evergreen shrub Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ and the pink, scented blossoms of Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn.’ At Anglesey, the euonymus is cloud-pruned in summer to create a sinuous shape, but as Jordan points out, “It has adventitious roots, so you could grow it up the walls of a house and have it as a backdrop.”

Jordan also recommends the crab apple tree Malus ‘Evereste’ as a centerpiece to a winter border. “You get long, persistent fruit, and you can underplant with dogwood in red or orange that works with the color of the fruit. Underplant with snowdrops, then daffodils, and this takes you through to May when you get the flowers – that gives you a long window of interest.”

The winter garden recipe runs something like this: a tree with colorful or tactile bark – try Tibetan cherry (Prunus serrula), paperbark maple (Acer griseum) or Arbutus unedo, the strawberry tree – acts as an anchor for the rest of the planting; then add a mid-level shrub with scented flowers, colored stems or attractive leaves (dogwoods, euonymus, daphnes, viburnums or sarcococcas); finally, there’s the option of a low-growing ground cover (snowdrops and hardy cyclamen, or foliage such as bergenias or pulmonarias).


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

1561 Today is the birthday of the English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon.

Francis wrote a splendid essay called “Of Gardens.”

The essay contains many quotable thoughts on gardening - although the opening line is the most quoted.

“God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man; without which, buildings and palaces are but gross handiworks; and a man shall ever see, that when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men come to build stately sooner than to garden finely; as if gardening were the greater perfection. I do hold it, in the royal ordering of gardens, there ought to be gardens, for all the months in the year, in which several things of beauty may be then in season.”

In 1606, Francis introduced “Garden Walks” as a concept at Gray's Inn field. Bacon lived at Gray’s Inn, and during that time, the Inns were putting gates and fencing around their land to provide greater privacy and security.

It was in the gated field at Gray’s Inn where Bacon created his walk. People were enthralled with the idea. Along the walk, Bacon added flowers and trees like Violets and Primroses, Cherry Trees, and Birch. This whole notion of strolling through a pleasure garden was the 16th century equivalent of the modern-day habit of walking in a shopping mall for exercise.

In 1594, Francis Bacon said a learned man needs a garden, library, laboratory -- and a "goodly, huge cabinet" (of curiosities).

And, Bacon said,

"As is the garden - such is the gardener. A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds."


1785 Today is the day the American Lutheran Pastor and botanist Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg was made a member of the American Philosophical Society. He was always referred to by his second name Heinrich. The Muhlenberg family was a founding family of the United States, and Heinrich came from a long line of pastors. His father, Pastor Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg, was known as the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America. His brother was a major in the Revolutionary War, and his other brother was a Congressman.

Muhlenberg’s personal journals are a treasure trove of his thoughts on botanical self-improvement. He would write:

"How may I best advance myself in the knowledge of plants?”

And, Muhlenberg would set goals and reminders to challenge himself, writing:

“It is winter, and there is little to do . . . Toward spring I should go out and [put together] a chronology of the trees; how they come out, the flowers, how they appear,. . . . I should especially [take not of] the flowers and fruit.”

The grass Muhlenbergia was named for Heinrich Muhlenberg.

Muhly grasses are beautiful native grasses. They offer two incredible strengths in their plant profile: drought tolerance and visual punch. Muhly grasses are easy-going, and they grow equally well in harsh conditions and perfectly manicured gardens.

The Muhly cultivar ‘White Cloud’ offers gorgeous white plumes. When the coveted Pink Muhly blooms, people often stop to inquire as to the name of the beautiful pink grass. Then, Lindheimer’s Muhly makes a fantastic screen, and Bamboo Muhly commands attention when it is featured in containers.

All Muhly grasses like well-drained soil and full sun. If you plant them in fall, be sure to get them situated and in the ground at least a month before the first frost.

And here’s an interesting side note: Muhlenberg also discovered the bog turtle. In 1801, the turtle was named Clemmys muhlenbergii in his honor.


1818 Today is the anniversary of the death of the American physician Caspar Wistar ("Wiss-Star"), the Younger. 

His grandfather was also Caspar Wistar, so the Younger distinction helps people tell them apart. Wistar was a Professor of Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1777, Caspar Wistar treated the wounded during the battle of Germantown and decided he would pursue medical training.

Wistar had some pretty impressive friends: his best friend was probably Thomas Jefferson, and his most famous botany friend was probably Alexander von Humboldt.

During his life, every Sunday Night, Wistar would hold a salon - an open house - at his home on the corner of Fourth and Locust Street. His friends would stop by - along with any members of academia, or the elite or high society, along with other accomplished people who happened to be in Philadelphia that evening. They all knew that Wistar's house was the place to go to meet up with the best minds of the day.

The botanist Thomas Nuttall named the genus Wisteria in Caspar Wistar's honor (some people say Wistaria to reflect the proper spelling of Wistar's last name. Either is fine because guess what - the misspelling is preserved for all time under the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature). It's like one of my kid's birth certificates - it can be amended, but the original is wrong and will be until the end of time.

Wistar died of a heart ailment unexpectedly on January 18, 1818. His final utterance was: "I wish well to all mankind."

After Wistar died, his friends continued holding Wistar parties for a core group of 50 members. They would each take turns hosting, and the kept the tradition going for another forty years.

Today, Wistar ("Wiss-Star")is the name of The Wistar Institute, the nation's first independent biomedical research center. Today, they focus on cancer, infectious disease & vaccine research to benefit human health.


1985 Record-breaking cold temperatures damaged 90% of Florida's orange and grapefruit crop. Newspaper accounts sounded grim saying:

“A nightmare for citrus growers...The fourth killer cold wave in five growing seasons seized Florida's 760,000-acre Citrus Belt on Monday with an icy grip that growers said froze millions of oranges and could destroy thousands of acres of trees already weakened by the disastrous Christmas 1983 freeze.

Shocked by lows that fell to the low- and mid-teens throughout the northern two-thirds of the orange belt by Monday morning, growers said the latest in the string of freezes undoubtedly would end the careers of many of the state's 30,000 citrus growers.

"It's a nightmare come true: back-to-back 100-year freezes," said Marion County citrus-man John Futch.

A 100-year freeze is expected to occur only once every century. All-time low-temperature records were set across the state early Monday, including 19 degrees in Orlando and 17 degrees in Daytona Beach. Farmers as far south as Naples lost fruit and vegetable crops to the numbing cold. Citrus experts with Florida Citrus Mutual, the state's largest growers' organization with more than 15,000 members, said the low temperatures Monday rivaled

"Between last night and tonight, I don't think there'll be a tree alive in Hernando County when this is over," Dr. William Croom said Monday morning after surveying his 104-year-old, 110-acre grove on Powell Road.

"I'm not going to replant. I'll be 65 in March. That's just too late in life" to start over.

As the temperature fell to 15 degrees, Croom's grove foreman, Barney Parrott, and three other workers lighted 300 oil-fueled stack heaters among trees in an 8-acre section in an effort to salvage the healthiest portion of his grove.

"We'll be back out tonight, although I don't know if it'll do any good," he said Monday.


Unearthed Words

Today’s words are about the lessons we can learn from winter.


Spring passes, and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes, and one remembers one’s perseverance.

— Yoko Ono, Japanese-Multimedia Artist, Widow of John Lennon


People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy.

— Anton Chekhov, Russian Playwrite & Writer


One kind word can warm three winter months.

— Japanese Proverb


“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”

— John Steinbeck, American Author & Nobel Prize Winner


To shorten winter, borrow some money due in spring.

— W.J. Vogel


If there were no tribulation, there would be no rest; if there were no winter, there would be no summer.

— St. John Chrysostom ("kri-SOSS-tum"), Bishop of Constantinople


"Nature has undoubtedly mastered the art of winter gardening, and even the most experienced gardener can learn from the unrestrained beauty around them."

— Vincent A. Simeone ("Sim-EE-OH-nee"), Horticulturist


Grow That Garden Library

By Pen & by Spade by David Wheeler

This book features thirty-three essays From David Wheeler's passion project known as Hortus magazine (Which I just subscribed to).

Hortus provides expert information on plants and gardening, with articles focusing on gardens around the world. The essays explore the various benefits of gardening. They are written by multiple writers who share personal stories and lessons from the garden.

This book features essays from Robert Dash (who examines the overlap between gardening and poetry), Rosemary Verey (who shares thoughts on the courtyard gardens of Charleston), Hermia Oliver does the same with Flaubert's gardens; And, Dennis Wood reveals the joy of gardening after retirement.

These essays are an excellent source of good gardening advice: how to plant a scent garden ("Stick to a sunny, sheltered spot," advises Stephen Lacey), how to grow blue-hued gentians (seek out an acid soil, counsels Stephen G. Haw).

This book came out in 1991. You can get a used copy of By Pen & by Spade by David Wheeler and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for under $1.


Great Gifts for Gardeners

Esschert Design Garden Tool Belt, Gray & Green, $13.18

Adjustable green and gray garden tool apron. Deep pockets, adjustable belt, and compartments for markers make this apron a must for every busy gardener.

  • Tool Belt 13; 26 Inch 1; 482 Inch 13; 26In
  • Perfect For Use In The Garden Or Yard
  • Grey And Green Canvas Tool Belt With Plastic Clasps


Today’s Botanic Spark

1917 Today is the anniversary of the death of the Presbyterian minister, writer, and an American botanist Ellsworth Jerome Hill.

Ellsworth was born in Leroy, New York.

When Ellsworth was only 20 years old, one of his knees stopped working, and the doctor suggested he study botany. Ellsworth wood crawl from the house to the orchard, where he would pick a few flowers and then crawl back to the house to identify them.

And the following year, Ellsworth moved to Mississippi, where it was warmer, and he used two canes to assist with walking.

By middle age, Ellsworth met and married a young woman named Milancy Leach - who would become his indispensable helpmate. When he was lame, or when he didn't have the strength to complete all of his tasks as he collected specimens, Milancy would step in and finish the work for him.

By the time he was 40, Ellsworth had put his lameness behind him. In the back half of his life, he seemed to be able to manage his physical challenges and, with Milancy’s help, had learned how to cope with the symptoms.

In a touching tribute to Ellsworth after his death, the botanist Agnes Chase rote:

“Most of these collections were made while he walked on crutches or with two canes. He told me that he carried his vasculum over his shoulder and a camp stool with his crutch or cane in one hand. To secure a plant, he would drop the camp stool, which opened of itself, then he would lower himself to the stool and dig the plant. He recovered from his lameness but often suffered acute pain from cold or wet or overexertion. But this did not deter him from making botanical trips that would have taxed a more robust man – in the Dunes, I have seen him tire out more than one able-bodied man. “

It was Ellsworth Jerome Hill who said,

"In studying the flora of a restricted region, no matter how carefully it seems to have been explored, one is frequently surprised by new things...
No region can be regarded as thoroughly explored until every acre of its wild areas at least has been examined. Some plants are so rare or local or grow under such peculiar conditions that a few square rods or even feet may comprise their range."

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