Today we celebrate the amateur botanist who was a two-time governor of South Carolina and the birthday of a French modernist painter who left peonies.
We'll learn about the man who brought European grapes to California and the most important Prussian garden-artist of the 19th century.
Today’s Unearthed Words feature a poem about January.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that helps us truly see plants.
I'll talk about a garden item that is absolutely adorable, and they come in a six-pack so you'll have plenty for gifts,
and then we’ll wrap things up with a charming journal entry from one of my favorite garden writers.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
Check out this post featuring a preview of the Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show.
The English Garden @tegmagazine shared this great post about growing sprouts. Want a quick, tasty crop any time of year?
Micro-leaves and sprouting seeds are the answer. You don’t even need any special equipment! This is an excellent introduction to microgreens from @tegmagazine.
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.
1822 Today is the anniversary of the death of a two-time Governor of South Carolina, the founder of the University of South Carolina, a writer, and a botanist John Drayton.
Drayton grew up in Charleston, a hub of botanical activity. He knew the French royal gardener Andre Michaux and his son, who had settled in the area. The Michaux's introduced the camellias and Indian azaleas; Joel Roberts Poinsett, the man who discovered the Poinsettia, was also a son of Charleston. And, the gardener Chancellor Waddy Thompson and Benjamin Perry also helped to shape the horticulture scene in the Greenville area.
Drayton is remembered for his 1807 unpublished book “The Carolinian Florist.” Drayton listed almost a thousand plants, when they flowered, and where they could be found. Drayton presented his work to the South Carolina College library in 1807. The University South Carolina Society published it in 1943.
Drayton explored Paris Mountain and the Greenville Area. He discovered the fragrant yellow honeysuckle (Lonicera flava Sims “Lah-NISS-er-ah FLAY-vah”) - commonly known as yellow honeysuckle - growing on the south side of Paris Mountain.
The name Lonicera was derived from the name of the German herbalist Adam Lonitzer (1527-1586). The specific epithet "flava" and variations all reference the yellow ('flavus') or yellowish '(flavescens') color of the flowers. Honeysuckle is also known as woodbine or goat's leaf.
1832 Today is the birthday of the French modernist painter Édouard Manet (“Mah-nay”). His painting, 'Music in the Tuileries Gardens,' ("TWEE-luh-Reehs"), was his first significant work depicting modern city life.
Manet grew peonies in his garden at Gennevilliers (“Jen-vill-EE-aye”). They were reportedly his favorite flower. Manet’s paintings of peonies were the perfect marriage of his skill and the subject. Manet’s loose brushwork was perfect for the petals and leaves.
When the explorer Marco Polo saw peonies for the first time, he wrote that they were, “Roses as big as cabbages." In Chinese, the peony is known as the sho-yu, which means “most beautiful.” Traditionally, peonies are used to celebrate the 12th wedding anniversary. If you planted one on your Anniversary, the peony could outlive you. Peonies can live for over 100 years.
1862 Today, the Hungarian vintner, Agoston Haraszthy, brought 1,400 varieties of grapevines from Europe to California and planted the first vineyard in the Sonoma Valley in California.
Haraszthy's family was Hungarian nobility. Haraszthy had gotten hold of a book that reported the Wisconsin territory offered the finest land in America. So, in 1840, he immigrated to the United States. He quickly discovered Wisconsin was not the place for growing grapes.
In short order, Haraszthy made his way to San Francisco during the Gold Rush. But San Francisco was not a fit with the grapes, either. It was foggy and cold.
But then, in 1857, Haraszthy found the Sonoma Valley - called the "Valley of the Moon" by the writer Jack London. After a dozen years of searching, Haraszthy had found a place suitable for growing purple gold.
The Sonoma Valley was the perfect place to grow European grapes - which were more delicate and finicky than North American wild grapes. Giddy with hope, Haraszthy built a white villa for his wife and six children on a property he named Buena Vista or “Good View.”
Haraszthy also brought many European growing methods to his estate in California. First, he grew the grape plants closer together. This was something other growers found unwise. But Haraszthy knew that growing grapes near each other stressed the vines, which in turn, made better-tasting grapes.
Second, Haraszthy was the first vinedresser to grow his grapes on the mountainsides in California. There is an old saying that the God of wine, Bacchus, loved the hills. Well, Haraszthy’s grapevines loved them, too.
Finally, Haraszthy performed a green harvest - something no one had ever heard of - Least of all Haraszthy’s neighbors. Today the technique is known as dropping fruit; it merely means doing an initial early harvest of some of the grapes. The benefit of fewer grapes on the vine is that it improves the flavor of the remaining grapes.
Haraszthy also brought in a team of Chinese laborers, and they worked to dig out the first wine caves in the state. The most impressive accomplishment included a 100-foot-deep stone wine cellar built on the side of a hill.
In 1863, Haraszthy incorporated his vineyard as the Buena Vista Vinicultural Society. Thanks to investors, Haraszthy purchased an additional 4,000 acres making Buena Vista the second largest vineyard in the state.
In 1866, a vine disease swept through the area. Haraszthy’s neighbors reactively blamed his unique growing methods for the small tasteless grapes and the brown, dying vines. In reality, the disease was Phylloxera, which is caused by an aphid that attacks vine roots. Phylloxera causes grapes to harden on the vine. It wiped out Buena Vista. Haraszthy filed for bankruptcy.
With his vineyard and his reputation in tatters, Haraszthy went south to Nicaragua. He planted a massive sugar plantation, and he planned to make and sell a new beverage: rum. But, on July 6, 1869, as he was reaching for a vine while crossing a river on his property. He lost his balance, fell into the river, and was eaten by an alligator.
Today, Haraszthy is remembered as “The Father of California Viticulture” (Wine-Making). In 1946, a plaque to Haraszthy was dedicated on the plaza of Sonoma. In March 2007, Haraszthy was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame by the Culinary Institute of America.
1866 Today is the anniversary of the death of Prussian landscape architect and gardener Peter Joseph Lenné ("Linny").
Lenné is regarded as the most important Prussian garden-artist of the 19th century. He was the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Berlin and Potsdam. Peter came from a long line of gardeners. In many respects, his accomplishments mirror those of his younger colleague across the ocean, Frederick Law Olmsted.
Lenné cofounded a Royal Horticultural Society in Germany. He worked tirelessly designing parks and landscape areas with green spaces. Lenné admired William Kent, whom he named “the father of the new landscape architecture.” Lenné established English landscape garden designs in Germany. Many of his designed spaces are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Lenné’s legacy includes over 100 designed spaces from including parks, gardens, canals, and avenues. Rauch memorialized Lenné with a large bust in the garden of the new palace in Potsdam. The Magnolia Lenne variety was named in his honor.
Today, the Peter-Joseph-Lenné-Prize of Berlin awards fresh and creative ideas for design, planning, and use of plants in garden architecture and landscape planning.
2009 The Denver Post reported that a retired English professor and amateur botanist named Al Schneider and a Colorado State University Botany student named Peggy Lyon discovered a new plant in the Asteraceae, or sunflower, family and it was called Gutierrezia elegans. ("Goo-tee-ah-REEZ-ee-ah")
Al and Peggy named their variety “elegans” for its elegant qualities of symmetry. The common name of the plant that Al and Peggy discovered is the Lone Mesa snakeweed.
The Spanish botanist Mariano La Gasca, who originated the Gutierrezia genus named in honor of the apothecary and professor Pedro Gutiérrez Bueno.
Gutierrezia is a group of flowering plants native to western North America and western South America. Native peoples have regarded this plant family as an essential source of medicine, and plants of this genus are known generally as snakeweeds or match weeds.
The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor
And parkas pile up
Near the door.
The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees' black lace
The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
Purrs all day.
— John Updike, January
Grow That Garden Library
Richard Mabey has a passion for plants that come through in this beautiful book called The Cabaret of plants. As a naturalist, Richard says, he has written,
"a story about plants as authors of their own lives and an argument that ignoring their vitality impoverishes our imaginations and our well-being.”
Mabey is a naturalist with the voice of a poet. Mabey challenges ordinary perceptions of plants: that they are inactive, that they are background, or that they are simply props for the outdoors. Like Peter Wohlleben, Mabey sees these plants as having a self.
"The Cabaret of Plants" is loaded with beautiful stories and tidbits from science, literature, and botany. It's engaging and challenging and inspiring.
Mabey has been interacting with the natural world for over four decades. His 1972 book called “Food for Free” was revolutionary and taught readers how to forage.
This book came out in 2015. You can get a used copy of The Cabaret of Plants by Richard Mabey and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for under $5.
Great Gifts for Gardeners
Great decor for desk, bookshelf, dining table, living room, hosting room, etc. Great gift idea for friends and family who love indoor gardening/succulents/cactus/cacti
Mini unique succulent pots, they’re perfect for showing your lovely succulent. Adding a touch of animal forest accent to your house and create your own little urban jungle with these cute owl succulent planters.
Meticulously handcrafted and glaze firing, smooth glaze, and bare clay create an interesting visual contrast. Due to handcrafted, every owl planter’s glaze is different, but overall is consistent
The six pcs mini owl planters are made of superior quality and breathable ceramics baked in high temperatures, which are good for your plants
Each mini plant pot has its own unique owl face. Those little button eyes and beaks will make you smile every time you see your adorable owl succulent pots.
Today’s Botanic Spark
1942 Today the garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence wrote to her friend, the playwright, Ann Preston Bridgers:
“We had thin toast and your wild strawberry jam for tea this afternoon by the fire in my studio...
Bessie and I took a salad and a pan of rolls and went to have supper with your family last night. Mrs. B. insisted upon adding both ham and chicken. We had [Ann’s mountain friend] Blanche’s walnuts for dessert. And Robert and I made Cleopatras, not so good, somehow, like the ones at Christmas…
I must put the puppy to bed before he chews up all the files of Gardening Illustrated.”
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