Today we celebrate the Swiss botanist who started a botanical Dynasty and the man who coined the term osmosis.
We’ll learn about the American landscape architect who made England his home and cheered on so many gardeners with his book Successful Town Gardening.
Today’s Unearthed Words feature words about winter.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about hunting for medicinal plants in the Amazon.
I’ll talk about a garden item to help you get growing
and then we’ll wrap things up with the early spring warm-up of 1931 - it was extraordinary.
But first, let’s catch up on a few recent events.
American gardens: an American garden in Bath by Gardens Illustrated @gdnsillustrated
What is an American garden? Discover more with our focus on the new garden at the American Museum and Garden in Bath
Weeds to love and loath, an excerpt from Wild about Weeds by @JackWallington
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.
1778 Today is the birthday of the Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle.
Candolle named hundreds of plants. His seven-volume monumental work, Prodromus, was an effort to characterize all of the plant families and establishing the basis for the science of botany. He only finished two volumes. Augustin’s Candolle descendants would finish Prodromus after extensive and detailed research. His famous son, Alphonse, was born the year Linnaeus died. In 1855, Alphonse was awarded the Linnean gold medal.
Augustin’s grandson, Casimir, was devoted to the study of the pepper plant family or the Piperaceae ("PIE-per-aye-see-ee"). The most commonly-known species in the family is Piper nigrum ("PIE-purr NYE-grum") - a flowering vine that gives us peppercorns that are ground to become black Pepper. The biggest consumer of Pepper, at almost 20% of the world’s total Pepper crop, is the United States. During the middle ages, pound for pound peppercorns was worth more than silver.
Augustin de Candolle’s great-grandson, Richard Émile, was also a botanist. He died unexpectedly at the age of 51. After his death, the enormous Candolle family herbarium and Library - built over four generations was donated to the city of Geneva.
Augustin’s great living legacy is the Botanical Garden of Geneva.
1847 Today is the anniversary of the death of the French botanist and physiologist Henri Dutrochet.
After studying the movement of sap in plants in his home laboratory, Dutrochet discovered and named osmosis. Dutrochet shared his discovery with the Paris Academy of Sciences on October 30th, 1826.
Like the cells in our own human bodies, plants don’t drink water; they absorb it by osmosis.
Dutrochet also figured out that the green pigment, chlorophyll, in a plant is essential to how plants take up carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis could not happen without chlorophyll, which helps plants get energy from light. And chlorophyll gives plants their color. Have you ever asked yourself why plants are green? Long story short, chlorophyll reflects green light, which makes the plant appear green.
Dutrochet was a true pioneer in plant research. He was the first to examine plant respiration, light sensitivity, and geotropism (How the plant responds to gravity, ie, roots grow down to the ground.)
The upward growth of plants against gravity is called negative geotropism, and downward growth of roots is called positive geotropism. The plant part that responds to positive geotropism is at the very end of the root, and it is called the root cap. So, what makes the roots turn downward as they grow? The root cap - responding to positive geotropism.
1879 Today John H. Heinz received a patent for an improvement to Vegetable-Assorters - the machines used for sorting produce like fruits, vegetables, etc.
I, myself, have created some excellent vegetable sorters - their names are Will, Emma, PJ, & John.
1912 Today is the birthday of the American landscape architect, consummate plantsman, and writer who made England his home - Lanning Roper.
When Vita Sackville-West read Lanning’s book Successful Town Gardening she wrote,
“The book I have been reading, and which has cheered me up so much as to the answers I can in future return, is called Successful Town Gardening by Lanning Roper.”
Today, Lanning’s book is regarded as a classic garden book. Many people use the wintertime as a chance to reconnect with the garden and dream about the following season as they read or reread Successful Town Gardening.
Lanning’s grandfather was William Hartley Eveleth, who served as the Superintendent of the college grounds for Harvard University and Radcliffe College. Lanning, himself, went to Harvard and graduated in 1933.
After Harvard, Landing enlisted in the Navy, and he ended up in charge of division 67, which is where he found himself on D-Day. After D-day, Lanning had a six-week deployment near the great Rothschild estate. He fell in love with the rhododendrons, the woodland, the gardens, and England.
He decided to train as a gardener at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and then pursued more training at Edinburgh (ED-in-bruh).” He began working as an editor for the Royal Horticultural Society. And In 1952, Lanning fell in love with a woman named Primrose. Primrose Harley. She was a muralist and a gardener. Her parents had named her Primrose because she was born on Primrose Day, April 19th, 1908. Primrose worked with Lanning on his many landscape projects.
When it came to his gardens, Lanning wanted romance. Known as the father of borders, Lanning liked to see flowers spilling into paths - like lavender and roses. He wanted walls to be covered in vines - and more roses. As a designer, Lanning had a knack for creating beautiful hardscapes like paths and walkways. But, Lanning also cautioned about planting too much. He said,
“Over-planting is a fault common to most gardeners. If you plant three shrubs that will grow quickly to fill an area where one alone would have been sufficient, two things may happen. If you remove two, the remaining one is in the wrong place. If you leave all three, they perhaps will be poor specimens, lacking the characteristic natural grace of the species.”
Lanning designed nearly 150 gardens during his career. His work has mostly joined the many gardens that can only be seen through pictures or through the words that sang their praises. In 1987, Jane Brown wrote the only volume on Lanning Roper and his gardens. It it loaded with beautiful images of Lanning's gardens. You can get a used copy of Lanning Roper & His Gardens and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today’s Show Notes for under $6. But hurry, because I predict there won’t be many left of this gem in the coming decades.
At the end of his life, Lanning was picked to completely redesign the garden at a new estate called Highgrove, which had recently been purchased by Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Camilla Parker Bowles had recommended Lanning; he had beautifully designed her parents’ garden in the 1960s.
Lanning noted that,
“the soil at Highgrove is alkaline, very different to the acid soil of the gardens which Prince Charles is used to at Windsor, Sandringham, and Balmoral where rhododendron and azalea flourish.”
“Highgrove is ideal for lilac, roses and flowering shrubs, which make some of the prettiest gardens [and] Prince Charles [wanted Highgrove, his first garden,] to be fragrant.”
Sadly, Lanning never had the chance to do the work, his cancer was taking a toll, and he declined the job.
It was Lanning Roper who said,
“People like myself are lucky to follow a profession which is so absorbing, satisfying, and pleasurable that at times it is not easy to decide where work ends and recreation begins.”
Here are some words about winter:
In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity. Summer is more wooing and seductive, more versatile and human, appeals to the affections and the sentiments, and fosters inquiry and the art impulse. Winter is of a more heroic cast, and addresses the intellect. The severe studies and disciplines come easier in winter.
— John Burroughs, American naturalist and nature writer
Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.
— Paul Theroux, American travel writer, and novelist
How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose if there were no winter in our year!
— Thomas Wentworth Higginson, American Unitarian minister, and abolitionist
He knows no winter, he who loves the soil,
For, stormy days, when he is free from toil,
He plans his summer crops, selects his seeds
From bright-paged catalogs for garden needs.
When looking out upon frost-silvered fields,
He visualizes autumn’s golden yields;
He sees in snow and sleet and icy rain
Precious moisture for his early grain;
He hears spring-heralds in the storm’s ‘turmoil
He knows no winter, he who loves the soil.”
— Sudie Bower Stuart Hager, Idaho’s Poet Laureate, He Knows No Winter
Grow That Garden Library
The subtitle to this book is: Hunting for Medicinal Plants in the Amazon
This memoir features Nicole Maxwell who was hunting for medicinal plants in the rainforest. Despite setbacks and disillusionment, she never lost sight of her goals.
Maxwell, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, was scouring the Amazon rainforest for clues to ancient medicinal plants and practices.
Maxwell has created an appendix that catalogs all of the plants mentioned in the text, with their scientific names, the names by which they are known locally, and their medicinal uses. This edition also includes a new introduction by the noted ethnobotanist Terence McKenna.
“A spirited and engrossing personal narrative, as much about people and places, discomforts, and dangers, the beauty of the jungle."
Great Gifts for Gardeners
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Today’s Botanic Spark
1931 On this day newspapers were reporting a shocking headline from Brainerd, Minnesota: Pansies In Bloom:
“A bed of pansies came into full bloom today in a farm garden near Brainerd, the center of a section famous for severe winters. Other February oddities: Lilac trees were budding. Girls were playing tennis. Boys were shooting marbles. Men were pitching horseshoes. The temperature was climbing toward 60 above.”
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