Today we celebrate the Italian botanist who introduced coffee and bananas to Europe and the botanist who described new varieties of mums from China on this day in 1822.
We'll learn about the man who could see the capabilities of a landscape In the botanist who wrote encouraging letters to one of his students.
Today's Unearthed Words Feature sayings and poems about the winter mindset.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that helps you encourage different types of wildlife into your garden.
I'll talk about a garden item you'll use every spring if you like to grow plants from seed
and then we'll wrap things up with a cute little story that involves loganberries.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
Great Post on The Scent of Fear – the aphid alarm pheromone via @Entoprof
"Aphids, when perceiving a threat to their neighbors by a predator or parasite, flee the scene rapidly, by flight, if winged, on foot if not, or even by leaping from their host-plant to the ground below. "
A growing concern: is it ever OK to steal plant cuttings?
"At Potted Elephant, the thief cut tendrils of Philodendron, Variegated Monstera and Scindapsus from live plants in his greenhouse – some from Jarrell's personal collection of rare plants."
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.
1617 Today is the anniversary of the death of the 17th-century Italian botanist Prospero Alpini. Alpini introduced coffee and bananas to Europe. Alpini was also the first person to make observations about sexual differences in plants. The male and female flowers of the date palm, for instance, are borne on separate plants. This knowledge allowed Alpini to become the first person to fertilize the female flowers of the date palms artificially. Date palms were popular garden plants in Roman gardens. The fruit is very useful and is the basis for syrup, alcohol, vinegar, and liquor.
The genus "Alpinia", belonging to the order Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family), is named for Alpini. Alpinia is also known as the ginger lily. Ginger lilies are perennials and the blooms have a gardenia fragrance. Ginger lilies are a wonderful cut flower.
1822 On this day in 1822, Joseph Sabine ("Suh-BEEN") gave a presentation to the London Horticultural Society. He was describing some new varieties of Chinese chrysanthemums.
Eleven different kinds of mums had been imported two years earlier, in 1820, and had been thriving in the society's garden at Chiswick.
In 1753, Carl Linnaeus, renowned Swedish botanist, combined the Greek words chrysos, meaning gold with anthemon, meaning flower. Chrysanthemum (Dendranthema grandiflora) is the birth flower for November. In Japan, the highest Order of Chivalry is the Imperial Order of the Chrysanthemum. And National Chrysanthemum Day, aka the Festival of Happiness, has been celebrated in Japan since 910. Chrysanthemum Day is always celebrated September 9th - the ninth day of the ninth month because, in terms of numerology, that day, September 9th, is regarded as an auspicious day.
Now, when Joseph Sabine described the Quilled Pink Chrysanthemum in detail for the London Horticultural Society, members had only heard about the Quilled Flamed Yellow variety. The Quilled Pink was exciting. Sabine, would not even recognize modern mums. Although some mums still look like their sister flowers, daisies, mums are being bred to be showier. Regardless of their appearance, mums belong to the Compositae, or daisy, family.
And, there's another highlight for Joseph Sabine. He was serving as the Secretary of the Horticultural Society and is remembered for sending David Douglas on his 6-month expedition to North America. Douglas named the Digger Pine, Pinus Sabiniana, in honor of Joseph Sabine.
1783 Today is the anniversary of the death of the renowned landscape gardener Lancelot Capability Brown.
In the 1730s, Lancelot ended up at Stowe, working for the great William Kent - the eminent painter and Landscape Architect. The garden at Stowe was a landscape garden with lots of straight lines and formality. The end result was a garden that looked like a painting with an 11-acre lake. The main area of the garden was the Elysian Fields ("uh·li·zhn"); 40 acres featuring buildings and monuments that flank two narrow lakes called the River Styx. The monuments in the garden honor virtuous men of Britain.
The time Lancelot spent with Kent at Stowe transformed not only the land but also Lancelot - from a gardener to a Landscape Architect. It was his big break, and it gave him the confidence to set out on his own.
After Stowe, Lancelot traveled all over England. When working for clients, he would stare out at the blank canvas of a new project and seek to find the "capabilities" of the Landscape - removing worker's cottages or older gardens when he felt the need to do so. It earned him the unshakeable nickname of Capability.
Capability Brown's skill of seeing landscapes and then creating them made him very popular. Everyone with means wanted a Capability Brown landscape - they craved his signature look, his garden designs, and garden temples. What everyone essentially wanted was beauty - and Capability created beautiful gardens. For 19 years, Capability served as the King's Master Gardener. Today, at least 20 Capability gardens still exist and are under the care of England's National Trust.
When Lancelot died, the English writer Horace Walpole, sent word to the noblewoman Anne FitzPatrick that, "Lady Nature's second husband," was dead.
He also sent a poem about Capability to the poet and gardener William Mason:
"With one Lost Paradise the name
Of our first ancestor is stained;
Brown shall enjoy unsullied fame
For many a Paradise, he regained."
1946 The botanist Edgar Anderson wrote to his student Charles B Heiser Jr:
"Oh stamp collecting, when will taxonomists ever take any interest in being biologists? Once, when I traveled with E.J. Palmer, I went to a good deal of trouble to get a whole sheet of lily pods, and he threw it away because it made such a nasty looking specimen, and he wasn't certain what species it belonged to anyway."
It turns out, this was just one of many letters that Edgar wrote to his student. In 1972, Charles wrote a lovely tribute about Edgar called "Student Days with Edgar Anderson or How I Came to Study Sunflowers." Charles sifted through the many letters he had received from Edgar during his lifetime - they filled up a folder over two inches thick.
Over the years, Edgar was an encouraging mentor to Charles, writing,
"What an incredible gift good students are…" and "if you are tired of [Helianthus] and don't want to look at 'em any more for a while, why by all means put them aside. Don't let anybody's advice, including mine, keep you from what you are happiest doing."
Sunflowers or Helianthus Annuus ("HE-LEE-ann-thus ANN-you-us") are native to North America. When the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, saw sunflower for the first time in Holland, he fell in love with them and had them brought back to Russia. The Russian public loved sunflowers as well - but not just for their happy flowers. Unlike other cooking oils, the oil from sunflower seeds was approved for use during Lent by the Russian Orthodox Church. By the early 1800s, two million Acres of sunflowers for planted in Russia every single year. Ironically, over the next century, immigrants from Russia would bring sunflower seeds with them when they immigrated to the United States. The Russian hybrids had bigger blooms than the original American varieties.
Now, most gardeners attempt growing sunflowers at some point, so if you find yourself wanting to give it a try, here are some tips to consider:
First, sunflowers really do need a ton of sun. Don't be stingy with the sunshine and put them in part shade. These are plants that really appreciate all the rays they can get.
Second, Sunflowers follow the sun; they exhibit a behavior known as heliotropism. In the morning, the heads will face East, and then the heads will move to track the sun throughout the day. As they mature, they're tracking movement will become less pronounced as the stem loses its flexibility in order to support the large, mature bloom.
Third, don't be surprised if you find a few sunflowers reseeding themselves in your garden after your initial planting. It's a lovely surprise and a little memento from that first batch of sunflowers.
Finally, once the seeds ripen, the birds will begin to visit, and you'll notice more activity from species like goldfinches - they love sunflower seeds. If you feel inclined, you can dry some of the seed heads to share later with the birds during the cold months of winter.
Here are some words about the winter mindset:
Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.
— Victor Hugo, French poet, and writer
Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.
— Victor Hugo, French poet, and writer
The tendinous part of the mind, so to speak, is more developed in winter; the fleshy, in summer. I should say winter had given the bone and sinew to Literature, summer the tissues and blood.
— John Burroughs, American naturalist, and writer, "The Snow-Walkers," 1866
Winter blues are cured every time with a potato gratin paired with a roast chicken.
— Alexandra Guarnaschelli ("GORE-nah-shell-ee"), American chef
Keep your faith in beautiful things;
in the sun when it is hidden,
in the Spring when it is gone.
And then you will find that Duty and Service and Sacrifice—
all the old ogres and bugbears of —
have joy imprisoned in their deepest dungeons!
And it is for you to set them free —
the immortal joys that no one —
No living soul, or fate, or circumstance—
Can rob you of, once you have released them.
— Reverend Roy R. Gibson, Poet & Critic
Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it.
— Richard Adams, English novelist, Watership Down
To many forms of life of our northern lands, winter means a long sleep; to others, it means what it means to many fortunate human beings - travels in warm climes. To still others, who again have their human prototypes, it means a struggle, more or less fierce, to keep soul and body together; while to many insect forms, it means death.
— John Burroughs, American naturalist, and writer
Grow That Garden Library
The subtitle to this book is: For Everyone and Everything (The Wildlife Trusts)
An easy-to-follow gardening guide endorsed by the Wildlife Trusts and the RHS to help you encourage different types of wildlife into your garden.
Kate Bradbury is an award-winning writer who specializes in wildlife gardening. She is the author of The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, she works on BBC Gardeners' World magazine and regularly writes for the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian to name a few.
What I love about Kate's book is that she breaks it down by groups of species, and each chapter explains what they require to thrive, what their role in the garden is, and how they contribute to the garden ecosystem.
Chapters cover pollinators, birds, and amphibians, wasps, flies, and so on - some will be your favorites, while others will be new to you.
Kate offers many plant suggestions. And, don't forget that your garden is a shared space. It's for you AND these other species. Kate hopes you are able to observe the habitats in your garden throughout the year. Ultimately, this is a book about creating a space that's as much for you to relax in as it is for the other species you welcome into it, and about getting to know the wildlife around you.
Great Gifts for Gardeners
- Genuine Ladbrooke "Mini 4" soil blocker is the most popular size worldwide. Part of the unique Micro / Mini / Maxi "nesting system" for starting seeds and transplanting starts. (Mini 4, Micro 20, and Cubic Inserts sold separately.)
- Essential organic gardening product; easy to use and reusable for years. This eco-friendly system saves on plastic pots.
- Most popular size - makes four - 2" soil blocks. Zinc coated steel will last for years.
- It is made by Ladbrooke - makers of the highest quality products!
- Note: these are utilitarian gardening tools. Cosmetic blemishes and water bathing marks made during manufacturing are natural, and in no way alter the functionality of the tool.
Today's Botanic Spark
When I was researching Edgar Anderson, and reading Charles Heisler's tribute to him. I ran across a little story that involved loganberries.
Loganberries (Rubus loganobaccus) grow on vines known as brambles. They smell like raspberries, but they are tart and they have a slightly sweet taste. Loganberries are named for their California creator, James Harvey Logan, who came up with the idea to cross a Blackberry with a raspberry. Sadly loganberries don't have a long shelf life which is why you don't see them in the grocery store very often. If you decide to grow them, most people keep the berries on the vine as long as possible - which makes them more flavorful.
Anyway, this talk on loganberries brings me back to Charles Heisler's tribute to Edgar, which was titled "Student Days with Edgar Anderson or How I Came to Study Sunflowers."
Charles ended his tribute to Edgar with this adorable little story that included Loganberries among other things and it reminds us that botanists are people too. Charles wrote:
"I haven't told you anything about [Edgar's] music sessions. He played the recorder. Nor about the square dances at the 'Barn.' Nor about his cooking.
I think one of the worst dishes I have ever eaten was his spam covered with bread crumbs soaked in Loganberry juice — perhaps because he raved about it so. I hope [to have given you] some insight into the character of Edgar Anderson, teacher, and botanist. The latter is the title he chose for himself and his later years at the Missouri Botanical Garden."
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