February 10, 2020 Midwinter Trees, Plant Health Resolutions, Jan Gronovius, Benjamin Smith Barton, Winifred Mary Letts, Jack Heslop-Harrison, Snow Poems, A Land Remembered by Patrick D Smith, Wood Markers, and Laura Ingalls Wilder

Show Notes

Today we celebrate the man who suggested naming the Twinflower for Linnaeus and the botanist who gave Meriwether Lewis a crash course in botany.

We'll learn about the English writer who wrote, that, "God once loved a garden we learn in holy writ and seeing gardens in the spring, I well can credit it."

And we also tip our hats to the British botanist who loved the common spotted orchid.

Today's Unearthed Words feature words about the white stuff covering our gardens right now: snow.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about a family who settled in the Florida frontier. The book was honored as the "Most Outstanding Florida Historical Novel."

I'll talk about a tool that will help you spruce up a number of items in your garden (I love these things!)

and then we'll wrap things up with a pioneer naturalist who wrote books that became a beloved part of many modern childhoods.

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



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Curated Articles

Alan Titchmarsh: The stunning midwinter trees whose bark is better than their bite - Country Life

Here's a great post by Alan Titchmarsh in Country Life about the fabulous book Winter Gardens by Cedric Pollet.

Pollet is a shutterbug who captures plants in their dormancy: "the best varieties of dogwoods, willows, maples, and birches, plus a smattering of brambles and bamboos."

"We are none of us too old to discover new plants and new ways of using them."


Plant health resolutions: Pippa Greenwood

Botanist and broadcaster @PippaGreenwood wants to see more funding for research into pests and pathogens, and the breeding of plants better able to resist new diseases.


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.

"You could say that plant health is the most important thing – we as the human race cannot survive long-term without plants, in fact we couldn’t survive for long at all. Plants are fundamentally important to everything. Increased movement of people, food and other goods has played a significant part in the spread of pests and pathogens, often with very serious impact on plant health. Quite simply, we have to take steps to ensure plant health is seen as a top priority."

Important Events

1686 Today is the birthday of the Dutch botanist Jan Gronovius.

Gronovius's story is inextricably bound to the Virginia botanist John Clayton.

Clayton botanized Virginia. In the early 1700s, Clayton sent specimens to Gronovius both directly and indirectly through the English naturalist Mark Catesby.

Gronovius was a little in over his head as he attempted to make sense of the overwhelming amount of specimens from Clayton. So, he did what most of us would do; he asked for help - and he got it from Carl Linnaeus.

In a brazen move, Gronovius used Clayton's specimens and documentation to put together a Flora of Virginia in 1739. He published the work without notifying Clayton, and he certainly didn't seek his permission before he started the endeavor.

Other than the Clayton situation, Gronovius is remembered for the many plants that he named.

After seeing the Twinflower, it was Gronovius who suggested naming the plant after Linnaeus. Without Gronovius, Linnaeus probably wouldn't have had a plant named for him during his lifetime; Linnaeus was very modest.

And, bless his heart, Gronovius was sensitive to Linnaeus's need to keep the honorary naming low key. So Gronovius wrote that,

"[The Twinflower was] "a plant of Lapland; lowly, insignificant, disregarded, flowering but for a brief space - after Linnaeus who resembles it."

Thus, the Twinflower is the only plant named for the Father of Taxonomy, Linnaeus, and has the botanical name is Linnea Borealis.

Another plant that Gronovius named was the genus Gerbera which was named after the German botanist Traugott Gerber.

Finally, in 1739, It was Gronovius, who combined the words for water and jug - hydro and angeion; put them together, and you get hydrangea which translates to water jug.


1766 Today is the birthday of the American botanist, naturalist, and physician Benjamin Smith Barton.

Barton worked as a professor of natural history and botany at the University of Pennsylvania, where he authored the very first textbook on American botany. In 1803, Barton tutored Meriwether Lewis to get him ready for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lewis had little knowledge of natural history and plants. Barton's expertise made it possible for him to be quite effective on the expedition.

Barton was supposed to create a book describing all of the plants that were found on the expedition. But, for some reason, he never began writing. The job ultimately fell to Barton's assistant, Frederick Pursh, who ended up having a falling out with Barton. Pursh took copies of the specimens and went to England, where he found a patron and published his Flora of North America — much to the chagrin of Benjamin Smith Barton and other botanists.

And, there's a fun story that came out last year, in February, about this time. And, it was about a little yellow butterfly that was found pressed between the pages of a Barton manuscript - his Flora Virginica - from 1812. It turns out that this little yellow creature was found by a library fellow named E. Bennett Jones at the American Philosophical Society as he was looking through the book. Butterfly experts felt the placement was purposeful since the butterfly was found in between the pages listed "plants beloved by pollinators - such as Monarda." 

After the discovery, the Barton butterfly was carefully removed and preserved in a suspended container. In a touching result, the manuscript will forever bear a butterfly-shaped stain - marking the spot where the little butterfly was pressed between its pages for over 200 years before it was discovered.


1882 Today is the birthday of the English writer Winifred Mary Letts. Gardeners love her quote on spring:

That God once loved a garden, we learn in Holy writ.
And seeing gardens in the Spring, I well can credit it.

Winifred also wrote a poem about spring called "Spring the Cheat." This is one of many poems Winifred wrote about the Great War - WWI. Winifred wrote "Spring the Cheat" to remind people that they were not alone in their suffering. Her poem illustrates how pointless existence seems during wartime. Winifred contrasts the season of rebirth - spring (which is cyclical), with a war-induced season of loss (which usually spreads across many seasons and is especially at odds during spring).

Spring the Cheat

The wych-elm shakes its sequins to the ground,
With every wind, the chestnut blossoms fall:
Down by the stream the willow-warblers sing,
And in the garden to a merry sound
The mown grass flies. The fantail pigeons call
And sidle on the roof; a murmuring
Of bees about the woodbine-covered wall,
A child's sweet chime of laughter — this is spring.

Luminous evenings when the blackbird sways
Upon the rose and tunes his flageolet,
A sea of bluebells down the woodland ways, —
O exquisite spring, all this — and yet — and yet —
Kinder to me the bleak face of December
Who gives no cheating hopes, but says — "Remember."


1920 Happy birthday to British botanist and former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Jack Heslop-Harrison. He was the first Director to resign the position since its creation in 1822.

In 1957, Jack wrote an article on the hybridization of the common spotted orchid. Today, at Kew, there is a marker for the spotted orchid (or the marsh orchid), Dactylorhiza X braunii ("DACK-tie-lo-RYE-zah Brawn-ee-eye); Jack's favorite flower.


Unearthed Words

Here are some poems and quotes about snow:

"To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold."
— Aristotle, Greek philosopher and polymath


"There is no winter without snow, no spring without sunshine, and no happiness without companions."
— Korean Proverb


Here delicate snow-stars, out of the cloud,
Come floating downward in airy play,
Like spangles dropped from the glistening crowd
That whiten by night the milky way.
— William Cullen Bryant, American Romantic Poet, The Snow-Shower


"There's a silence in a snowy dawn that forces you to look anew at what has been transformed from the customary landscape of your day-to-day life. Dogwoods glisten in their silver finery; bowing fir limbs form a secret cathedral."

— Nancy Hatch Woodward, American writer, Southern Snow


Grow That Garden Library

A Land Remembered by Patrick D Smith

This book came out in 1996.

A land remembered is a multi-generational saga, and it tells the story of a family who settled in the Florida Frontier and survived against all the odds and the land itself.

In the story, the MacIvey family arrive by oxcart in Florida in the 1850s. Settling on the banks of the Kissimmee River, they fight off mosquitoes, floods, freezes, and rustlers.

In addition to telling the story of the MacIvey family, Smith writes poignantly about another character: the Florida landscape. Specifically, Smith tells how Florida looked - when it was pristine - before the pioneers came and settled the land. Smith highlights how the Florida landscape has been irrevocably altered by development and destroyed by greed over the past two centuries.

A land remembered has won many awards as a work of Florida historical fiction. This best-selling novel has been reprinted multiple times over the years.

You can get a used copy of A Land Remembered by Patrick D Smith and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for under $5.


Great Gifts for Gardeners

Katzco Furniture Repair Kit Wood Markers - Set of 13 - Markers and Wax Sticks with Sharpener - for Stains, Scratches, Floors, Tables, Desks, Carpenters, Bedposts, Touch-Ups, Cover-Ups, Molding Repair $9.99

  • This 13 piece kit includes 6 Repair Markers, six paper wrapped wax sticks, and one wax stick sharpener packaged in a blister card.
  • 6 Unique Colors - Maple, Oak, Cherry, Walnut, Mahogany, and Black to match the color of your furniture. Now there's no need for you to call a professional to retouch your scuffed furniture. Become the pro yourself!
  • Premium Quality - Top quality markers and wax sticks that cover scratches, nicks, scuffs, and discoloration on furniture, cabinets, tables, beds, and more. 100% effective and permanent.
  • Easy To Use - Simply draw over the scratch, allow it to quickly dry, and watch the scratches disappear right before your eyes! These are safe to use on all types of wooden furniture. Use the included sharpener to sharpen the wax sticks.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed - Katzco will make sure that you will be satisfied with this product you buy from us. You are protected with our 100% No Questions Asked Guarantee for either a replacement or refund. We care about only putting out high-quality products that satisfy your needs. If there is anything you need that we don't offer, we go and find the best for you!


Today's Botanic Spark

1957 Today is the anniversary of the death of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

One of the reasons so many of us have a soft spot in our heart for the Little House books is because Laura was so descriptive; she was a natural storyteller. In retrospect, I think you might be surprised by the amount of material in Laura's books devoted to the natural world - ma's gardens, the landscapes that Laura and her family experienced, and her overall reverence for life - plants, animals, and human - all of it is so cherished by Laura and her loved ones.

In 2017, the author, Marta McDowell, wrote a book called The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and in it, she highlights the "Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House books."

Marta's book sheds light on Laura as a naturalist. In a blog post, she challenged us by writing:

"I'd like to suggest a thought experiment. Instead of categorizing Laura Ingalls Wilder as an American children's author, think of her as a nature writer as well…

Long before she was a writer, Laura Ingalls Wilder was a gardener and farmer, growing food for the table and raising crops for sale. Nature was her home, as well as little houses. Through her life and work, Wilder sowed a deep appreciation for the world outside one's own door. Her books still inspire budding naturalists to plant, preserve, and appreciate their own wilder gardens."

Marta and I had a lovely chat that is featured in Episode 585 of the Still Growing podcast - if you'd like to check it out.

You can get a used copy of The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Marta McDowell and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for under $4.

In the Missouri Ruralist, Laura wrote,

"The voices of nature do not speak so plainly to us as we grow older, but I think it is because, in our busy lives, we neglect her until we grow out of sympathy. Our ears and eyes grow dull, and beauties are lost to us that we should still enjoy.

Life was not intended to be simply a round of work, no matter how interesting and important that work may be. A moment's pause to watch the glory of a sunrise - or a sunset - is so satisfying, while a bird song will set the steps to music all day long."

In early February 1918, Laura wrote:

"Now is the time to make a garden! Anyone can be a successful gardener at this time of year, and I know of no pleasanter occupation these cold, snowy days, then to sit warm and snug by the fire making a garden with a pencil, and a seed catalog. What perfect vegetables do we raise in that way, and so many of them! Our radishes are crisp and sweet, our lettuce tender and our tomatoes smooth and beautifully colored. Best of all, there is not a bug or worm in the whole garden, and the work is so easily done.

In imagination, we see the plants in our spring garden, all in straight, thrifty rows with the fruit of each plant and vine numerous and beautiful as the pictures before us. How near the real garden of next summer approaches the ideal garden of our winter fancies depends upon how practically we dream and how hard we work."


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