July 1, 2020 Dwight Brown’s Urban Oasis, July in the Garden, Vale of York Naturalists Club, Illinois State Flower, July Poetry, The Earth Knows My Name by Patricia Klindienst, and Plant Explorer Finds Adventure in 1932

Show Notes

Today we welcome the new month - July - and we remember the first meeting of the Vale of York Field Naturalists Club.

We'll also learn about the Illinois State Flower which was adopted on this day

We’ll usher in the new month with some July poetry.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about how gardens and growing food help people maintain their culture. It’s a personal favorite of mine.

And then we’ll wrap things up with a newspaper story from 1932 called “Plant Explorer Finds Adventure"

But first, let's catch up on some Greetings from Gardeners around the world and today’s curated news.



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Gardener Greetings

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Curated News

Before & After: An Urban Oasis - Flower Magazine

Dwight Brown of Father Nature Landscapes wanted to honor his client’s wishes for a garden that would remind him of his European travels.

Brown aged the exterior with a creeping fig (Ficus pumila) for a climber on the side of the house, he also added an Oakland holly, a ‘Shi-Shi Gashira’ camellia and a shaped boxwood hedge that edged a gorgeous group of ‘Limelight’ hydrangea.

Brown says,

“Much like English ivy, the creeping fig with boxwoods, mondo grass, and hydrangeas helped create the classic cottage look I wanted..

We love working edibles into the ornamental landscape. Our goal was to bring back memories of the homeowner’s travels to Europe, especially Italy...”


Welcome July in the Garden  (Click to read my thoughts on July.)


Alright, that’s it for today's gardening news.

Now, if you'd like to check out my curated news articles and original blog posts 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.


Today’s Important Events

1871  The Yorkshire Herald reported the first meeting of the Vale of York Field Naturalists Club.

On that day, the weather was very poor.

Still, almost fifty ladies and gentlemen left the Society's Rooms in Micklegate to travel in three four-horsed carriages to go to Rivaulx ("ree-VOH") Abbey.

Once they arrived at the Abbey, the group then broke into small parties made up of geologists, botanists, and entomologists and then they went out and explored the valley by the Abbey.

"The geologists were interested in the sections laid bare in the quarries, and many interesting and beautiful fossils were found.

[Meanwhile], the botanists collected:

  • Saxiraga tridaclylitet (nailwort)
  • Helianthemum vulgare (rock rose)
  • Cuscuta Epithymum (clover dodder)
  • Aquilegia vulgaris (columbine)
  • Atropa Belladonna (belladonna or deadly nightshade)
  • Polypodium Phegopterit (northern beech fern)
  • P. Dryoplerit (oak fern)
  • Scolopendrium vulgare (hart's-tongue fern)

At six o'clock the party sat down to dinner at the Crown Hotel, Helmsley, which was served in Mr. and Mrs. Cowen's usual substantial style… the Rev. Vice-President Rowe addressed those assembled on the advantages of natural history and the beauties and history of the Abbey.(Rowe was also the hon. secretary of the Architectural Society).

It was arranged that the next monthly field day should be held at Bolton Abbey and Woods.

They then left for home, after a most agreeable day, which left everyone with the feeling that this the first excursion of the club was a great success."


1908  Illinois adopted the Violet as its State Flower.

As with many State Flowers, Illinois decided to let the school children of the state vote to decide the state blossom. The purple violet received 15,591 votes, and the wild rose came in second with 11,903 votes.

The children also decided on the state tree, and they selected the white oak.

Meanwhile, newspapers were running a piece that blared the headline, "The Reign of the Violet is Over."

It said this:

"Strange and unbelievable, but a fact, nevertheless, violets are no longer fashionable.

Gardenias, Orchids, and American Beauty Roses are as much in evidence as ever, but the reign of the violet is temporarily over.

It is true that a large bunch of deep purple violets relieved by a single mauve orchid, a deep pink rose, or a single wax-like gardenia is still an acceptable gift, but it is not the gift that is so frequently chosen this year, as a small cluster of gardenias or even of two or three exquisitely beautiful orchids… Roses are much in favor at the moment...

A new flower hailing from Paris is the pink American Beauty, and well does it deserve the name... The color is an adorable shade of shell pink, and for all decorative purposes, this flower has already a firmly established place in fashion's regard....

One cannot but regret the sense of chivalry of a generation back when etiquette demanded that flowers always be sent to a hostess before even the least formal entertainment, and when a debutante [would rather] stay at home than go to a ball without ... [a] little bouquet of flowers."


1910  The Allentown (Pennsylvania) Democrat paper reported that Joseph Hooker was 93 years old. Here’s what it said:

"Sir Joseph Hooker, the world-famous botanist, received a personal note of congratulations from King George today on the occasion of his ninety-third birthday. Sir Joseph, who is still remarkably active for a man of his great age, has had a long and brilliant career in his chosen field of science. As early as 1839, he accompanied the expedition of Sir James Ross to the Antarctic region. Later he conducted scientific expeditions to many parts of the world… In the course of his active career, he rendered invaluable services to the British arts, manufacturers and commerce by promoting an accurate knowledge of the floras and economic vegetable products of the various colonies and dependencies of the empire."


Unearthed Words

As I mentioned earlier in the show, July is the month of heat and storms and that is reflected in a number of poems.


In scorched July
The storm-clouds fly.

— Christina Georgina Rossetti, English poet, The Months

If the first of July be rainy weather,
It will rain, more or less, for four weeks together.
— John Ray, English naturalist and writer, English Proverbs


When storms finally break through the July heat, there is also the immeasurable pleasure that accompanies the deluge: the intoxicating smell of rain.


A break in the heat
away from the front
no thunder, no lightning,
just rain, warm rain
falling near dusk
falling on eager ground
steaming blacktop
hungry plants
turning toward the clouds
cooling, soothing rain
splashing in sudden puddles
catching in open screens
that certain smell
of summer rain.
— Raymond A. Foss, American poet, Summer Rain


This poem perfectly captures the ferocity of summer storms in the garden:

The rain to the wind said,
'You push, and I'll pelt.'
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged--though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.

— Robert Frost, American poet, Lodged


The July rains encourage special summer blooms.

Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots, and gillyflowers.

— Sara Coleridge, English author, The Garden Year

If you are wondering what gillyflowers are, you are not alone. Gillyflowers was a term that often referred to plants from the mustard family like the wallflower, carnation, clove pink, or white stock. Gilly is derived from the Latin and Greek words for clove.


Grow That Garden Library

The Earth Knows My Name by Patricia Klindienst

This book came out in April of 2007 and the subtitle is: Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans.

Patricia is a master gardener and an award-winning scholar and teacher. She lives in Guilford, Connecticut, and teaches creative writing each summer at Yale University.

Patricia had seen an old family photo of her Italian immigrant family and she was inspired not only to learn about her ancestor’s struggle to adapt to America, but also eager to hear stories from other families. She went to many different gardens - urban, suburban, and rural - in order to write this book. 

The jacket to Patricia’s book reminds us that,

“As we lose our connection to the soil, we no longer understand the relationship between food and a sense of belonging to a place and a people.”

How do gardens and growing food help people maintain their culture? This is the question that Patricia explores in her book.

Vegetables, fruits, and flowers provide so much more than sustenance, food, and beauty. They convey who and where we are and what we are about.

In her review of this book, the author Deborah Madison said,

"We who are far removed from our own immigrant roots will do well to study these eloquent stories and learn from them. Patricia Klindienst has given us nothing less than a great gift."

The book is 208 pages of stories of how we connect to the earth - and it's all shared with today’s gardener in mind.

You can get a copy of The Earth Knows My Name by Patricia Klindienst and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $3.


Today’s Botanic Spark

1932  Newspapers worldwide ran a fascinating article about the botanist Frank Kingdon-Ward titled "Plant Explorer Finds Adventure."

"Captain Frank Kingdon-Ward, tall, well-built son of Britain, probably one of the world's most-noted plant seekers... has journeyed all over the world in search of rare flowers, [and] has led a life as exciting as any explorer and has given the world some of its most beautiful and rare blooms.

Now, in his late 40's, he is tanned from the winds and suns of tropical India, Asia, and the forbidden land of Tibet. He has collected flowers from the heights of the Himalayas, and from the depths of marshy Indian jungles.

His last expedition occurred in 1931. On it, he discovered a new pass into Tibet - 35,000 feet above sea level, through an out-flung range of the Himalayas.

His efforts in prying through thick jungles and climbing high mountains were rewarded in the discovery of a new species of slipper orchid, said to be worth about $500.

On another of his Tibetan expeditions, he discovered the blue poppy, a flower that is sought by all Horticulturists in this country and obtained by few.

To give an idea of the trying conditions under which he labored, consider that he discovered a new river, the Nam-Tamai, the lost source of the Irrawaddy which no white man in 2,000 years of civilization had found. All along this river, through virgin forest, he and his small band trudged, meeting wild beasts and hostile bands of natives…

He located a people … known only as...the Darus. These people had never seen a white man before Kingdon-Ward arrived.

One of the most unusual plants he ever discovered was the rare Nomocharis farreri, a beautiful flower of China. This plant was found by accident and during the height of a violent rainstorm. The flower itself is rose pink outside and dappled with royal purple inside. Each stem [is] from 12 to 15 inches in height [and] bears one, two, or three of the flowers - which grow as large as teacups.

The flower which Captain Kingdon-Ward prizes most of all is the Campanula Calicola, "perhaps the most beautiful rock plant I discovered." It was found growing in limestone cliffs and is adaptable to rock gardens. The Orient is rich in flowers. That land has given us many of our choice blooms. Roses come from India and China; pinks, carnations, and daffodils from Asia Minor; and numerous rare orchids come from the wilds of Tibet.

Captain Kingdon-Ward describes a land of rare rhododendrons vividly in a book he wrote on his adventures in China and Asia.

"You may wander for days ankle-deep through a chromatic surf of rhododendrons, rose pink, ivory white, lavender, plum purple, crimson and amber yellow. They are woven into carpets of queer design and ample pile, or form tuffets, or hassocks or mere tangles, mats, or brooms... They spread and sprawl everywhere, bushy and twigulous, all; looming into flower together; ...and where escarpments break the even roll, the plant growth surges high up the rocks. It Is western Szechwan - the Tibetan marshes - [and] home of the 'Lapponicum' rhododendrons.

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