July 3, 2020 Being More Water-efficient, Dog Days, Gilbert Laing Meason, Michael Keens, Lambertus Bobbink, William Henry Davies, The Reason for Flowers by Stephen Buchmann, and Calvin R. Sperling

Show Notes

Today we officially welcome the Dog Days - they start on this day and last for the next 40 days.

We'll also learn about the Landscape Architect who invented the term “landscape architecture.”

We celebrate the market gardener from Isleworth who exhibited the first large-scale cultivated strawberry at the Royal Horticultural Society on this day over two hundred years ago.

We also celebrate one of America's best-known florists.

We honor the life of the English poet William Henry Davies - he loved the natural world, especially birds and butterflies.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about flowers - their “History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives.”

And then we’ll wrap things up with the story of a preeminent botanist and plant explorer with the USDA.

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

To participate in the Gardener Greetings segment, send your garden pics, stories, birthday wishes and so forth to Jennifer@theDailyGardener.org

And, to listen to the show while you're at home, just ask Alexa or Google to play The Daily Gardener Podcast. It's that easy.


Curated News

5 ways to adopt a more water-efficient approach to gardening

1. Install a water butt
2. Switch to watering plants in the morning
3. Don't water your lawn
4. Use a watering can
5. Train your plants to drink more slowly by giving them less


Let the Dog Days Begin  (Click to read this original post)


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

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


Important Events

1796   The Landscape Architect Gilbert Laing Meason was born.

Laing Meason was a friend of Sir Walter Scott, and he invented the term 'landscape architecture' in his 1828 book, “The Landscape Architecture of the Great Painters of Italy.”

Not many copies of his book were printed, but somehow the prolific garden author, John Claudius Loudon, secured a copy. He shared the term with American horticulturist Andrew Jackson Downing, who, in turn, shared it with Frederick Law Olmsted. And Olmsted was the first professional to describe himself as a 'landscape architect,' and he is regarded as the founder of landscape architecture.

Now, Meason was very balanced in his perspective on architecture. He valued both function and beauty.

In terms of his property, Meason was a romantic, and his personal estate was known as Lindertis House. It is no surprise that he surrounded it with ornate gardens. Over time though, the cost of maintaining the elaborate gardens, in addition to the household management of the estate as a whole, brought Lindertis to total financial ruin. Today, barely a trace of the mansion exists. When Meason died, he had no idea that his notion of 'landscape architecture' would be his legacy.


1806   On this day, Michael Keens, a market gardener from Isleworth, exhibited the first large-scale cultivated strawberry at the Royal Horticultural Society.

Now when it came to strawberries, Michael combined two important variables: flavor and appearance. It's hard to imagine, but large garden strawberries as we know them today didn't exist before the 1800s.

In his wonderfully illustrated book, The Complete Strawberry, Stafford Whiteaker takes us through the strawberry's development over the past two hundred years; sharing how strawberries were harvested from the foot of the Andes and brought to France by a French spy named Amédée François Frézier.

Frézier’s strawberry story is one of triumph. He cared for five little strawberry plants from the Andes during the six-month journey home to France and he shared his own precious supply of water with the strawberries to keep them alive.

And, in a strange coincidence, Frézier’s surname is derived from Fraise - the French word for strawberry. It turns out, that Frézier’s ancestor, Julius de Berry, had presented the French Emperor with a gift of strawberries and in return, he was honored with the name Frézier as his gift.

For clarification, the name ‘‘strawberry’’ does not refer to mulching the berries with straw. Instead, it is from the Old English term straw, which means ‘‘to spread’ referring to the way the runners grow.

On 30 Apr 1859, The Preston Chronicle and Lancashire Advertiser offered a little advice about growing Keen's strawberries, saying,

"For edgings for these nothing is more profitable than parsley or a line of Keens's seedling strawberry."


1939  On this day, the Asbury Park Press reported that Lambertus Bobbink, one of the country's best-known florists, was honored at the New York Botanical Gardens.

In fact, the author, Pearl Buck, was there to dedicate a rose garden and unveil a plaque to Bobbink that read:

"Lambertus C. Bobbink, a great rosarian whose counsel and generosity helped to make this garden possible for the enjoyment of all."

Bobbink immigrated to the United States from Holland in 1896. He purchased a few acres of land in Rutherford, New Jersey.

In 1898, Frederick Atkins, an English nurseryman, became Bobbink’s partner in the business, forming Bobbink and Atkins, one of the world’s largest horticultural organizations at the time.

Both Bobbink and Atkins had homes on Herrick Street, which was just around the corner from their business on Paterson Avenue.

The two florists accomplished some major milestones together:

In 1911, Bobbink & Atkins successfully grew the first crop of Hybrid Tea Roses in the United States. 

Twenty-four years later, in 1935, Bobbink introduced the Azalea Rutherfordiana. Now, this azalea didn't memorialize a person, but a place - Bobbink's adopted hometown, Rutherford, New Jersey.


Unearthed Words

Today is the birthday of the English poet William Henry Davies. Davies loved the natural world, especially birds and butterflies.

George Bernard Shaw was a fan of his work, and he wrote the preface of Davies' autobiography.

Here are a few of his poems:

When I can hear the small woodpeckers ring
Time on a tree for all the birds that sing ;
And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long?
The simple bird that thinks two notes a song.
— William Henry Davies, English poet, April’s Charms

And here are butterflies: poor things
Amazed with new-created wings;
They in the air-waves roll distressed
Like ships at sea; and when they rest
They cannot help but open and close
Their wings, like babies with their toes.
— William Henry Davies, English poet, Newcomers


A week ago I had a fire
To warm my feet, my hands, and face;
Cold winds, that never make a friend,
Crept in and out of every place.
Today the fields are rich in grass,
And buttercups in thousands grow;
I'll show the world where I have been--
With gold-dust seen on either shoe.
Till to my garden back I come,
Where bumble-bees for hours and hours
Sit on their soft, fat, velvet bums,
To wriggle out of hollow flowers.
— William Henry Davies, English poet, All in June


Grow That Garden Library

The Reason for Flowers by Stephen Buchmann

This book came out in 2016 and the subtitle is: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives

The author Amy Stewart said, “Do flowers need a reason? In The Reason for Flowers,Stephen Buchmann reminds us that flowers exist for more than just beauty and fragrance. They are miniature chemical factories, wireless signal stations, the inspiration for artists, and—of course—sustenance for the most important creatures living on the planet. In short, flowers run the world. Stephen Buchmann is a gifted storyteller and an inquisitive scientist who is intrigued by the dazzling and intricate world of flowers. Thanks to this delightful new book, you will be, too.”

The book is 252 pages of flower history, science, and culture - and it’s all enthusiastically simplified and shared for us to enjoy. For plant geeks, it is utterly fascinating.

You can get a copy of The Reason for Flowers by Stephen Buchmann and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $4.


Today’s Botanic Spark

1993  On this day, newspapers reported on the first recipient of the Richard Evans Schultes Award: Calvin R. Sperling.

Sperling was a preeminent botanist and plant explorer with the USDA.

As for Schultes, he was a Harvard University professor and widely recognized as the father of ethnobotany.

Schultes once offered my favorite definition of Ethnobotany. You hear that term thrown around a lot, but not everyone knows what it means. Schultes said,

"Ethnobotany simply means someone who is investigating plants used by primitive societies in various parts of the world."

And, Schultes praised Sperling’s work while he was alive, saying:

"Calvin Sperling is one of the foremost ethnobotanists today, due to his consistent excellence in field research and to his extensive work to conserve biological diversity and to improve crop plants worldwide."

An article about Sperling in the Star Tribune said,

"Sperling traipsed over mountain slopes [in the Soviet Union] in search of wild apricot trees. He had expected to find about twenty forgotten varieties. Instead, he brought back nearly fifty different specimens.

Sperling recalled, ‘I found some incredible ones with traits we've never known before..." [Like] tolerance for frosts and freezing that may allow apricots to be grown in areas with harsh winter climates.’”

Great discovery. And, great work by a great botanist - Calvin R. Sperling.

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