July 7, 2020 Rhodds Farm, Creeping Avens, Henry Compton, Frances Stackhouse Acton, William Curtis, Sir Walter Scott, The Dormouse and the Doctor by AA Milne, The Himalayan Garden by Jim Jermyn, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Show Notes

Today we celebrate a bishop botanist whose love of plants was second only to his love of God.

We'll also learn about the botanist daughter of a key botanist in England.

We celebrate the botanical entrepreneur and the creator of the influential Curtis Botanical Magazine.

We also celebrate the writer who lived and worked in his incredible home called Abbotsford - complete with impressive gardens - on the banks of the River Tweed in the beautiful Scottish borders.

In today's Unearthed Words, we honor an English author and poet.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about Gardening in Your Front Yard - it's packed with ideas and projects for big and small spaces. It's an idea of Gardening in Your Front Yard is gaining popularity and acceptance - one of the positive effects of dealing with the pandemic.

And then we'll wrap things up with the story of a famous mystery writer who loved gardening and roses.

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

Rhodds Farm | National Garden Scheme

“The garden at Rhodds Farm was started from scratch in 2005 by Cary Goode. It is a challenging site with overhanging woods on the north side and open pasture to the south. A fabulously peaceful spot with a natural garden where plants are allowed to self-seed. There are lots of mixed borders around a pond for wildlife, a formal garden leading to a brick dovecote, a courtyard garden around a water sculpture, a large gravel garden, wild-flower meadows, woodland planting and a large pond with a boardwalk at the end of the woodland.

There are many unusual plants and lots of color and interest throughout the summer with an extensive range of interesting plants. The formal garden with dovecote houses 50 white doves while glorious mixed borders, double herbaceous borders of hot colors, large gravel garden, several ponds, arboretum, wild flower meadow and 13 acres of woodland. A natural garden on a challenging site that fits the setting with magnificent views. There are also interesting and unusual trees, shrubs and perennials in this pesticide free haven.”


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

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Important Events

1713 Today is the anniversary of the death of the passionate plantsman Bishop Henry Compton.

Compton was famous for his substantial garden at Fulham Palace, which was home to more than a thousand exotic plants. Naturally, Compton was drawn to rare plants and new specimens. And, his position as a bishop gave him access to the botanical discoveries that were being sent to England from the American colonies.

For instance, we know from his correspondence, that Compton was especially intrigued about the swamp honeysuckle from Virginia. Compton sent a young priest and botanist named John Bannister to Virginia to botanize for him. Banister went on to help found the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.

Bannister proved to be an excellent contact for Compton. He sent him seeds to grow at Fulham Palace, along with detailed notes about his discoveries. Sadly, Banister's life was cut short when he was accidentally shot during an expedition.

Like any avid gardener, Compton sometimes felt a little guilty about the amount of money he spent on gardening. So, as penance, he not only collected plants for his own garden, but he also was a patron to prominent botanical figures - like the Tradescants.


1794 Today is the birthday of the botanist Frances Stackhouse Acton.

Frances was the daughter of Thomas Andrew Knight, who served as the second president of the Royal Horticultural Society. Thomas assumed the position at the urging of his friend Joseph A Banks.

Now, Knight's inclination was always to turn inward - he was a little introverted. Banks helped him overcome that.

Thomas Knight had inherited 10,000 acres of land, and he used the property to conduct all kinds of experiments on plants like strawberries, cabbages, and peas.

Frances' father encouraged her to pursue her education, and she often recalled that,

“the hours spent with [my father] in his study, or in his garden, as amongst [my] happiest recollections".

A born pragmatist like her father, Frances assisted him with his breeding efforts, which were always designed to help make better plants to feed the masses. Francis contributed to her father's work through drawing. She illustrated many of her father's writings, and she established herself as both...

“an accomplished botanist and botanical artist.”


1799 Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist and entomologist William Curtis, the creator, and publisher of the influential Curtis Botanical Magazine.

William founded the magazine in 1787. Curtis Botanical Magazine made him wealthy, and he often remarked that it had brought him "pudding and praise".

William had started out life as an apothecary, but in short order, he discovered that it could not hold his interest. Sir James Edward Smith recalled that William loved being a naturalist more than working in the city. He wrote,

“The Apothecary was soon swallowed up in the botanist, and the shop exchanged for a garden!”

William was a founder of the Linnaean Society, and he also authored a book about the botany of London called Flora Londiniensis. In 1779, William transformed his Lambeth garden into the London Botanic Garden. William wanted his garden to be a place where visitors could learn all about plants and their uses - not just for food - but in medicine and cooking as well.

William was at heart a pragmatist. When William heard from visitors that they needed a resource to help with growing the plants they were acquiring, William came up with the idea for his magazine.

On February 1, 1787, the very first Curtis Botanical magazine was published,

“for the youth of ... ladies, gentlemen, and gardeners ... who wish to become scientifically acquainted with the plants they cultivate."

The magazine owes much of its success to William's promise to provide his readers with helpful illustrations. Artists, like James Sowerby, helped ensure the magazine's success.

In addition to his legacy left by his flora and his magazine, the genus Curtisia honors William Curtis.


1832 On this day in 1832, the author and poet Sir Walter Scott arrived back at his incredible home called Abbottsford on the banks of the River Tweed in the beautiful Scottish borders.

Scott's health was failing him, and he asked that a bed be set up in the dining room so that he could look out and see the river, the trees, and his magnificent gardens. Lying in that room, Scott was surrounded by portraits of his ancestors.

And when he was finally near death in September of that same year - just two short months later - ever the author, Sir Walter Scott, is said to have requested a quill and some paper. And, indeed, he died with a pen in his hand.

Abbotsford is impressive, and it seemed destined to become a public place.

In 1853 his granddaughter Charlotte inherited the estate. Charlotte cleverly decided to add a path in the Morris Garden, which would bring visitors around to the side, keeping part of the estate and gardens private for the family.

During Scott's time at Abbotsford, he added oak and pine trees. He expanded the walled gardens. And today, niches in the south and west walls still hold Scott's collection of Roman panels and other artifacts.

Scott's gardener William Bogie added,

“narrow beds of hollyhocks, and roses along the arcade, and a leafy, honeysuckle-covered pergola.”

With paths and hedging that divide the garden into four quarters, Scott's walled garden is still a sight to see.


Unearthed Words

Today I'm sharing a poem by A.A. Milne, the English author and poet. He became famous for his story about Winnie the Pooh, but he also wrote this wonderful poem called "The Dormouse and the Doctor."

It's a favorite among gardeners because it prominently features three favorite flowers: delphiniums, geraniums, and chrysanthemums.

There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
And all the day long he'd a wonderful view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

A Doctor came hurrying round, and he said:
"Tut-tut, I am sorry to find you in bed. Just say
'Ninety-nine', while I look at your chest…
Don't you find that chrysanthemums answer the best?"

The Dormouse looked round at the view and replied
(When he'd said "Ninety-nine" ) that he'd tried and he'd tried,
And much the most answering things that he knew
Were geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

The Doctor stood frowning and shaking his head,
And he took up his shiny silk hat as he said:
"What the patient requires is a change," and he went
To see some chrysanthemum people in Kent.

The Dormouse lay there, and he gazed at the view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue),
And he knew there was nothing he wanted instead
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).

The Doctor came back and, to show what he meant,
He had brought some chrysanthemum cuttings from Kent.
"Now these," he remarked, "give a much better view
Than geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue)."

They took out their spades and they dug up the bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
And they planted chrysanthemums (yellow and white).
"And now," said the Doctor, "we'll soon have you right."

The Dormouse looked out, and he said with a sigh:
"I suppose all these people know better than I.
It was silly, perhaps, but I did like the view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue)."

The Doctor came round and examined his chest,
And ordered him Nourishment, Tonics, and Rest.
"How very effective," he said, as he shook
The thermometer, "all these chrysanthemums look!"

The Dormouse turned over to shut out the sight
Of the endless chrysanthemums (yellow and white).
"How lovely," he thought, "to be back in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)."

The Doctor said, "Tut! It's another attack!"
And ordered him Milk and Massage-of-the-back,
And Freedom-from-worry and Drives-in-a-car,
And murmured, "How sweet your chrysanthemums are!"

The Dormouse lay there with his paws to his eyes,
And imagined himself such a pleasant surprise:
"I'll pretend the chrysanthemums turn to a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)!"

The Doctor next morning was rubbing his hands,
And saying, "There's nobody quite understands
These cases as I do! The cure has begun!
How fresh the chrysanthemums look in the sun!"

The Dormouse lay happy, his eyes were so tight
He could see no chrysanthemums, yellow or white.
And all that he felt at the back of his head
Were delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).

And that is the reason (Aunt Emily said)
If a Dormouse gets in a chrysanthemum bed,
You will find (so Aunt Emily says) that he lies
Fast asleep on his front with his paws to his eyes.
— A.A. Milne, English author and poet, The Dormouse and the Doctor


Grow That Garden Library

The Himalayan Garden by Jim Jermyn

This book came out almost twenty years ago in 2001, and the fantastic subtitle is: Growing Plants from the Roof of the World. Love that subtitle.

Hortus raved about this book and said,

"If you are among those whose pulse-rate has been kick-started by the 'Subalpine Zone' chapter, then take care as you proceed to the one on the alpine zone: you may need oxygen to take in the contents of this high altitude chapter. . . . Packed with useful and practical advice on how to establish and maintain these plants. . . . A most useful reference, it will certainly earn its space on many a keen grower's shelves."

And boy, were they right. The Himalayan Garden by Jim Jermyn is 320 pages of know-how regarding cultivating species that are native to the Himalayas. Only Jim could share these nuggets of Himalayan plant wisdom. What are some Himalayan natives? Think Euphorbia, Gentiana, Meconopsis, Primula, Rhododendron, and more.

You can get a copy of The Himalayan Garden by Jim Jermyn and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $20.


Today's Botanic Spark

1930 Today is the anniversary of the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Spring before he died, Doyle was bedridden. However, one morning, unattended, he got up and managed to go out to his garden.

Doyle much enjoyed being in his garden. He did most of his writing in the garden.

He once remarked,

"What a lovely thing a rose is!"

But that spring morning in 1930, his family found him lying on the ground with one hand clutching his heart and the other... holding a single white snowdrop. He languished until July 7, 1930, when he passed away with his family at his bedside.

His last words were to his wife. He whispered,

"You are wonderful."

After his death, newspaper accounts shared that, on a beautiful summer day, he was buried in the garden. The garden had been Doyle's special retreat, and the place he was buried is right next to his garden hut. After it was built, the hut was the place Doyle went to write his stories about one of the world's best-loved detectives: Sherlock Holmes.

Now, history tells us that over 200 people attended Doyle's funeral. And, on that day, so many wreaths were sent from all over the world that they were spread over the large paddock west of the home and that they covered over an acre of land with blooms.

Accounts of the funeral say that when Conan Doyle's coffin was placed in the grave, "Lady Doyle kissed a rose and threw it in."

Lady Jean Conan Doyle continued to live at Windlesham for another decade until her death on June 27, 1940.

She was buried next to her husband in the garden.

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