July 18, 2020 A Daily Practice to Improve Garden Skills, Gilbert White, Jane Austen, Frederick Law Olmsted, Emilia Hazelip, The Gardener Poem, The Solitary Bees by Bryan N. Danforth, Robert L. Minckley, John L. Neff, and Frances Fawcett, and The Botanist by Maxfield Parrish

Show Notes

Today we celebrate the English naturalist who kept a journal for almost three decades.

We'll also learn about the famous English novelist who loved to garden.

We salute the father of American landscape architecture and his trip to Gettysburg on this day in 1863.

We also recognize the Spanish woman who pioneered a system of organic gardening known as synergistic gardening.

We'll hear a classic poem for gardeners.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book devoted to the ecology, evolution, and life history of solitary bees - a must-read for gardeners dedicated to learning more about our precious pollinators.

And then we'll wrap things up with a Maxfield Parrish Print that is beloved by gardeners ever since it appeared on the cover of Collier's Magazine.

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

This Five-Minute Exercise Will Make You a Better Gardener | Mary-Kate Mackey

“Phyllis Helland has a simple process for doing that. Phyllis is a friend of mine who is a home gardener, and also an artist by profession. Every day she spends a few minutes observing and drawing the growth on a single plant.

This is an exercise in seeing, not producing a recognizable sketch. She advises:

'If you think you don’t draw well, simply switch to your non-dominant hand. I always see more when I do that because it slows me down. Or use a phone camera instead. That’s more of a broad stroke, but it still helps me see. It’s like being a little kid again. Kids notice things and the adults are astonished.'

Now, why would doing this simple exercise help your gardening?

Phyllis says it will raise your awareness of what’s growing around you—whether it’s those previously unnoticed predacious bugs on the beans or a glorious unplanned flower combination. The daily observations can also deepen your knowledge.”


Recently, I've started collecting cuttings from my garden to make my own potpourris and sachets.

Here's is a quote from Eleanor Sinclair-Rhode about this lovely garden pastime:

"No bought potpourri is so pleasant as that made from one's own garden, for the petals of the flowers one has gathered at home hold the sunshine and memories of summer, and of past summers only the sunny days should be remembered."


Do a summer check of all your irrigation systems and repair anything broken.

I sooo wish I would have done this last summer. By the time I discovered a leak, we had a big water problem to address.

In the garden, too much water can be just as harmful as too little. Throw in temperature extremes, and you have a perfect storm - inviting fungal and other diseases, pests, and other problems.


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

1720  Today is the birthday of the English naturalist, Gilbert White.

Gilbert kept a journal for almost three decades, where he recorded observations of his garden. Gilbert's observations were eventually published as a Calendar of Flora and the Garden. Then they were woven into a book called the Naturalist's Journal.

People immediately recognized Gilbert had a gift for observation and for describing with vivid clarity the natural world.

Here's a little of what Gilbert wrote in his journal on this day in 1781; his 61st birthday:

"Farmers complain that their wheat is blighted.

In the garden at Dowland’s,... stands a large Liriodendrum tulipifera ("LEER-EE-OH-den-drum TOO-lip-IF-er-ah"), or tulip-tree, which was in flower. The soil is poor sand, but produces beautiful pendulous Larches.

Mr R’s garden, ... abounds in fruit, and in all manner of good and forward kitchen-crops. Many China-asters this spring seeded themselves there... some cucumber-plants also grew-up of themselves from the seeds of a rejected cucumber thrown aside last autumn. Mr. R’s garden is, at an average, a fortnight before mine."

Gilbert White's journals are a treasure, and luckily we can read them for ourselves online at one of my favorite websites: NaturalhistoryofSelbourne.com.


1817  Today is the anniversary of the death of the author and gardener Jane Austen.

Jane loved gardens. She had a heart for ornamentals, herbs, and kitchen gardening. And, her family always had a garden - growing their food and beautifying their homes with flowers.

In every one of her books, Jane included gardens.

We know from Jane's letters to her sister Cassandra that gardens brought her joy, and they were also regulating.

In 1807, Jane wrote about the redesign of her garden which included syringia or mock orange and laburnum - a small tree with beautiful hanging yellow flowers in spring, which is how it got the common golden chain or golden rain:

"I could not do without a syringa... We talk also of a laburnum. The border under the terrace wall is clearing away to receive currants and gooseberry bushes, and a spot is found very proper for raspberries."

In 1814, Jane wrote about the garden outside the rented room where she was staying,

"The garden is quite a love... I live in the room downstairs; it is particularly pleasant...opening upon the garden. I go and refresh myself every now and then, and then come back to solitary coolness."


1863  It was on this day that the father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, walked the battlefield of Gettysburg - just 15 days after the battle.

Olmsted was the General Secretary of the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) - overseeing the support of sick and wounded soldiers of the United States Army during the Civil War. There were times when Olmsted personally treated the battlefield wounds of soldiers.

Olmsted was recruited for the job based on his success in designing and overseeing New York City's Central Park, one of the country's most significant public works projects.

A week after the battle at Gettysburg, Olmsted arranged for 40 tons of supplies to flow into Gettysburg every day - bringing in items like surgeon's silk, fans, butter, shoes, and crutches.

On this day in 1863, the scene had settled down enough that Olmsted could walk the fields of Gettysburg.

In Martin's biography of Olmsted, he shared that Olmsted, "was struck by the scale of the place; everything had happened across distances far greater than he had supposed."

Ever attuned to the landscape, Olmsted also noted that,

"The hills were gentle and rolling, so very out of kilter with the carnage that was everywhere still in evidence... Olmsted came across spent shells and twisted bayonets, broken-down wagons, and half-buried dead horses. Particularly touching, to Olmsted, was the random strew of Union and Confederate caps, often together on the ground, shot through with bullet holes."


1937   Today is the birthday of the Spanish woman who pioneered a system of organic gardening known as synergistic gardening - Emilia Hazelip.

Emilia was born in Barcelona. As a young adult, she embraced communal living and was part of the hippie movement. She managed to make her way to California, where she worked on ecological farms. At the time, Ruth Stout's no-work gardening and Alan Chadwick's raised bed concept were gaining traction.

In 1977, Masanobu Fukuoka's ("MAH-SIN-oh-boo FOO-ku-OH-KAH") book, "The One-Straw Revolution" was translated into English. Emilia got a copy, read it, and immediately set about applying the principles in her own garden.

By the time Emilia started tinkering with Fukuoka's principles, she was 40 years old, and she had been gardening for about 17 years. The gardening system she devised became known as synergistic gardening, and it was a mashup of Fukuoka's ideas and elements of permaculture.

Emilia was the perfect person to come up with synergistic gardening; She was attuned to nature, and he questioned the effectiveness of human methods that altered natural systems.

YouTube has a great video of Emilia, showing how she creates an edible vegetable garden.

She says,

“The work of Fukuoka was the proof that my intuition was right, meaning that working the land is not necessary. However, when I started to reproduce it, the results I obtained were so poor that I quickly understood the need to modify and adapt his system to other cultural and climatic conditions; this is how it was born what I decided to call Synergic Agriculture”

Back in 2012, Monica Brandies wrote an excellent article on Emilia that was featured in the Tampa Tribune. Here are some highlights.

"I've watched [a DVD of The Synergistic Garden with Emilia Hazelip twice and learned some new ideas that Rosalind [Baker] is already using with success.

Hazelip [says] the following:

Don't worry about fertilizer. Don't disturb the soil any more than necessary - no tilling or digging, no stepping that compacts the soil. [This way,] the earthworms and microorganisms in the soil can work with multiplied efficiency. And instead of the soil wearing out as it does in modern agriculture, it gets better year by year.

Cut down on compost. Hazelip uses no compost except in potting soil in flats in the greenhouse.

Elevate beds. Hazelip's beds are elevated 10 to 30 inches by digging deeper paths and piling the soil upon beds that are 4 feet wide, so it's possible to reach the center without stepping in. Her paths are 20 inches wide.

Cover the soil with mulch. The beds are always covered with organic mulch straw in her case, leaves in mine. But I have sinned by leaving some soil bare. I will try never to do that again. Nature always keeps the soil covered. Hazelip pulls back the mulch to add seeds or transplants but pushes it back right away around the transplants... Hazelip removes spent plants by cutting them off just above ground level, so the roots stay in the ground very important. Then the part of the plant you don't eat is laid on top as additional mulch. Over the years, you need less and less mulch.

Use the weeds you pull. Weeds are pulled out by the roots and laid in the path until they are dead. Then they are added to the mulch. Obviously, she doesn't have any of the invasive vines we have here, but they are the only ones I will have to bag up and discard. At first, such beds need hand weeding as much as any beds, but as the years go by, they need less and less weeding.

Hazelip used a spoon to plant some of her transplants and a trowel for the ones that needed a larger hole, but that was the extent of her digging. I am now doing all this as much as possible. It is never too late to learn.”


Unearthed Words

The gardener does not love to talk.
He makes me keep the gravel walk;
And when he puts his tools away.
He locks the door and takes the key.
He digs the flowers, green, red, and blue.
Nor wishes to be spoken to.
He digs the flowers and cuts the hay.
And never seems to want to play.
Silly gardener! Summer goes,
And winter comes with pinching toes,
When in the garden bare and brown
You must lay your barrow down.
Well now, and while the summer stays
To profit by these garden days
O how much wiser you would be
To play at Indian wars with me!
— Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist and poet, The Gardener from a Child's Garden of Verses


Grow That Garden Library

The Solitary Bees by Bryan N. Danforth, Robert L. Minckley, John L. Neff, and Frances Fawcett

This book came out in August of 2019, and the subtitle is Biology, Evolution, Conservation.

The author Alexandra-Maria Klein said,

"This book is a comprehensive most up-to-date resource on the biology and evolution of solitary bees. . . . People reading this book will likely further educate their friends, children, or colleagues by sharing stories about the interesting natural history of solitary bees they learned by reading across this book. By doing this, an increasing number of people will ultimately contribute to protecting nature and biodiversity."

And, Stephen Fleming, said,

"In the many vignettes and case studies throughout the text, the wonders of solitary bees are revealed. . . . I expect to return to this book to learn more about the truly incredible world of bees for a long time to come."

The book is a whopping 488 pages devoted to the ecology, evolution, and life history of solitary bees - a must-read for gardeners dedicated to learning more about our precious pollinators.

You can get a copy of The Solitary Bees by Bryan N. Danforth, Robert L. Minckley, John L. Neff, and Frances Fawcett and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $31.


Today's Botanic Spark

1908  On this day, the Maxfield Parrish Print, called The Botanist, appeared on the cover of Collier's Magazine.

Parrish's image shows a full-length profile of a man wearing a long botanical green coat. In his raised right hand, he is holding a plant, and in his left hand, he is clutching a magnifying glass. Some opened reference books are tucked under his arm. He has a specimen case slung over his back. The classic image was made into poster-sized prints in the 1970s.

It's one of my favorite pieces of botanical art.

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