July 19, 2020  Ann-Marie Powell’s Lockdown Garden, Mary Delany, Caroline Dormon, Leslie Coulson, John Macoun, Keeping July by Joanna O’Sullivan, Garden to Table by the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen, and Robert Fenton

Show Notes

Today we celebrate the decoupage botanical artist that left her mark on botanical history.

We'll also learn about a Louisiana botanist, naturalist, and author who lived in a home called Briarwood.

We salute the English poet who was killed in WWI - he appreciated the pure beauty of flowers.

We also recognize one of Canada's leading botanists - he was 90 years old when he died on this day 100 years ago.

We honor July with a beautiful poem called Keeping July.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that inspired kids to cook with their garden harvest, and it's part of the best-selling American Girl cooking series.

And then we'll wrap things up with the Landscape Architect who fought to have a tree instead of a parking meter in front of his office building.

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

Ann-Marie Powell talks lockdown and sharing her garden.

"No one is more surprised at the success of her lockdown project than Ann-Marie Powell. The popularity of her daily Instagram Live posts from her garden is, she says, simply astonishing.

Begun on day one of lockdown and broadcast every day since, the My Real Garden account now has more than 9,500 followers, making it more successful than her official design Instagram feed. In fact, it's become such a part of her life she's planning to keep it going even as lockdown eases.

Ann-Marie has turned a corner of her garden into a studio. The award-winning designer and RHS judge started the My Real Garden feed after being inundated with requests for gardening advice from friends as Britain went into lockdown. Someone suggested she put the advice online and base it on her own Hampshire garden, which had been sadly neglected while her house was done up.

'My garden was literally full of weeds because it had not been looked after for two years. I like to be doing so I thought it'll motivate me, it'll be like a bit of a diary and if I put it out there that I've got to do it. I didn't realize that so many people would be interested!'

Broadcast live every lunchtime, My Real Garden followed Ann-Marie, who trained at Capel Manor, as she shaped her lawn, planted fruit and chose plants for shady spots. There's been advice on watering and deadheading to keep summer displays going."

My Real Garden reaches its 100th consecutive broadcast today, July 1, and will now become a twice-weekly rather than daily event with the Sunday Social at 12.30 BST and the new Wine and Water Wednesday at 7 pm when followers will join Ann-Marie to water their gardens with wine in hand.

'My Real Garden' will continue twice a week on Instagram Live

Although she's done television in the past, it's the freedom of the Instagram Live that Ann-Marie has loved: 'It's been really lovely just being in charge of what I say. I can be as silly as I want, have a bit of a laugh, and God knows, haven't we needed to have a laugh.'

And she’s made virtual friends from as far away as Canada, Belgium and Detroit.

'It's just been amazing to just have this nurturing, lively, thriving community of like-minded people.'

You can follow My Real Garden on Instagram at @myrealgarden, and there's more information on the website."


What's the Difference Between Oregano and Marjoram?

If you've grown both, you know they look quite similar, and they are often confused for one another. But, when it comes to flavor and taste, it is easy to tell them apart.

Oregano tends to be earthy, pungent, and spicy. It can easily overpower the other flavors in a dish. To subdue the pungency, cooks recommend using the dried form of oregano.

On the other hand, marjoram is milder. Use that alliteration to help you remember, Mild Marjoram. Marjoram's flavor is more refined; it's floral and woodsy. Because marjoram is sweeter and milder, chefs recommend using fresh marjoram instead of dried marjoram for cooking.


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

1744 On this day, the botanical tissue paper decoupage artist Mary Delany wrote to her sister about her garden.

Mary Delany had an extraordinary life. Her family had forced her to marry a sixty-year-old man when she was 17. He was an alcoholic. To make matters worse, when he died, he forgot to include her in his will.

Despite her lack of inheritance, Mary realized that, as a widow, she had much more freedom than she had as a single young lady. In society, she could do as she pleased.

Fate brought fortune for Mary when love came knocking on her door in June 1743. Mary met an Irish doctor named Patrick Delany. He was also a pastor. Although her family wasn't thrilled with the idea of a second marriage to the son of a servant, Mary did it anyway. She and Patrick moved to his home in Dublin, and his garden was a thing of beauty, which leads us to the letter Mary wrote to her sister on this day in 1744. Mary wrote:

"[The] fields are planted in a wild way, forest trees and … bushes that look so natural... you would not imagine it a work of art ... [There is] a very good kitchen garden and two fruit gardens which ... will afford us a sufficient quantity of everything we can want. There are several prettinesses I can't explain to you — little wild walks, private seats, and lovely prospects. One seat I am particularly fond of [is] in a nut grove, and [there is] a seat in a rock … [that] is placed at the end of a cunning wild path. The brook ... entertains you with a purling rill."


Mary and Patrick were happily married for twenty-five years.

When Patrick died, Mary was widowed again; this time at the age of 68.

But Mary's life was not over.

She hit it off with Margaret Bentinck. Bentinck was the Duchess of Portland, and together they pursued botanical activities. They loved to go out into the fields and collect specimens. It was thanks to the Duchess that Mary got to know Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander.

When Mary was in her early 70s, she took up decoupage - which was all the rage at the time - and she created marvelous depictions of flowers. Today, historians believe Mary probably dissected plants to create her art. Botanists from all over Europe would send her specimens. King George the Third and Queen Charlotte were her patrons. They ordered any curious or beautiful plant to be sent to Mary when in blossom so she could use them to create her art.

Her paper mosaics, as Mary called them, were made out of tissue paper. Mary created almost 1000 pieces of art between the ages of 71 and 88.

If you ever see any of her most spectacular decoupage pieces, you'll be blown away at the thought of them being made from tiny pieces of tissue paper by Mary Delany in the twilight of her life in the late 1700s.


1888 It's the birthday of the naturalist, botanist, ornithologist, prizewinning horticulturist, painter, archaeologist, historian, author of six books, and a proud daughter of the great state of Louisiana: Caroline Dormon.

Her friends called her "Carrie."

Carrie was a tiny woman; she was also a powerhouse, forming her own opinions and ideas about the natural world.

A traditionalist, Carrie always wore dresses - she thought pants were quite scandalous.

Carrie was born at her family's summer home called Briarwood. It would become her forever home and a national treasure.

In the 1920s, Carrie built a writing cabin at Briarwood she called Three Pines because of the trio of tall pines around it. Carrie told her friends it was a place for daydreams.

By the 1950s, a second cabin was built at Briarwood. Carrie liked to take the screens off the windows every spring so wrens could build nests inside.

At Briarwood, Carrie installed trails through the woods, and she planted hundreds of plants. She even installed a reflecting pool for "Grandpappy" - her name for her favorite tree on the property.

Grandpappy is estimated to be over 300 years old; he's a longleaf pine, and he's still alive today.

And, I thought you would enjoy a story about Grandpappy that Carrie used to share with visitors:

Once a forester wanted to "core" Grandpappy to determine a more exact age for the tree. Carrie stopped him and said, "It's none of your business how old Grandpappy is, or how old I am for that matter."

And that's quintessentially Carrie Dorman, aka the Queen of the Forest Kingdom.


1889 Today is the birthday of the WWI English poet Leslie Coulson who was killed in action at the Battle of Le Transloy, in France.

Coulson wrote:

The gold stalks hide
Bodies of men who died
Charging at dawn through the dew to be killed or to kill.
I thank the gods that the flowers are beautiful still.


1920 Today is the 100th anniversary of the death of one of Canada's leading botanists John Macoun. He was 90 years old when he died.

Here's a little story John shared about growing up in Ireland:

"We had a garden well fenced in. [My mom] encouraged us to spend our idle time in it...I seemed to prefer taking an old knife and going out to the fields and digging up flowers and bringing them in and making a flower garden of my own. I only remember primroses and the wild hyacinth. Another characteristic was the power of seeing. I could find more strawberries and more birds' nests ... than any other boy."

After arriving in Canada, John had started out as a farmer. In 1856, he became a school teacher, partly to nourish his nearly "obsessive" interest in botany, but also to find a more balanced life. John wrote that before teaching,

"I had never had more than one holiday in the year, and that was Christmas Day. [My brother,] Frederick, and I might take a day's fishing in the summer, but an eight-mile walk and scrambling along the river was not very restful."

Within five years, John had begun regular correspondence with prominent botanists like Asa Gray and Sir William Hooker.

In John's autobiography, there are many touching passages about his love of botany. Here's a little glimpse into how he cultivated his understanding of plants:

"I would take a common species of roadside or garden plant of which I knew the name and then immediately endeavor to work out its correct name from the classification. The Mullein was the species that I took first. I found it more difficult than I had thought on account of its long and short stamens, but I soon came to understand the arrangement of the stamens and pistils so well that most plants could be classified by their form alone."

Once, John was approached by his future father-in-law, Simon Terrill, who was a bit skeptical of John's prospects. John wrote,

"Simon Terrill, who was a well-known Quaker in that district, ... found me with a plant in my hand and said: 'John, what dost thee ever expect to make out of the study of botany?' told him that I did not know but that it gave me a great deal of pleasure."


Unearthed Words

Dens of chairs and blankets,
a circus show at home,
lines and nets and rackets,
no-one keeping score.
Eight books each to represent,
a fox in socks surveys,
on July first the power went
and the movie was delayed.
Calves the very height of style
in all their sepia glory,
starlings at the seaside
taking inventory.
Lettuce growing rivalry
in green and purple lines,
questions answered silently,
learning to tell time.
Rapunzel can no longer hide,
rooster calling on repeat,
Gorse clicks and crackles from all sides,
a nineties dance floor beat.
Chippings, pavers, rollers,
our road consolidated,
filling tearing, smokers
keep children fascinated.
A linnet pair on seedy heads,
thrushes gobbling berries,
an old pink paper license,
explaining pounds and pennies.
Old heads of lavender
on thin but sturdy stalks
we edge through the calendar
these days not to recall.
— Joanna O'Sullivan, Irish writer and poet, Keeping July


Grow That Garden Library

Garden to Table by the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen

This book came out in 2018. It is part of the best-selling American Girl cooking series, and the subtitle is Fresh Recipes to Cook & Share.

This book features recipes from six categories of garden harvests: veggies, herbs, berries, fruits, root vegetables and gourds, and citrus.

The book is 144 pages of over 50 Recipes for kid-friendly dishes highlighting seasonal ingredients from the garden.

You can get a copy of Garden to Table by the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $9.


Today's Botanic Spark

1933 Today is the birthday of Landscape Architect Robert Fenton who was born in 1933.

Robert was a Harvard grad, and he settled down in Pennsylvania.

While researching Robert, it was impossible to avoid all the newspaper articles that covered a disagreement Robert had with the city of Pittsburgh.

In 1965, Robert was a young, 32-year-old Landscape Architect with an office at 6010 Centre Avenue. Newspaper accounts said he had wanted to "spruce up what he called a drab neighborhood in the East Liberty section." After trying for weeks to get permission to plant a tree in front of his building from the City Forester Earl Blankenship, Robert decided it was better to ask forgiveness, and went ahead with the planting. Robert told reporters that planting the tree was in line with President Johnson's thinking on beautification and that,

"If you try to get anything done through the city, you get, "no, no, no." So we decided to break up the sidewalk and put it in... hoping no one would notice. Unfortunately, the installation accidentally took out a parking meter."

Newspaper accounts shared that,

"In the dead of night, Fenton brought in a high lift, a 15-ton truck, and five men. The tree he had selected was a beauteous 25-foot ash with a five-inch base and it cost Fenton $110 (in 1965). The total project cost Fenton $275."

The city departments took umbrage at Robert's actions. After two weeks of discussions, the City Attorney David Stahl said the tree was cut down and hauled away by City Forester Earl Blankenship in the middle of the night. Robert came to work and was shocked to discover the tree gone, cut down to the ground. Just days earlier, Robert had told town reporters that,

"I think it's going to be so difficult to remove the tree that the city will let it stay and merely warn me not to let it happen again."

Newspaper accounts of this story were super punny:

Tree Goes, City Barks

Citizen on a Limb

Poetic Tale of a Tree Somehow Lacks Meter

A Tree Grew In...Violation

'Woodman Spare That Tree' Cry of Architect Falls on Deaf Ears

City Thinks Meter Lovelier Than Tree

Want Meter There and No Shady Deal

Today, if you look at the same spot on Google Earth, whaddya know? There's a tree growing in front of the building... but there's no parking meter.

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