Today we remember the creation of legislation that turned 778 acres of land into a beloved park in New York City.
We'll also learn about the State Flower of Maine - it's the only floral emblem that does not produce a blossom.
We salute the Swarthmore ("SWATH-more") College alumni and horticulturist who created a magnificent garden at their home known as Todmorden ("Todd-MORE-din").
We'll also read some poems that celebrate the new habits we cultivate in the summer.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about authors and their gardens - love this topic.
And then we'll wrap things up with an old article about rose care during the heat of the summer.
But first, let's catch up on some Greetings from Gardeners around the world and today's curated news.
And I celebrate my dad's 78th birthday! Happy Birthday, Dad!
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.
Here's an excerpt:
“This June we had the opportunity to do a garden tour in a large residential garden.
We took several precautions, starting with using SignUpGenius to take reservations in half-hour increments. We extended tour hours from one to two. We required everyone check-in, wear a mask, and use social distancing while in the garden.”
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.
1853 On this day, the legislation that created Central Park passed.
Central Park was allowed 778 acres of land and was created by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux ("Vox"). The Park was inspired by England's Birkenhead Park, which was created by Joseph Paxton.
And there were many wonderful firsts that happened during the construction fo the Park. Vaux first coined the term landscape architect while working on the Park. And Olmsted imagined a gathering place for all social classes, a place where everyone could come together and enjoy nature. And, it was after Olmsted's work on Central Park as well as Boston's Emerald Necklace, Forest Park in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, that Olmsted became known as America's Park-maker.
Now, as with any project, the development of Central Park hit some speed bumps. For instance, the American architect Richard Morris Hunt clashed with Olmsted and Vaux over his design for one of the entrances to the Park. Although Hunt had won a competition to design the southern entrance, Olmsted and Vaux balked when they saw Hunt's plan.
You see, Hunt had designed this very elaborate grand entrance - something he called the Gate of Peace. It included a circular fountain within a square parterre. But the most magnificent part of his plan was a semi-circular terrace complete with a 50-foot column. At the base of the column, there was going to be a monument to Henry Hudson. And then, the pool around it would feature Neptune in his chariot and Henry Hudson standing on the prowl of a ship.
Hunt really believed the public would embrace his grand vision and so he decided to promote his designs for the Park all on his own. But Hunt did not appreciate Vaux's power to squelch his idea. Although privately, Vaux said that Hunt's plans were "splendid and striking,"; publicly, he told a friend they were, "what the country had been fighting against... Napoleon III in disguise all over." Vaux summarized that Hunt's designs were "not American, but the park was."
Ironically, in 1898, a memorial to Richard Morris Hunt was installed in Central Park. It's located on the eastern perimeter of the Park, and it was created by the same man who created the monument to Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial: Daniel Chester French.
Today, Central Park is also home to Strawberry Fields, a two and ½ acre garden memorial dedicated to the memory of John Lennon.
Yoko Ono and Lennon used to enjoy strolls through that section of Central Park after they moved to the Dakota building. After Lennon was shot, Ono came up with the idea for the memorial.
During the installation of the memorial, Ono said,
"It is our way of taking a sad song and making it better."
Now initially, the concept called for every nation to donate a remembrance tree to Strawberry Fields. But soon, Ono and the New York City Parks and Recreation Commission found themselves dealing with trees that couldn't grow in a northern climate.
So, they made a second request: Send us some trees for Strawberry Fields. This time, when they sent the request, they did something very smart. They sent some instructions and tips about what trees would survive New York winters. Now that second request brought 150 specimens from countries around the world. For instance, England sent an English Oak tree, Canada, a Maple tree.
But there was one notable exception to the list of countries that sent trees, and it was the United States. Sadly, the Reagan White House never acknowledged the request.
And, in case you're wondering, the Strawberry Fields memorial was made possible by a $1 million donation from Yoko Ono to the city. It didn't cost taxpayers a dime.
1945 On this day, the White Pine Xone and Tassel (Pinus strobus) were named the Maine State Flower on July 21, 1945.
And here's a little-known fact about Maine's selection: Maine is the only state with a floral emblem that does not produce a blossom.
And, I thought you would enjoy this little post from The New England Farmer. They shared the story of how the White Pine Cone came to be the State Flower:
"Mrs. Jane Dingley is the state chairman of the Maine floral emblem society, and … said [although] the apple blossom would make a fine appearance in a garland,... it withers and falls the day it is born and can hardly represent the enduring nature of our state.
Goldenrod is perhaps the most widespread of all Maine's flowers, but … the petals are so fine it would make an indistinct blur in the hands of the engraver.
The grand old pine, however, has none of these faults. It is green and beautiful in summer and winter.
So there you go; Mrs. Jane Dingley was making her case for the White Pine.
And as luck would have it, the Maine state pomological society also agreed with Jane:
"We should select the pine as our floral emblem on account of its historical value. It was the pine tree that made our state; it was the great giants and monarchs of the forest that attracted the king of England to this country. He sent out his emissaries to select them for his masts."
Of course, what they mean is that England used the White Pines to build their ships.
And if you're confused by that term Monarch of the Forest, listen to this: The Eastern White Pine (Pinaceae Pinus strobus) is regarded as the largest conifer in the northeastern United States. It's often referred to as the Monarch of the North.
1960 Today is the anniversary of the death of the heiress and horticulturist Edith Wilder Scott.
When Edith was a young woman, she met and fell in love with Arthur Scott at Swarthmore College. Arthur, by the way, invented the throw-away paper towel and was the heir of the Scott Paper Company. After their wedding, the young couple toured New Zealand on a year-long honeymoon.
In the early 1900s, Arthur and Edith bought an old ramshackle country club in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia), and they turned it into their home. They christened their new place Todmorden Farm. And, today it is on National Register of Historic Places.
Both Edith and Arthur loved horticulture, and they surrounded Todmorden with gardens. Together they had a special love for lilacs, iris, peonies, and rhododendrons. In fact, Arthur helped found the American Peony Society and was an active member of the American Iris Society. Arthur believed that,
"If a person was interested in horticulture and loved flowers, then he had to be a good man."
Like her husband, Arthur, Edith hybridized many of the plants on their property, which resulted in many awards and medals for her. For her success with horticulture, Edith became a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1950. And she was also bestowed with an honorary degree by Swarthmore College.
In 1929, after Arthur died, Edith worked to establish the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College in her husband's honor.
The current arboretum director, Claire Sawyers, said that Edith wanted the arboretum to display ornamental plants that plant lovers could study and learn from. Today, the arboretum contains several plant specimens named for the Scotts, and it also specializes in teaching horticulture by visual demonstration - one of the best ways to learn. And at the time of its creation, the arboretum curator Andrew Bunting added:
"Perhaps Scott's true passion was plants, not paper."
And there's one final sidenote about Arthur Scott that is particularly relevant today: his reason for inventing the paper towel - which was featured in his obituary:
"In the early 1900s, there was a severe flu epidemic in Philadelphia. Arthur heard that a teacher had cut paper for her students to blow their noses on, so he invented a throw-away paper towel. This story was told to the family by Arthur's daughter and the resulting invention is supported by his patent application #US1141495 of Nov. 10, 1910 (issued June 1, 1915). It noted,
'My object is to embody in the towel, cleanliness and antiseptic qualities, coupled with such cheapness that the towel may be destroyed after use. The towels are preferably formed in rolls, so that only one towel at a time may be exposed and detached, the roll form in which the towels are arranged acting to protect the unused towels from absorbing moisture and gases from the atmosphere.'
This is how the paper towel was first marketed as a medical device for sanitation purposes.
The inventions of the paper towel and throw away ScotTissues were two of the most important contributions to our health. Encouraging the washing of hands by providing a disposable towel, minimized the spreading of germs and a multitude of diseases."
Here are some thoughts about the new habits we cultivate in the summer.
Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.
— Sam Keen, American author and professor
In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
— Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist and writer, Bed in Summer
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in April of 2020, and it explores the relationships between "relationships: authors and their gardens. "
The Daily Telegraph said,
“This is a gardening book that takes readers not on a walk around great estates but on a tour of great minds…It's a lovely extension on the notion that gardens make you contemplative and in working with the soil you see life's big picture.”
The book is 208 pages of authors and their gardens. For example:
“Why did Marcel Proust (“Proost”) have bonsai beside his bed?
What was Jane Austen doing, coveting an apricot?
How was Friedrich Nietzsche inspired by his ‘thought tree’?”
Today's Botanic Spark
1951 Today the Lancaster Era newspaper out of Lancaster Pennsylvania reported on rose care during the heat of the summer.
Here's an excerpt:
“Hot Summer weather is not a serious problem to healthy rose plants as long as a regular schedule of care is followed. Giving roses an adequate water supply is probably the prime responsibility during these hot dry periods. A plentiful supply of water is important to keep up the blooming rate and growth and to build energy which will mean better plants next year.
...The best method is to let the hose slowly trickle over a board at the base of the plants. … An important thing to remember is to avoid wetting the foliage of rose plants when watering the beds since this practice often contributes to the spread of fungus diseases. Naturally, a good damp soil attracts weeds, but these unwelcome guests may be discouraged by mulching with … composted grass clippings, buckwheat hulls, ground corn cobs, or other available material.“
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