July 23, 2020 Garden Hose Love Hate, Mukdenia rossii ‘Crimson Fans’, St. Phocas, Frances Ropes Williams, John Goldie, Garden Poetry, Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall, and Radish, Salmon, and Radish Green Salsa Verde Toasts

Show Notes

Today we remember a gardener who became a saint.

We'll also learn about the woman remembered forever in the name of one of the world's most popular hostas.

We celebrate the Scottish botanist who was the first to describe the Prairie Buttercup.

We'll also hear some wonderful words about simply being in the garden.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about gardening and friendship in a heartwarming book from 2015.

And then we'll wrap things up with a wonderful pesto recipe.

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

My Relationship With My Garden Hose | May Dreams Gardens

"In the spring, we optimistically buy that big heavy hose that is guaranteed to last a lifetime and never kink. And when we see that hose all wrapped up on the store shelf, we believe those claims.

Then we get it home and discover what bad manners it has. Kink? Of course, it will kink the minute you look at it and even think about watering. Heavy? So heavy you can barely stand the thought of pulling it around the garden to water."


Plant of the Week: Mukdenia rossii' Crimson Fans' ("muck-DEEN-ee-uh")

"In 2007, I bought Mukdenia rossii 'Crimson Fans' after somewhere seeing--I forget now--photos of the pretty leaves.

It grew. It's an easy plant with no fussy requirements at all except moist soil. (But wait.)

...Eventually, if the conditions are right, the green leaves develop a pretty crimson margin--the 'Crimson Fans'. Yes, I'm a fan of the crimson fans.

And this, my friends, is where things get tricky--"if the conditions are right" being the operative phrase. Too much sun and the leaves will burn by turning brown. Not enough sun and the leaves will stay green.

The challenge has been finding just the right balance between sun and shade. I've had this plant both in the ground and in a pot, as the trial and error experiment went on, year after year, trying one location after another to meet--but not exceed--the sunlight requirements."


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

300  Today, Catholics honor St. Phocas the Gardener who lived in Turkey during the third century.

A protector of persecuted Christians, Phocas grew crops in his garden to help feed the poor.

Phocas is remembered for his hospitality and generosity; his garden played an essential part in living both of those virtues.

When Roman soldiers were sent to kill him, they could not find shelter for the night.

Naturally, when Phocas encountered them, he not only offered them lodging but a meal made from the bounty of his garden. During the meal, Phocas realized they had come for him. While the soldiers slept that night, he dug his own grave and prayed for the soldiers. In the morning, Phocas told the soldiers who he was, and the soldiers, who could conceive of no other option, reluctantly killed him and buried him in the grave he had dug for himself.

Although gardening can be a solitary activity, Phocas, the gardener, paved the way, showing us how to use our gardens to connect us to others through generosity and hospitality.


1883  Today is the birthday of the woman who is remembered for one of the most popular hostas in American gardens: Frances Ropes Williams.

Frances had a shady garden in Winchester, Massachusetts. And, what is the most-used plant by shade gardeners? Hostas. That's right.

And Frances had an appreciation for hostas before they became widely used in American gardens. A graduate of MIT, Williams was lucky enough to get the chance to work with Warren H. Manning, the famous Boston landscape architect, for a little over two years.

Frances stopped working to marry Stillman Williams. But sadly, he died after almost twenty years of marriage, leaving Frances with four young children - two boys and two girls.

Frances and her family loved the outdoors. When the kids were little, Frances made them one of the very first playsets.

When the children were grown, Frances found purpose in her garden, and she zeroed in on her hostas. She became known for hybridizing them, and she even wrote about them for various botanical magazines.

Frances discovered the hosta that would be named for her honor quite by happenstance. She had visited her daughter in college in New York, and she stopped by Bristol Nurseries in Connecticut on her way home. Nestled in a row of Hosta sieboldiana, was a hosta that had a yellow edge. Frances bought it and continued to grow it in her garden.

Years later, Frances hosta ended up in the hands of Professor George Robinson at Oxford. Frances had labeled the plant FRW 383. When the professor couldn't remember what Frances had labeled the plant, he simply called it hosta Frances Williams.

Frances's work with hosta helped the newly-formed American Hosta Society. After she died in 1969, a hosta garden was planted in her memory at MIT.


1886   Today is the anniversary of the death of the Scottish-born botanist and author John Goldie. He led an extraordinary life.

He started as an apprentice at the Glasgow Botanic Garden. As a young man, another botanist bumped him off what was to be his first plant exploration. However, the botanical gods were smiling on him. The expedition was doomed when most of the party died from coast fever along the Congo River.

Two years later, William Hooker encouraged John to travel to North America. He started in Montreal and made his way down the Hudson River to New York. He wrote that he carried as many botanical specimens "as his back would carry."

On June 25, 1819, John was in Toronto. When he reached the east side of the Rouge River, John wrote in his journal of the wildflowers and especially the Penstemon hirsutus ("her-SUE-tis") that was growing on the east slope of the riverbank. John was astounded by the beauty and of seeing so much Penstemon in "such a quantity of which I never expected to see in one place."

During John's incredible walking tour of Canada, he discovered a yellow variety of pitcher plant as well as a rare orchid named Calypso bulbosa. He also encountered the Prairie buttercup. John was the first person to describe Prairie buttercup.

The name for the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, is from the Latin term Ranunculus which means "little frog." The name was first bestowed on the plant family by the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder. The name Ranunculus, which I like to call the Ranunculaceae, is in reference to these mostly aquatic plants that tend to grow in natural frog habitat.

After his North American tour, John returned to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, and for five years, he trained an eager young apprentice and fellow Scottsman named David Douglas. When Douglas met an early death, John planted a Douglas-Fir next to his house to remember his young friend.

After John discovered the giant wood fern, Hooker called it Dryopteris goldieana in his honor, and it earned the name Goldie's woodfern.

John worked tirelessly, and he recorded a total of fourteen plant species previously unknown to science. In 1844, John ended up settling with his family in Canada. He brought them to Ontario - a place he had especially enjoyed during his botanical expeditions.


Unearthed Words

Here are some wonderful thoughts about simply being in the garden.

I love my garden, and I love working in it. To potter with green growing things, watching each day to see the dear, new sprouts come up, is like taking a hand in creation, I think. Just now, my garden is like faith - the substance of things hoped for.
― Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canadian author, Anne's House of Dreams


Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful!' and sitting in the shade.
― Rudyard Kipling, English journalist and poet


It takes a while to grasp that not all failures are self-imposed, the result of ignorance, carelessness, or inexperience. It takes a while to grasp that a garden isn't a testing ground for character and to stop asking, what did I do wrong? Maybe nothing.
— Eleanor Perenyi, gardener and author 


She keeps walking, so I keep following, making our way down a stone path that leads to a set of tiered gardens. It is magical back here, garden after garden, the first filled with herbs like Mama grows, rosemary and lavender and mint and sage. Beyond that is a rose garden. There must be fifty rose bushes in it, all with different-colored blooms. We keep walking, down to the third tier, where there are tended beds like Daddy's vegetable patch in our backyard.

"Look at this," Keisha says.

She stands beside row upon row of little green plants with thick green leaves. She kneels beside one of them and pulls back a leaf. There are small red strawberries growing underneath. She picks one and hands it to me. I've never eaten a strawberry that tastes like this before. It's so rich, with juice like honey. It's nothing like the ones Mama buys at Kroger.
― Susan Rebecca White, author, A Place at the Table


Grow That Garden Library

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall

This book came out in 2015, and the subtitle is: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart.

People Magazine said,

"In this profoundly moving memoir, Owita teaches Wall how to find grace amid heartbreak and to accept that beauty exists because it is fleeting—as in her garden, as in life."

Oprah.com said,

"With her children grown and out of the house, Carol Wall is obsessed—perhaps overly so—with ripping out her azaleas. That is until she meets a certain Giles Owita, Kenyan gardener, supermarket bagger, general-life philosopher, and perhaps one of the most refined and gracious characters to ever hit the page (except that he's real)… A warning for the shy: The basic goodness of Owita's attitude may cause you to beam spontaneously as you read, leading to off looks from strangers at the coffee shop."

This book is 320 pages of gardening goodness - growing both plants and lovely friendship.

You can get a copy of Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $20.


Today's Botanic Spark

Since we are in full-on pesto-making mode, I wanted to share a recipe that I discovered called Radish, Salmon, and Radish Green Salsa Verde Toasts by Amy Scattergood.


Radish-Green Salsa Verde

2 cups radish greens, from approximately 2 bunches, chopped
1 cup cilantro
1/ 2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
Zest and juice from 1 orange

In a food processor or blender, combine the radish greens, cilantro, oil, garlic, a pinch of salt (or to taste), lemon zest and juice, and orange zest and juice. Blend until smooth. This makes about 1 1 / 2 cups salsa verde.

4 ounces crème fraîche
4 slices whole wheat or country white bread, toasted
4 ounces smoked salmon, more if desired
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
Prepared salsa verde

Divide the crème fraîche among the toasted bread slices, spreading it evenly over each piece. Top with the salmon, followed by the radish slices. Drizzle or spoon over the salsa verde and serve immediately.

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