July 24, 2020 Moss by Robert Miller, Benning Wentworth, Henry Shaw, Alexandre Dumas, Pigeon Peas, Chasing Eden by Jack Staub and Renny Reynolds, and the Dial-A-Garden-Tipline

Show Notes

Today we remember the man who brought Lilacs to America.

We'll also learn about the man who created the Missouri Botanical Gardens, also known as "Shaw's Garden."

We celebrate the French author, who exchanged his personal library for a lifetime supply of cantaloupe.

We also look back at an article from 1938 and the topic was tropical peas.

In Unearthed Words, we'll hear an excerpt from Vita Sackville-West.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a brand new book for 2020 about creating gorgeous gardens and design mastery. Let the chase begin.

And then we'll wrap things up with a little article from 1975 about something called the "Dial-A-Garden-Tipline."

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

Robert Miller: An ancient, ubiquitous plant easily ignored — but shouldn't be | RegisterCitizen.com

Because it’s tiny and everywhere, it’s easy to not see it.

But moss is really too remarkable to overlook.

Scientists now believe it was these simple plants, spreading like a carpet over the face of the then-barren earth that changed our atmosphere into the oxygen-rich state it’s now in and those allowed life to flourish here. Moss helped create our world.

“It’s all over the place,” said Cathy Hagadorn, executive director of Deer Pond Farm, the nature sanctuary in Sherman owned by Connecticut Audubon Society. “It’s beautiful.”

Birds use moss to line their nests. Four-toed salamanders lay their eggs in the sphagnum moss at the edge of swamps. Gardeners depend on peat moss to give new saplings a nice moisture-absorbing bed to start growing in.

Because they’re great at absorbing water, mosses prevent erosion. They play a part in the forest cycle, helping in the decomposition of downed trees and stumps.

And they’re great at returning oxygen to the atmosphere.

“Pound for pound, moss delivers more oxygen to the atmosphere than any other plant,” said Jim Fucetola, chief of operations at Moss Acres, a Pennsylvania-based company that sells moss to gardeners. “Fifteen percent of trees deliver oxygen to the atmosphere. For mosses, it’s 100 percent.”


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

1696  It's the birthday of the colonial governor of New Hampshire,  Benning Wentworth, who was born on this day in 1696.

American gardeners remember Benning because he brought the lilac along with other trees and shrubs when he immigrated to States from England.

In 1750, the first lilac was planted at the Wentworth home. In 1919, it was adopted as the New Hampshire State Flower because lawmakers felt it was,

"symbolic of the hardy character of the men and women of New Hampshire; the granite state."


1800  It's the birthday of the man who created the Missouri Botanical Gardens, also known as "Shaw's Garden," or "Hank's Garden" - the great horticulturist and botanical philanthropist Henry Shaw.

Henry is celebrated on the St. Louis Walk of Fame with this epitaph:

"Henry Shaw, only 18 when he came to St. Louis, was one of the city’s largest landowners by age 40. Working with leading botanists, he planned, funded and built the Missouri Botanical Garden, which opened in 1859. Henry donated the land for Tower Grove Park and helped with its construction. He wrote botanical tracts, endowed Washington University’s School of Botany, helped found the Missouri Historical Society, and gave the city a school and land for a hospital. Of Henry’s gifts, the Botanical Garden is best-known. Said as early as 1868 to have “no equal in the United States, and, indeed, few anywhere in the world."


In addition to the Botanical Garden, Henry built the Linnean House in 1882. It is the oldest continuously operated public greenhouse west of the Mississippi River and was initially designed to be an orangery, a place to overwinter citrus trees, palms, and tree ferns.

And, there's a little story I love that reveals Henry's regard for the plants in his garden.

It was posted in the St. Louis Star and Times on April 5, 1933:

"Mr. Shaw was escorting a lady through his gardens, pointing out objects of interest.

The visitor said: " I cannot understand, Sir, how you are able to remember all of these difficult names."

He replied, with a courtly bow, "Madame, did you ever know a mother to forget the names of her children? These plants and flowers are my little ones."


1802  Today is the birthday of French author of "The Three Musketeers" and gourmet Alexandre Dumas (" Doo-Ma").

Alexandre also wrote the Count of Monte Cristo, which contains many passages about the garden. Here's one for Chapter 44:

“The garden was long and narrow; a stretch of smooth turf extended down the middle, and at the corners were clumps of trees with thick and massy foliage, that made a background for the shrubs and flowers.”

Alexandre was a larger-than-life character, and there are actually quite a few stories about him that gardeners will find charming.

For instance, in the mid-1860s, the Library in Cavaillon ("Ca-VAY-on"), France was just getting started, and they asked Alexandre for a donation of some of his books.

Alexandre responded,

“I agree on one condition: Just as the town and the Cavaillon authorities love my books, so I love their melons. In exchange for my 300 or 400 books, I request a town by-law be passed giving me a life annuity of 12 Cavaillon melons a year.”

The town happily agreed to the terms Alexandre set forth, and Alexandre received a dozen Charentais ("Shar-en-TAY") melons every year until he passed away in 1870.

The cantaloupe melons of Cavaillon are perfectly suited to growing in the soil and climate of the Durance River Valley and are perfect for growing cantaloupe. Cavaillon is still the home of the sweet, Charentais melon. In fact, visitors to Cavaillon are greeted by a nine-ton statue of a Charentais melon, and the annual melon festival happens every year the weekend before Bastille day.

Now gardeners may wonder if a Charentais is similar to French cantaloupes or North American musk melons. Although they are related, they are not the same. Charentais melons are sweeter and have a jasmine and apricot fragrance.

Just before he died, Alexandre finished his final book, and he titled it Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine (The Grand Dictionary of Cuisine). It is especially poignant to see that Alexandre included an entry on the Charentais melon. In fact, Alexandre did not mince words, and he gushed that it was the greatest melon he'd ever encountered.

There is yet one more hilarious story about Alexandre that occurred when he was traveling in Switzerland. One day Alexandre decided he wanted mushrooms for supper. Now Alexandre spoke only French while the owner of the inn he was staying at spoke only German. To convey what he wanted, Alexandre quickly made a charcoal sketch of a mushroom on the wall. After seeing the sketch, the innkeeper went out for a while and then came back and presented Alexandre with an umbrella.

It was Alexandre Dumas who said,

All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope.

It is not the tree that forsakes the flower, but the flower that forsakes the tree.

To despise flowers is to offend God.


1938   On this day, The Miami News published an article with the title "Tropical Peas Will Mitigate Relief Wants."

The article begins this way,

"If English peas don't suit your palate, plant pigeon peas. The suggestion is that of a Miami pioneer, Charles F. Sulzner, who through the years has pointed out to newcomers the advantages of growing tropical fruits and vegetables, often of a type requiring no painstaking cultivation...

Pigeon peas, as Sulzner demonstrated in his spacious grounds, ...grow on trees, and may be had by the simple process of picking."

Pigeon peas make a lovely and distinct addition to the edible garden.

The cultivation of the pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), can be traced back more than 3,500 years. Other common names include Congo pea, Angola pea, and red gram. In Barbados, pigeon pea was used to feed pigeons.

Gardeners who love growing peas in the spring may thoroughly enjoy growing pigeon pea in the summer. It's a hardy perennial that can produce multiple harvests during the season.

The sweet, fresh green peas are technically beans. They can be eaten raw when green or dried. The dried beans need to be soaked before boiling.

Pigeon peas have a nutty taste and crisp texture. The entire pod may be eaten.

As a bonus, the yellow-red flowers attract flocks of hummingbirds, and the plants are also nitrogen-fixers and enrich the soil.


Unearthed Words

When skies are gentle, breezes bland.
When loam that's warm within the hand
Falls friable between the tines.
Sow hollyhocks and columbines.

The tufted pansy, and the tall
Snapdragon in the broken wall.
Not for this summer, but for next.
Since foresight is the gardener's text.

And though his eyes may never know
How lavishly his flowers blow.
Others will stand and musing say
'These were the flowers he sowed that May.'

But for this summer's quick delight
Sow marigold, and sow the bright
Frail poppy that with noonday dies
But wakens to afresh surprise:

Along the pathway, stones be set
Sweet Alysson and mignonette,
That when the full midsummer's come
On scented clumps the bees may-hum,

Golden Italians, and the wild
Black bumble-bee alike beguiled;  
And lovers who have never kissed
May sow the cloudy Love-in-Mist.

Nor be the little space forgot
For herbs to spice the kitchen pot:
Mint pennyroyal, bergamot.
Tarragon and melilot.

Dill for witchcraft, prisoner's rue.
Coriander, costmary.
Tansy, thyme. Sweet Cicely,
Saffron, balm, and rosemary

That since the Virgin threw her cloak
Across it, -so say cottage folk -
Has changed its flowers from white to blue.
But have a care that seeds be strewn
One night beneath a waxing moon.
And pick when the moon is on the wane.
Else shall your toil be all in vain ...
— Vita Sackville West, English author and garden designer, The Land


Grow That Garden Library

Chasing Eden by Jack Staub and Renny Reynolds

This book came out in January of this year, and the subtitle is Design Inspiration from the Gardens at Hortulus Farm.

This is one of my favorite new books for 2020. I adore the title.

The author Anna Pavord ("PAY-vord") said, "Vision, tenacity, and a perfectionist's eye are the qualities that shine out from this account of a paradise garden created by two of America's foremost stylists."

This is the overview from Timberpress:

“One of the most spectacular private gardens in America, Hortulus Farm is the masterpiece of Renny Reynolds and Jack Staub, renowned experts in the fields of design, gardening, and entertaining. It is beautifully captured in Chasing Eden, a lavishly illustrated roadmap to creating a personal Eden.

Hortulus Farm is a not only a model of classical tenets, but also a showcase of how traditions can be successfully broken. Gardeners will discover information on specific design principles, from vistas and allées to hardscaping and water features. They will also learn how to adapt these principles to less-than-optimal settings without sacrificing a site’s sense of place. Both aspirational and practical, Chasing Eden will inspire home gardeners to create their own earthly paradise.”

You will read this book and then head straight out to the garden. Let the chase begin!

This book is 272 pages of gorgeous gardens and design mastery - all shared to inspire today's gardener.

You can get a copy of Chasing Eden by Jack Staub and Renny Reynolds and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $23.


Today's Botanic Spark

On this day in 1975, the Green Bay Press-Gazette shared a little notice for their "Dial-A-Garden-Tipline."

Readers could dial the number at any time and hear a taped garden message. Here were the topics posted in the paper:

July 17 Russian Olive diseases

July 18, 19, 20 Dutch Elm disease

July 21 How to Blanch Vegetables

July 22 Growing Cauliflower

July 23 Birch Borer

July 24 Training Young Trees

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