July 27, 2020 Piet Oudolf Finds Solace in the Garden, Jeanne Baret, Horatio Hollis Hunnewell, Benjamin Lincoln Robinson, Hewett Cottrell Watson, William T. Hutchins, Silly Garden Poems, Rustic Garden Projects by Marianne Svärd Häggvik, and Bernadette Cozart.
Today we remember the first woman to have circumnavigated the world.
We'll also learn about the wealthy horticulturist who built a magnificent estate on the shores of Lake Waban.
We celebrate the botanist who was the first editor of Rhodora, the New England Botanical Club's journal.
We also salute the father of British plant geography.
We honor the Reverend, who wrote two sweet little books for Burpee about sweet peas.
Today's Unearthed Words feature some silly light-hearted poems about the garden.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that gives us something to do in terms of projects for our garden,
And then we'll wrap things up with the story of the woman who founded the Greening of Harlem.
But first, let's catch up on some Greetings from Gardeners around the world and today's curated news.
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Landscape designer Piet Oudolf on finding solace in the garden | PBS NewsHour
“The world has looked strange these past months, familiar places no longer familiar at all.
Many people have turned to their own or community gardens during this period, growing vegetables and flowers, nourishing body and soul. Gardening centers have been among the first essential businesses to reopen. Sales of seeds have soared.
Piet Oudolf isn't surprised.”
Piet Oudolf ("Peet Ow-dolf") quotes from the transcript:
"I think every day is an experience, because there's always something you will like, and it's not only about the plants. It's also about the light and the movement.
Once you touch the plants and just start to work with them, there's a big chance that you get lost in the world of plants and that you want to experience more of gardening.
You can think while you're gardening. You can think about life and how to follow up after this crisis.
But at least people want to go to places where I normally would go to, to gardens and to parks. And I think that people will realize that we, as human beings, need that, to feel good.
What I say for people that just start gardening, I think anything that you see at the garden center that you like can be a good start — to become a serious gardener."
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.
1740 Today is the birthday of the explorer and botanist Jeanne Baret.
Jeanne was the first woman to have circumnavigated the globe as part of the expedition, which was led by Louis Antoine de Bougainville.
Beret was able to join the expedition after posing as a valet to the expedition's naturalist: Philibert Commerçon.
Before the expedition, Jeanne had been employed as Commerçon's housekeeper. A few years later, his wife died, and Jeanne took over the management of the household and began a personal relationship with Commerçon.
Commerçon had poor health, and it was likely that he needed Jeanne to join him on the expedition because he needed her assistance.
Jeanne was an excellent botanist in her own right. When the ship stopped in Rio de Janeiro, an old leg injury prevented Commerçon from collecting specimens. Thus, it was Jeanne who ventured out into the tropics and returned with the lovely tropical vine that would be named to honor the expedition's commander: Bougainvillea.
1810 Today is the birthday of one of America's most prominent horticulturalists – Horatio Hollis Hunnewell.
Horatio was staggeringly wealthy. He was a railroad financier. But he also had a lifelong love of nature and gardening.
When Horatio purchased over 40 acres of land along the eastern and southern shores of Lake Waban ("Wah-bin"), he built a magnificent estate there. He had married Isabella Pratt Wells, and he decided to call his impressive home Wellesley in honor of his wife's maiden name.
When it came time for the nearby town and college to settle on a name, they also chose the name Wellesley after discussing the matter with Horatio, who happened to be the most generous benefactor of the city.
The Hunnewell estate was so large that when the Hunnewell children grew up, seven of the nine had homes built on the property - right next to their parent's original house. Aside from the impressive homes, Horatio added many magnificent features to the estate, including a pinetum with over 325 specimens of conifers.
Hollis Honeywell made the following remark in 1899 about his trees,
"No Vanderbilt, with all his great wealth, can possess one of these [trees] for the next 50 years, for could not be grown in less time than that."
And, Horatio also installed the very first Topiary Garden in America at Wellesley. He referred to it as the Italian Garden, and it was ideally situated along the shore of Lake Waban. When it came to the Topiary Garden, Horatio went all out. Whenever he had guests, Horatio would have them hop aboard a large authentic Italian Gondola boat complete with an authentically dressed gondola man. After they glided up to the Topiary Gardens, they would stop and take a tour. Horatio's shores rivaled that of Lake Como in northern Italy.
It's difficult to fathom how much attention this one-of-a-kind garden received from the public. Thousands of visitors from all over the country came to Wellesley just to see the topiary garden firsthand. Many more took in its beauty through photographs and engravings published in the most popular periodicals of the time.
To this day — a century and a half later — the Hunnewell Topiary Garden is among the most spectacular sites in the region.
There are a few stories about Horatio I discovered during my research. The first is that Horatio and his friend Nathaniel Thayer Jr. brought the game of tennis to America. The second story is that Horatio was the first person to cultivate and popularize rhododendrons In the United States.
1864 Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist Benjamin Lincoln Robinson.
In 1892, Benjamin was appointed the curator of the Asa Gray Herbarium at Harvard.
When Benjamin took over, both the herbarium and the library were in dire straits. Benjamin brought in funding and expanded the herbarium. Today, the Gray Herbarium and library are still housed at Harvard at 22 Divinity Ave.
In 1899, the first issue of the New England Botanical Club's journal, Rhodora, was published. And, Rhodora's first editor was Benjamin.
1881 Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist and the father of British plant geography Hewett Cottrell Watson.
In recognition of his significant contributions, the botanical society of the British Isles named their journal Watsonia.
Beginning in 1834, Hewett was one of the first botanists to research plant evolution. Hewett's work also paved the way for a new science now known as ecology.
When Darwin created his theory of evolution, he was standing on the shoulders of curious early evolutionists like Hewett.
Darwin's popularity and success overshadowed the folks like Hewett, who came before him. Yet, it's evident that when Hewett read Darwin's Origin, his reaction was one of wonder... and also self-reflection. He spent his adult life trying to reach Darwin's conclusion. Now, as an older man, he could see the match he had lit being passed to a true torch-bringer.
After reading the origin, Hewett wrote to Darwin. Hewett's letter is a part proud dad, part awed fan, and yet, he still takes time to advise Darwin on areas to improve or take heed. In two different passages, Hewett points out that Darwin had succeeded where he had stopped short, saying Darwin had figured out the quo modo or the method to knit the strings of the theory of evolution together.
Hewett's letter to Darwin is quite something to read – even after all this time:
21 Nov 1859
My dear Sir
Once [I started] to read the ‘Origin’ I could not rest [until] I had galloped through [all of it]. I shall now begin to re-read it more deliberately. Meantime I am tempted to write you [my] first impressions…
1st. Your leading idea will assuredly become recognized as an established truth in science, i.e. “natural selection”. (It has the characteristics of all great natural truths, clarifying what was obscure, simplifying what was intricate, adding greatly to previous knowledge). You are the greatest Revolutionist in natural history of this century, if not of all centuries.
2d. You will perhaps need … to limit or modify, ... the principle of ‘natural selection’.
3d. Now [that] these novel views are brought… before the scientific public, it seems truly remarkable how [we didn’t see them sooner]..
A quarter-century ago, you & I must have [had]the same state of mind... But you were able to see & work out [the theory], … while I failed to grasp it. ...
How greatly this...will shock the ideas of many men!
very sincerely | Hewett C. Watson to C. Darwin | Esq.
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2540,” accessed on 26 April 2019, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2540
1895 On this day, a photo of the horticulturist and Reverend William T. Hutchins of Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, appeared in the Springfield Republican.
William is remembered for his book called "All About Sweet Peas," published in 1892 by the Burpee Seed Company. Five years later, William wrote another book for Burpee called Sweet Peas Up-to-Date. William's writings were used as promo material for Burpee, and customers positively received them. Incredibly, Burpee distributed fifty thousand copies of "All About Sweet Peas."
In August of 1898, The Star-Gazette out of Elmira New York reported on a talk that William had given about the history and culture of sweet pea.
“Mr. Hutchins said that the flower is a native of Sicily, and is widely cultivated there, but in late years it has come into popular favor in America, and is now raised in nearly every part of the country.
The speaker mentioned some of the rare varieties and told how they are obtained…
He also gave a most interesting description of the gardens of Mr. Eckford in England, whose cultivation [of] about seventy-five of ...the choicest sweet peas have been given to the flower lovers of the world.”
And, in 1950, Charles H. Curtis, the editor of the Gardeners' Chronicle, wrote,
“Fifty years ago, a parson from Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, stood on the platform in the Lecture Hall of the Crystal Palace. He was the Rev. W. T. Hutchins, an enthusiastic grower of Sweet Peas, who had a voice as sweet and persuasive as the fragrance of his subject. I can hear him now.”
One of my favorite articles featuring William was published in The Atlanta Constitution on March 31, 1991. The title of the article was "Oh, Sweet Peas, Please Climb Above My knees" and was written by Laura Martin.
Laura dug up this quote by William, who said that the sweet pea has "a fragrance like the universal gospel."
And, regarding the sweet pea, Laura wrote,
“Finding a plant with outstanding beauty and fragrance is a treat. Many roses, of course, offer this combination, but easier and far less demanding are old-fashioned sweet peas, which will trail and climb in your garden while emitting a delicious scent. Common name: Sweet Pea . Botanical name: Lathyrus odoratus.”
The Greek word lathyros means pea or pulse, and the Latin word odoratus means fragrant.
Today, Japanese varieties have the most abundant blooms, and some Australian varieties are frilly. Sweet peas are a long-lasting vase flower, which makes them quite popular with florists and brides.
Finally, in terms of floriography, or the language of flowers, sweet peas convey bliss and pleasure. They also mean saying goodbye after having a good time. Nothing says thank you like sweet peas.
Finally, of the sweet pea, John Keats wrote:
Here are sweet peas, on tiptoe for a flight;
With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings.
July 27 is Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day - a silly, light-hearted day that brought to mind these nonsense poems.
One fine October morning
In September, last July
The sun lay thick upon the ground
The snow shone in the sky
The flowers were singing gaily
The birds were full in bloom
So I went down to the cellar
To clean the upstairs room
There should be no monotony
In studying your botany;
It helps to train
And spur the brain--
Unless you haven't gotany.
It teaches you, does Botany,
To know the plants and spotany,
And learn just why
They live or die--
In case you plant or potany.
You learn, from reading Botany,
Of wooly plants and cottony
That grow on earth,
And what they're worth,
And why some spots have notany.
You sketch the plants in Botany,
You learn to chart and plotany
Like corn or oats--
You jot down notes,
If you know how to jotany.
Your time, if you'll allotany,
Will teach you how and what any
Old plant or tree
Can do or be--
And that's the use of Botany!
— Berton Braley, American poet, Science Newsletter, March 9, 1929, Botany
Grow That Garden Library
Rustic Garden Projects by Marianne Svärd Häggvik
This book came out in February of 2019, and the subtitle is Step-by-Step Backyard Décor from Trellises to Tree Swings, Stone Steps to Stained Glass.
I tell you what; if you're bored and looking for something to do in the garden, this book is a charming gift to have on hand. It is loaded with ideas and gorgeous pieces of garden art. The projects will give you something to do and help you express yourself in the garden. Some are simple and quick, and others might take you a few days to complete.
- Willow baskets
- Conical votives
- Personalized walkways
- Raised flowerbeds
- Lion's head fountains
- And more!
The author Marianne is an engineer based in Stockholm. She had been puttering around in her garden for ages before Marianne and her husband decided to compile a book of their beautiful and fun garden projects.Marianne is the owner of Heliconia Garden, a garden design company in Sweden.
This book is 256 pages of ideas and projects - all shared with today's gardener in mind.
You can get a copy of Rustic Garden Projects by Marianne Svärd Häggvik and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $5.
Today's Botanic Spark
1949 Today is the birthday of the founder of the Greening of Harlem Coalition, Bernadette Cozart.
Bernadette was a professional gardener and urban gardening advocate.
She founded the Greening of Harlem Coalition in 1989. Her efforts transformed Harlem, bringing flower gardens and green spaces to areas previously covered by concrete and neglect.
It was Bernadette Cozart who said,
“Instead of taking children on field trips to see farms and gardens, why not bring nature into the community? I don't think it's fair that they should have to go outside the community to have that experience of seeing things grow.”
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