July 28, 2020 The Garden and Mental Health, John Evelyn, Andrew Jackson Downing, Roger Tory Peterson, Women and the Garden, The Pollinator Victory Garden by Kim Eierman, and Bill Cullina’s 2011 garden

Show Notes

Today we celebrate the botanist and writer who published the first book about salad.

We'll also learn about the horticulturist whose life was cut short on this day when the steamship he was on caught on fire and sank.

We celebrate the man who helped generations of people fall in love with ornithology.

We also hear some garden poetry that features women.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about creating a Pollinator Victory Garden by having a garden that is healthy, diverse, and chemical-free.

And then we'll wrap things up with a glimpse into a Maine garden on this day in 2011.

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

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Curated News

Thriving With Nature | Mental Health Foundation

“There are lots of ways in which spending time in nature can be positive for our mental health and wellbeing. New and exciting research is happening all the time that adds to our understanding of how our natural environment affects the health of our bodies and minds. The reasons why time in nature has this effect on us are complex and still being understood. The benefits are often related to how our senses connect us to the environment around us, from the shapes in nature we see to the scents that trees give off and the soft fascination that nature can stimulate which helps our minds rest.”


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

1662   Today the English Gardner and writer John Evelyn recorded in his diary that he met with the dowager Queen Henrietta Maria.

John kept a detailed diary for 66 years, and he had a devoted passion for gardening. As a result, his diary has been a treasure for garden historians over the years.

And, here's a little known fact about John Evelyn: he was the first garden author to publish a book about salads (or sallets as they were spelled at the time).

Check out the benefits of eating salad as described by John:

"By reason of its soporiferous quality, lettuce ... still continues [to be] the principal foundation of … Sallets, which ... cool and refresh, [and have] beneficial influences on morals, temperance, and chastity."

(FYI: Soporiferous means Inducing or tending to induce sleep. Here John is referring to the fact that some lettuce secretes lactucarium - a milky fluid found in the base of the lettuce stems. It is known as lettuce opium because of its sedative and pain-relieving properties. It has also been reported to promote a mild sensation of euphoria.)

It was John Evelyn who wrote:

"The gardener’s work is never at an end, it begins with the year and continues to the next. He prepares the ground, and then he plants, and then he gathers the fruits."

"Gardening is a labor full of tranquility and satisfaction; natural and instructive, and as such contributes to the most serious contemplation, experience, health, and longevity."


And, keep in mind John's appreciation for the amount of work a garden requires as I tell you this little story about him.

In 1698, John Evelyn had owned his estate for 40 years. Everyone who knew it said it was magnificent - both inside and out. It was decorated to the nines. Of all that he owned, John's garden was his pride and joy.

That year, the Russian Czar, Peter the Great, brought an entourage of 200 people to England to visit William III. In a gesture of hospitality, William volunteered John Evelyn's home to host the Czar and his people during their visit. John and his wife graciously moved out to give the Czar his privacy.

Well, it wasn't long before John's servants began sending him urgent messages begging him to return.

When John came home, he walked into a nightmare. The whole estate had been trashed. Priceless paintings had served as dartboards. His floors were ruined, windows were smashed; even the garden was destroyed.

The servants told how the 6'8 Czar had played a game with his friends, where they put him in one of John's wheelbarrows and then raced him through the garden beds, crashing into walls, trees, and hedges. It was a complete disregard for the sanctity of John's garden. For twenty years, John had nursed along a hedge of holly that had turned into a glorious living wall. It was ruined. The party even managed to knock down part of the stone wall that surrounded the garden.

It must have been a scene akin to the movie Animal House.

John immediately sent word to the king about what had happened, and arrangements were made straight away to move the Czar to other lodgings. King William settled with John to have his property restored - his home needed to be gutted and rebuilt from the floors up.

John Evelyn was 78 years old when this happened to him. I'm sure there was no amount of restitution that could restore the years of love he had spent in his garden. He lived for another eight years before dying in 1706.


1815   Today is the anniversary of the tragic death of the horticulturist and writer Andrew Jackson Downing.

Andrew was the author of The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America, which came out in 1845. He also served as the editor of a magazine called The Horticulturist.

Regarded as one of the founders of American Landscape Architecture, Andrew used his work in The Horticulturist magazine as a platform for advancing his pet causes. It was Andrew who first came up with the idea for a New York park. In fact, Andrew's dream became the park we know today: Central Park. Andrew also advocated for individual states to create schools devoted to agriculture - and that hope became a reality as well.

In 1846, the National Mall in Washington, DC, was run down and neglected.  It fell to Andrew to devise plans to revive the space.

When the Frenchman Pierre Charles L'Enfant designed the mall in 1791, he envisioned a grand avenue. In sharp contrast, Andrew's vision simple. Not a fan of formal European gardens, Andrew wanted to create what he called a public museum of living trees and shrubs. Instead of a grand avenue, Andrew designed four separate parks that were connected by curving walkways and featured many different trees. Sadly, Andrew's plans were never fully funded or carried out.

In the summer of 1852, Andrew boarded a steamship called The Henry Clay. At some point, the steamship got into a race with another boat called The Armenia. When The Henry Clay began to overheat, a fire broke out in the engine room. Coincidentally, a former girlfriend of Andrew's also happened to be on board The Henry Clay that fateful day. As passengers escaped the flames to jump into the water, some began to drown. When Andrew jumped in the water to save his old flame, her panic caused them both to drown.

Now, before Andrew attempted to save his old paramour, he was one of the men who quickly threw some deck chairs off the boat. The thinking was that the chairs could be used as flotation devices. As fate would have it, Andrew's wife Carolyn survived the disaster by holding on to a deck chair. When the ordeal was all over, many friends tried to comfort Carolyn by insinuating that she was likely saved by one of the chairs Andrew had thrown into the water.  But this sentiment was small consolation to her, given that she lost her husband as he was busy trying to save an old love.

Andrew Jackson Downing was just 36 years old when he died on this day two hundred and five years ago.


1996  Today is the anniversary of the death of Roger Tory Peterson of Peterson's Field Guide to Birds fame - he was born in 1908.

A son of Jamestown, New York, Roger, helped new generations of people fall in love with ornithology. Roger not only wrote the guides, but he also illustrated them. He was the noted American naturalist who brought the natural world to the masses in the 20th century.

Roger admired the gumption of the common starling. He felt blue jays had "a lot of class," and he said the house sparrow was "an interesting darn bird."

Roger once famously described a purple finch as a "Sparrow dipped in raspberry juice (male)."

When it came to the Audobon Oriole, Roger quipped that its song was like "a boy learning to whistle."

What was Roger Tory Peterson's favorite bird? The King Penguin.

Here are some famous Peterson quotes:

"Few men have souls so dead that they will not bother to look up when they hear the barking of wild Geese."

"Birds have wings; they're free; they can fly where they want when they want. They have the kind of mobility many people envy."

"Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we'll soon be in trouble."

And finally, the book, The World of Roger Tory Peterson is worth a read if you can get hold of a copy.


Unearthed Words

Today's words feature Women and the Garden.

In January, for example, the housewife should be busy planting peas and beans and setting young rose roots.

During March and April she will work 'from morning to night, sowing and setting her garden or plot,' to

produce the crops of parsnip, beans, and melons which will 'winnest the heart of a laboring man for her later in the year.

Her strawberry plants will be obtained from the best roots which she has gathered from the woods, and these are to be set in a plot in the garden. Berries from these plants will be harvested later the same year, perhaps a useful back-up if the parsnips have failed to win the man of her dreams.

July will see the good wife 'cut off ...ripe bean with a knife as well as harvesting the hemp and flax, which it will be her responsibility to spin later in the year.
— Thomas Tusser, English poet and farmer, Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandry, 1573


You are a tulip seen today,
But (dearest) of so short a stay
That where you grew, scarce man can say.

You are a lovely July-flower,
Yet one rude wind, or milling shower.
Will force you hence, and in an hour.

You are a sparkling rose in the bud.
Yet lost ere that chaste flesh and blood
Can show where you grew or stood.

You are a full-spread fair-set vine.
And can with tendrils love entwine.
Yet dried, ere you distill your wine.

You are like balm enclosed well
In amber, or some crystal shell,
Yet lost ere you transfuse your smell.

You are a dainty violet.
Yet withered ere you can be set
Within the virgin's coronet.

You are the queen all flowers among.
But die you must, fair maid, ere long.
As he, the maker of this song.
— Robert Herrick, English poet and cleric, A Meditation for His Mistress


Grow That Garden Library

The Pollinator Victory Garden by Kim Eierman

This book came out in January of 2020, and the subtitle is Win the War on Pollinator Decline with Ecological Gardening; Attract and Support Bees, Beetles, Butterflies, Bats, and Other Pollinators.

Peter Nelson, Director of The Pollinators film, said of this book,

"The Pollinator Victory Garden is a book for these times.  Kim Eierman empowers readers with ideas, direction, and the inspiration they need to create beautiful and eco-friendly habitats for many different pollinators.  Creating healthy, diverse, and chemical-free habitats are essential steps in solving pollinator decline, and The Pollinator Victory Garden guides you towards creating your own lovely garden habitat."

Kim Eierman is an environmental horticulturist and landscape designer specializing in ecological landscapes and native plants. She is the Founder of EcoBeneficial, a horticulture consulting and communications company in Westchester County, New York. Kim also teaches at the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Native Plant Center, Rutgers Home Gardeners School, and advanced education classes for Master Gardeners.

This book is 160 pages of ideas and information to support pollinators and help the environment.

You can get a copy of The Pollinator Victory Garden by Kim Eierman and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $16.


Today's Botanic Spark

2011   In the popular gardener book The Roots of My Obsession, the former executive director of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Bill Cullina wrote:

“Yesterday it happened.

With everything finally planted, the weeds temporarily at bay, and the garden refreshed by rains after a long dry stretch, I reached that brief apogee in the arc of the season where I could sit on the bench and just appreciate.

It is that magic time of year between the rising cacophony of spring and the slow murmuring descent of autumn when there is stillness in my soul.

Right now, nothing needs doing.

It has been the most frenzied spring yet at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, where I work — a season stretching well into summer. We planted just over twenty-nine thousand plants and created four acres of new gardens. I have laid out so many plants this year that I started seeing them in my sleep — one pot after another plunked atop the freshly turned earth in endless triangles stretching off to infinity.”

In 2019, Bill Cullina was named the F. Otto Haas Executive Director of the University of Pennsylvania's Morris Arboretum. He started his new job a year ago on July 8, succeeding Paul W. Meyer, who served the Arboretum for 43 years, 28 years as executive director.  

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