July 29, 2020 Why Front Gardens Matter, Thomas Nuttal, Edith Coleman, Vincent Van Gogh, Beatrix Potter, Ryan Gainey, Tomato Poetry, Shrubs & Hedges by Eva Monheim and Charles Clemon Deam’s Beef with Honeysuckle

Show Notes

Today we remember the botanist who jumped in a birch bark canoe with Aaron Greeley and paddled to Mackinac Island 110 years ago today.

We'll also learn about the woman who was a housewife until the age of 48 and then transformed into one of Australia's leading naturalists.

We celebrate the artist who died today among his canvases of sunflowers.

We also hear the letter Beatrix Potter wrote about her garden on this day in 1924.

We honor the life of a marvelous landscape designer who died in a fire on this day already four years ago. He once said, "I've had a wild life."

Today we hear some fun poems about tomatoes.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about shrub and hedge plants - an excellent resource for gardeners looking to define borders and add practical, healthy, and low-maintenance beauty to their property.

And then we'll wrap things up with a botanist who shared his disdain for honeysuckle.

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

Why Front Gardens Matter | The Guardian | Clare Coulson 

Here's an excerpt:

“Last month… Charlotte Harris, one half of the landscape design duo Harris Bugg, decided to dig up her paved front garden in east London. “It was a discussion we’d been having for a while,” says Harris, who gardens with her girlfriend Catriona Knox. “Around here every bit of green space feels precious,” she says. “Obviously there are parks, but I think each of us has to take responsibility for any space we have.”

In an area where 50% of the front gardens have no plants, the ones that do provide moments of joy. Harris’s neighbors include a couple who boast “the most beautiful magnolia” in their shady spot, ... another front garden [is] an abundant [vegetable] patch complete with frames and climbing squash. “They were the inspiration, really,” adds Harris. “It’s a gift isn’t it? It’s the ultimate in gardening altruism, because your back garden is for you to enjoy, but your front garden is about improving everyone’s experience.”

Over the past couple of months, the front garden has gained a powerful new significance… [a] point of contact… with friends or family delivering supplies, or catching up with a neighbour you’d hardly spoken to before.


Iris Chores Before Fall

When your irises finish blooming, cut off the dead flower stalks; but not leaves. Irises use their swords, the green leaves, to nourish rhizomes for the following year.

Since they are semi-dormant, you can divide them now if necessary. Replant them as soon as possible and remember to cut off about two-thirds of the foliage to compensate for root loss. Simply cut the leaves in a fan shape and enjoy more iris next year.


How to Create a Peter Rabbit Garden

Of course, Peter Rabbit is the creation of Beatrix Potter, who was a noted botanist and mycologist. (A mycologist studies fungi).

Now to make your Peter Rabbit Garden, we will draw inspiration from Beatrix's Potter's garden was located at Hill Top Farm.

In making your Peter Rabbit garden, you could add a little wooden fence or a low stone wall around the perimeter.

Inside, use the herbs and perennials featured in the books:

Herbs include Mint, Chamomile, Lavender, Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, and Tansy.

Edibles include Lettuce, Beets, Radish, Rhubarb, Onions, and Strawberry.

Then add Pansies, Roses, and Pinks.


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

1810   On this day, a 24-year-old botanist named Thomas Nuttal, jumped in a birch bark canoe with Aaron Greeley, the deputy surveyor of the territory of Michigan, and they paddled to Mackinac Island arriving two weeks later on August 12.

Thomas spent several days on Mackinac - He was the first real botanist to explore the flora of Michigan, and indeed, of Mackinac Island. Thomas immediately set about collecting and writing detailed accounts of the flora he discovered. He documented about sixty species - about twenty were previously unknown. One of the new Mackinac discoveries was the dwarf lake iris (Iris lucustris), which became the state wildflower of Michigan.


1874   Today is the birthday of the Australian naturalist and prolific writer Edith Coleman.

Until recently, little was known about Edith. The author, Danielle Claude, wrote a book about Edith called The Wasp and the Orchid, which explored how Edith went from being a housewife until the age of 48 and then transformed into one of Australia's leading naturalists.

Edith had a special appreciation for orchids. Beginning in January 1927, one of her daughters told her that she had seen a wasp entering the flower of the small tongue orchid backward. The odd behavior was something both Edith and her daughter would repeatedly see over the next few seasons. The response was perplexing, especially after Edith dissected the plants and discovered that they were male. Edith continued to study their behavior, and she finally found that the wasp was fertilizing the orchid. The orchid uses this stealth pollination strategy Called pseudo-copulation to trick the male wasps into thinking they are meeting with a female wasp. By getting the males to enter the plant, the plant can be pollinated.

Edith became the first woman to be awarded the Australian natural history medallion. Edith will forever be remembered for her groundbreaking discovery about orchid pollination.


1890   Today is the anniversary of the death of the artist Vincent Van Gogh.

After shooting himself in the stomach, Vincent managed to get back to his home and live for two additional days before dying beside a stack of his sunflower canvases.

In March of 1987, his painting titled Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers was sold by Sotheby's in London for $39.85 million, more than three times the highest price ever paid at the time for a painting at auction.


1924   Beatrix Potter writes to a little girl named Dulcie and describes her garden.

She writes that her garden has:

“... a box hedge around the flower bed, and moss roses and pansies and black currants and strawberries and peas —and big sage bushes for Jemima, but the onions always do badly.

I have tall white bell flowers I am fond of — they are just going over, next there will be Phlox; and last come to the Michaelmas Daisies and Chrysanthemums. Then soon after Christmas, we have Snowdrops. They grow wild and come up all over the garden and orchard, and some in the woods.”


2016   It's the anniversary of the death of the landscape designer extraordinaire, Ryan Gainey.

Ryan died trying to save his two beloved Jack Russell terrier's, Jellybean Leo and Baby Ruth, from a fire at his home. Neither he nor his dogs survived.

When it came to landscape design, Ryan was entirely self-taught.

In the beautiful documentary about his life called "The Well-Placed Weed: The Bountiful Life of Ryan Gainey." (btw I shared it in the FB group so check it out)

In the documentary, Ryan asked the filmmaker, "I've had a wild life. Do you know why?"

His reply was simple and 100% Gainey: "I created it."

Ryan purchased a home in Decatur Georgia that used to be the site of Holcomb Nursery. He removed many of the greenhouses behind his home but kept the low brick walls that had served as the foundation for the greenhouses. The result was that Ryan instantly had a series of garden rooms that he could decorate and design to his heart's content. Throughout his career, Ryan became friends with notable designers and gardeners like Rosemary Verey ("VEER-ee") and Penelope Hobhouse.

Ryan loved Verey; they had a special bond. He loved the Camellia japonica. Ryan's gardens looked effortless with things spilling over and nestled in a way that made them look like they had been in the garden for decades. It was Ryan who said,

"Where lies the genius of man? It is the ability to control nature... but for one purpose only; and that is to create beauty."

One hundred forty-eight days before Ryan passed away, an enormous white oak fell over and crushed his house. Ryan considered the tree to be the soul of his life.


Unearthed Words

The street
filled with tomatoes
light is
its juice
through the streets.
In December,
the tomato
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
into living flesh,
a cool
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
its flag,
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
at the door,
it's time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
and fertile
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.
— Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet & Nobel Prize winner, Ode to Tomatoes
(translated by Margaret Sayers Peden)


She took the purity pledge (Sweet Baby Girl,
Super Snow White, Artic Rose)
fled the grasp of Big Beef and Better Boy
on a Southern Night and, baptized
in hydroponics, gleamed waxy
and vapid under a fluorescent gaze.

She was a good girl (Beauty Queen, Gum Drop,
Mighty Sweet, Sugar Plum, Pink Champagne),

a tidbit on the tip (Flaming Burst, Solar Flare,
Razzle Dazzle, Roman Candle)
of his tongue (Lucky Tiger, Top Gun,
Tough Boy, Sun King).

She was Plum, Pear, Grape, and Cherry,
because one thing is always like another—
like a wad of chewed-up gum, tasteless
and shriveled on the marriage vine
and gave it away too soon.

She was a Jezebel (Shady Lady,
Spitfire, Perfect Flame),

hot to the touch, steeped in dark earth,
sun-soaked, bright tang bursting
in the throat. A little dirt
on the tongue never hurt anyone.
— Janice Northerns, poet, Good Tomato

Janice was inspired to write "Good Tomato" after reflecting on the fact that "Tomato" was a popular slang term for a woman between the 1930s and the 1950s. The poem came together after she incorporated the many fascinating gendered names of tomato varieties like Beauty Queen, Sugar Plum, Better Boy. Note: Italicized terms are all names of tomato varieties.


Grow That Garden Library

Shrubs & Hedges by Eva Monheim

This book came out in March of this year and the subtitle is  Discover, Grow, and Care for the World's Most Popular Plants.

Washington Gardener said this book is, "...clear enough for beginners, detailed enough for pros."

Ruth Rogers Clausen wrote that,

"Shrubs and hedges are often taken for granted by professional horticulturists and garden owners alike. However, this invaluable book celebrates them, with readable and fascinating details about a range of species suitable for individual locations. The author’s passion and experience shine through the text. Detailed information is included for each cultivar, hybrid, and/or selection, its suitability for specific sites, sound growing and pruning tips, and its place in ecological landscapes, along with tool care, reference material, and more. Undoubtedly Shrubs & Hedges will become a significant reference book for years to come."

Eva Monheim is co-founder of Verdant Earth Educators (VEE) - a horticulture education and consulting firm. She's an instructor at the world-famous Longwood Gardens in their Professional Horticulture Program where she teaches woody plants and arboriculture. Eva is also a faculty member at The Barnes Arboretum of St. Joseph University where she teaches Landscape Management.

This book is 224 pages shrub and hedge plants - a great resource for gardeners looking to define borders and add practical, healthy, and low-maintenance beauty to their property.

You can get a copy of Shrubs & Hedges by Eva Monheim and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $23.


Today's Botanic Spark

1951  On this day the botanist Charles Clemon Deam replied to an inquiry about the honeysuckle.

Charles wrote:

"That [plant's] name is to me the same as a red flag to a bull. I cannot tell you in words how I regard this vine.
Your question is: Does it propagate from seed?
I do not believe it does.
I have never heard a good word for it. All that I can say affirmatively is that it is no good for anything."

And, before Charles finished writing his censure of the honeysuckle, he twice suggested that some new "insecticides" might kill it.

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