Today we celebrate an English poet who didn't want gardens to be monetized.
We'll also learn about the 8th generation seedsman of a beloved Boston company.
We remember the naturalist who followed the seasons up and down the country.
We also recognize the exuberant botanist, who created the Dot Map.
We welcome the new month with some poems about "the Queen of the Ripe Season" - August.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that was created by one of the world's best garden photographers. It's a beauty.
And then we'll wrap things up with a little Q&A about the origin of Plant Names.
But first, let's catch up on some Greetings from Gardeners around the world and today's curated news.
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.
Here's an excerpt::
“On the beautiful islands of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean grows a legendary palm. Lodoicea maldivica (“LOW-DOE-ah-SEE-ah MAHL-div-eh-cah”) , also known as the double coconut, or coco-de-mer, is renowned for producing the largest and heaviest seeds in the world.
With their rather suggestive shape and weighing up to an impressive 25kg, (about 55 pounds!) while measuring up to half a metre long, these spectacular seeds are attractive to scientists, tourists and poachers alike.
Legend has it that the double coconut possesses medicinal properties [and] single nuts currently sell for £500-£2,000.
Sadly, due to overharvesting, there are now only around 8,000 wild mature Lodoicea palms on just two islands.
To protect them from going extinct, seeds in the wild and in botanical gardens worldwide that have manged to grow them, are carefully guarded, sometimes even placed in cages, to prevent poaching.”
August really begins to set the stage for fall and fall-like weather.
But, remember, the most significant change that is affecting your plants right now is the reduction in daylight. We are not as sensitive to it, but believe me, our plants notice even the most subtle changes in the amount of daylight.
All through August, the length of daylight starts to rapidly decline as the calendar approaches the autumnal equinox, with 12 hours of day and night, approaches in September. In the northern half of the United States, we lose 2 to 3 minutes of daylight every single day in August.
For example, today, in NYC, the sun will set at 8:11 pm. But, already by the end of the month, the sun will set around 7:30 pm.
And, in Seattle tonight, the sun sets at around 8:45 pm. By the end of the month, it will set almost a full hour earlier.
The last full month of summer brings many changes in the weather.
Hurricanes begin to get active later in August. In a typical year, August brings triple the number of named storms compared to July. If you look at the number of storms during the summer, August's total would be greater than June and July combined.
The Rockies and Alaska usually get their first snows in August.
August brings average cooler temperatures, and the length of daylight decreases. Although you may not be noticing the decrease in light, your houseplants are certainly making adjustments - especially African Violets (Saintpaulia species), Christmas Cactus, and Cyclamens.
Are you growing, Gladiola?
The plants are also sometimes called the Sword Lily.
Gladiola is Latin for a small sword.
In Victorian times, the Gladiola meant, "You pierce my heart."
And the next time you see a Gladiola, take a closer look: Members of this family produce parts in multiples of three. There are three sepals, colored to look like petals, and three true petals, and three stamens.
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.
1743 Today is the anniversary of the death of the English poet Richard Savage.
Richard once wrote about a practice among the wealthy, allowing their servants to show their gardens in exchange for money. Even the Queen let her Richmond garden and cave to be viewed for a sum. It was a practice that distressed Richard.
But what the flowering pride of gardens rare,
However royal, or however fair,
If gates, which to access should still give way,
Open but, like Peter's paradise, for pay?
If perquisited varlets frequent stand,
And each new walk must a new tax demand?
What foreign eye but with contempt surveys?
What Muse shall from oblivion snatch their praise?
Richard wisely withheld these lines from publication while the Queen was alive. But after her death, he published his work in its entirety.
1900 Today is the anniversary of the death of the seedsman Charles Henry Bass Breck.
Charles was the 8th generation heir to Joseph Breck & Sons, a wholesaler, and retail company located in Boston, Massachusetts. Breck & Sons specialized in seed, flowers, and agricultural tools and was founded by Joseph Breck - who was a descendant of one of the first puritan families in the country.
Charles' father, Joseph, amassed a botanical publishing empire after he acquired the New England Farmer, and later Horticultural Register and Gardens magazine. For decades, the Breck's catalog, which featured many plant engravings, served as the primary educational reference for east coast farmers.
Charles served as vice-president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for over twenty years until his death on this day in 1900. And here's a little-known fact about Charles - he was an accomplished flutist, and he was a generous patron of the arts in Boston.
Forty years after Charles died, Breck & Sons had two locations at 85 State Street and 85 Franklyn Street in Boston. One of their most famous customers was Beatrix Farrand. Beatrix Farrand bought seed and roses from the Brecks for her estate Dumbarton Oaks Gardens in Washington, D.C.
1923 The botanist Edwin Way Teale married Nelly Imogene Donovan.
Edwin and Nelly met in college. After they married, they moved to New York so that Edwin could continue his education at Columbia University.
Edwin's first job was writing for the magazine Popular Science.
On the side, Edwin began taking pictures and specializing in nature photography. When Edwin was 42, he left Popular Science and became a freelancer. By 1943, his book By-ways to Adventure: A Guide to Nature Hobbies won the John Burroughs Medal for distinguished natural history writing.
During World War II, the Teale's son, David, was killed in Germany. Edwin and Nelly began traveling across the country by automobile, and the trips help them cope with their grief.
The trips became not only a catharsis but also an integral part of Edwin's writing. Their 1947 journey, covering 17,000 miles in a black Buick, following the advance of spring, led to Edwin's book north with the spring.
Additional road trips lead to more books: Journey Into Summer, Autumn Across America, and Wandering Through Winter. Wandering Through Winter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966.
And, it was Edward Way Teale who said:
For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.
Any fine morning, a power saw can fell a tree that took a thousand years to grow.
Nature is shy and noncommittal in a crowd. To learn her secrets, visit her alone or with a single friend, at most. Everything evades you, everything hides, even your thoughts escape you, when you walk in a crowd.
Our minds, as well as our bodies, need the out-of-doors. Our spirits, too, need simple things, elemental things, the sun and the wind and the rain, moonlight, and starlight, sunrise and mist and mossy forest trails, the perfumes of dawn and the smell of fresh-turned earth and the ancient music of wind among the trees.
1927 Today is the birthday of the botanist Franklyn Hugh Perring who is born in London on this day.
Franklyn was the best kind of botanist, possessing the eagerness of an amateur and the training of a true professional. He also had an outstanding field botanist with a phenomenal memory for plants. At heart, he was a conservationist.
In 1962, Franklyn, along with Max Walters, wrote The Atlas of the British Flora, which some called the most important natural history book of the 20th century.
After getting his Ph.D. at Cambridge, Max Walters, the director of the University herbarium, invited Franklyn to map the distribution of all the wildflowers trees and ferns of England and Ireland. The year was 1954, and it was a very ambitious and groundbreaking project; Franklyn said, "yes." And, that's how Franklyn Perring was the first person to create a Dot Map.
Thanks to the help of countless citizen scientists, Max and Franklyn successfully mapped all of Britain's plants in under five years - and that fact is even more impressive after learning the entire country was divided into 10 km squares. Frank once wrote,
"The amateur naturalist or the professional can make a significant contribution to biological knowledge by volunteering to collect data in the field."
When Franklyn finished his project, he went on to help David Webb map the plants of Ireland. And he also encouraged fellow scientists, to make similar atlases of distribution; for example, zoologists could map the distribution of mammals, butterflies, and other life forms.
Franklyn adored leading groups of people on field trips by any means available - bicycle, train, or on foot. He was excellent with volunteers and little details - like dots - but he wasn't considered to be a sharp strategist.
In an unpublished 1965 Biographical Sketch, Frank said,
"[I] Rarely if ever relax [and I] read perhaps two novels a year – at Christmas and during the summer holiday – nearly always spent abroad ... [My] favourite reading is Jane Austen and Dickens: take one of the latter on each long journey. I remember reading Pickwick in the Pickwick Hotel, San Francisco. [I'm also] very fond of music, especially Mozart and Britten. Britten's Spring Symphony and Elgar's Introduction and Allegro and Violin Concerto spell out for me the Englishness of England which I want to see preserved."
And here's a charming little snippet about Franklyn's personality that was captured in a recent twitter exchange.
On September 14th, 2018 the fanatical botanist Mick Crawley posted that he was,
"Botanizing from the train. Some species are so distinctive that you can identify them with confidence, even at high speed. The triffid-like climber that scrambles over so many rail-side fences, covered with masses of tiny white flowers, is Fallopia baldschuanica ("Fa-LOW-PEE-ah Bald-shoe-AYE-nick-ah:)." (aka The Silver Lace Vine)
Mick's tweet drew the attention of the Chief Exec of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Stephen Trotter, who replied,
"Reminds me of the late Franklyn Perring who when botanising from a car defined species as being 30mph, 50mph or 70mph plants!"
To which, I replied, "Ha! Love this insight - Plant ID at high speeds. What a concept!"
Thank you, Franklyn Perring, for the new botanical sport! And, it's something we can actually safely do during the pandemic.
August 1st is Lammas Day ("La-MA-ss"). Lammas was a festival that celebrated the annual wheat and corn harvest. After Lammas Day, corn ripens as much by night as by day.
And, Lammas is a cross-quarter day - a day between an equinox (when the sun sets due west) and a solstice. In this case, Lammas is the mid-point between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox.
Here are some poems to welcome August.
Fairest of the months!
Ripe summer's Queen
The hey-day of the year
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen
Sweet August doth appear.
— R. Combe Miller, English poet and clergyman, Fairest of the Months
The brilliant poppy flaunts her head
Amidst the ripening grain,
And adds her voice to sell the song
That August's here again.
― Helen Winslow, American editor and journalist
Buttercup nodded and said good-bye,
Clover and Daisy went off together,
But the fragrant Waterlilies lie
Yet moored in the golden August weather.
The swallows chatter about their flight,
The cricket chirps like a rare good fellow,
The asters twinkle in clusters bright,
While the corn grows ripe and the apples mellow.
— Celia Laighton Thaxter, American writer and poet, August
Note: The poet Celia Laighton Thaxter grew up on Appledore Island. Celia's dad built a hotel on the island, and it became a hub for creatives and a muse for many. Along with creating a lovely cut flower garden, Celia wrote a book called An Island Garden.
Grow That Garden Library
In Bloom by Ngoc Minh Ngo ("Nah-OW-P min NO")
This book came out in 2016, and the subtitle is Creating and Living With Flowers.
"The first reason to buy the book is Ngoc Minh Ngo is one of the best garden photographers at work these days. She is as hypnotized as anybody by the heartbreaking simplicity of a dogwood blossom as its petals unfurl. But what sets her apart is her ability to convey with a camera how much that moment means to her."
"The photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo celebrates people who make beauty their life’s work with the gorgeous IN BLOOM: Creating and Living With Flowers (Rizzoli, $45). The textile and wallpaper designer Neisha Crosland covers the walls of her London house with chinoiserie-style flowers. The potter Frances Palmer imprints clay vessels with the vivid dahlias from her Connecticut garden. The horticulturalist Umberto Pasti celebrates Morocco’s rich floral history in tile and fabric. The painter Claire Basler rings rooms with floral murals in her French chateau, while in the Bronx, Livia Cetti cuts, dyes, crimps and folds paper into exquisite flower arrangements. Each place is wondrous; for those not lucky enough to have friends around to enhance life with such magic, Ngo’s enchanting photographs invite us in."
—New York Times Book Review
"Oh, the dahlias. Oh, the aged Moroccan tiles. Oh, the coppery-brown irises. In Bloom is about creative types whose work life revolves around flowers. For most of them, their lives, period, revolve around flowers. Certain flowers, all flowers, fresh flowers, dead flowers."
—Dallas Morning News
This book is 224 pages of floral inspiration from one of the best botanical photographers of our time.
Today's Botanic Spark
1950 The Ithaca Journal out of Ithaca New York published a question from a reader.
The reader wanted an answer to this question:
Please list a few plants that are named for people.
Here is the answer:
The poinsettia was named for Joel R. Poinsett, a famous statesman.
Wisteria is named in honor of Caspar Wistar, ("Wiss-Star") a distinguished physician, and scientist of Philadelphia.
Leonard Fuchs, a German botanist, discovered the plant known as fuchsia, while William Forsyth, a Scotch botanist, is responsible for the name of forsythia.
The name of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French soldier and explorer, is perpetuated in the bougainvillea.
The Paulownia is named for the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna, daughter of Czar Paul I.
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