Today we celebrate an early Swedish explorer of Niagara Falls.
We'll also learn about a plant that Thomas Jefferson loved.
We salute the Russian botanist who arranged plants by geography.
We also recognize the Czech, who became the most famous collector of orchids in the world.
And, we'll remember the lives of a British plant hunter and a German chemist.
I've got a wonderful poem about August for you today.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about canning - the author says you'll be able to make your mamma jealous with your canning skills after getting her book.
And then we'll wrap things up with a mystery about a plant collected by the botanist Albert Ruth.
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.
"Have you ever thought about birdscaping your garden?
Birdscaping in this case doesn’t mean putting out a lot of feeders with different types of seed. It means planting the types of plants that will attract birds to your garden.
A good way to get started is by planting berry-producing plants — and now is the perfect time of year to do that.
Here are 10 easy-to-grow berry-producing shrubs, vines and trees that produce berries that birds will love. Most of these plants should grow well throughout the United States, according to Bill Thompson III of Bird Watcher's Digest in Marietta, Ohio.
As a bonus to help you get started with birdscaping, we’ve also included two popular fruit trees that birds love."
Boy, nasturtiums are such wonderful plants, aren't they?
August is a time when your nasturtiums look fabulous, even after a summer of blooming their hearts out. Right about now, your nasturtiums will bloom better if you remove a few of the center leaves. Opening up the plant a little bit will promote airflow - and allow the sun to shine on the base of the plant.
Nasturtiums are 100% edible.
You can add the petals to any salad - just as you would watercress.
In fact, you can make a beautiful sandwich with nasturtium flowers and a little salad dressing.
Jane Eddington shared this idea in the Daily News out of New York in 1928.
“If you have never tried a nasturtium leaf spread with a thin mayonnaise between two thin slices of bread and butter, you do not know how pleasant a little bite – in two senses – you can get from this Indian-Cress filling."
And before I forget, I found this wonderful article on nasturtiums that was featured in the Hartford Current out of Hartford, Connecticut, in August of 1914.
It had all of these wonderful recipes for nasturtiums.
It not only gave some good advice about nasturtium capers and nasturtium sandwiches, but also, a nasturtium sauce for fish, meat, and vegetables, a nasturtium vinegar, and a nasturtium potato salad. I'll have all of that in today's show notes -if you're geeking out on nasturtiums.
And, here is a little insight into how nasturtiums like to coexist with us: the more we cut nasturtiums - to bring in as cut flowers, or to eat them raw, or as capers - the more they are they will bloom. Regular cuttings seem to encourage more lateral development, and therefore you get more flowers.
If you protect your plants with burlap or sheets on cold fall evenings, your nasturtiums just might surprise you and bloom well into November.
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.
1750 The botanist Peter Kalm visited Niagara Falls.
Niagara was a natural attraction for botanists like Peter who studied under Carl Linnaeus. (It was actually Linnaeus who came up with the idea to send trained botanists to Niagara.)
There are no records of the plants that Peter collected on this day all those years ago. However, botanists suspect that Kalm's Lobelia and Kalm's Saint John's Wort were both collected there; and that's how they were both named for him by Carl Linnaeus.
1805 Today Meriwether Lewis discovered the Snowberry or Symphoricarpos albus.
I love the story of how Lewis came across the Snowberry.
Meriwether was really looking for the Shoshone Indians, but he found the Snowberry instead.
Meriwether wrote in his journal that he discovered something like a small honeysuckle, except that it was bearing a berry,
“... as large as a garden pea and as white as wax."
The plant was a truly new discovery to the scientific community.
And, Meriwether showed his botany chops when he said he thought it resembled the honeysuckle because it actually IS a member of the honeysuckle family. The Latin name for Snowberry is from the Greek meaning "fruits joined together," because the berries are clustered in pairs.
Sadly, Snowberries aren't good eating; they're pretty tasteless. But, the birds - especially grouse - love it.
As for Meriwether, botanists suspect that he probably took a specimen of the Snowberry in his pack because some of the seeds made their way to Philadelphia to Thomas Jefferson's favorite nurseryman: Bernard McMahon.
Once the Snowberry was in his hands, McMahon did what he always did; cultivate the plant and take cuttings. After McMahon grew the Snowberry, he sent cuttings to Thomas Jefferson. By October of 1812, Jefferson wrote back to report that the Snowberries were thriving in his garden. He gushed that they were some of the most beautiful berries he had ever seen - a hearty endorsement for the Snowberry.
1815 Today is the birthday of the Russian botanist Edward August Von Regal.
Edward was born in Switzerland - but he lived most of his life in Russia.
Edward worked in a number of botanical gardens, including gardens in Germany and Switzerland.
In 1852, Edward founded a magazine called Garten Flora, where he described new plant species.
Three years later, in 1855, Edward moved to St. Petersburg, where he oversaw the imperial botanical garden. Edward was a very hands-on botanist. When he went to St. Petersburg, he immediately addressed the setup and the level of excellence. He changed how all the plants were arranged and rebuilt the greenhouses (most of which were heated by hot water). Edward loved to arrange plants in groups based on geography. For instance, he would have an area for plants of St. Petersburg, and an area for the plants of Siberia, and an area for the plants of North America, and so on.
While in St. Petersburg, Edward also started a Russian gardening society, as well as several botanical journals.
And if you're a fan of Curtis's botanical magazine, which was started by William Curtis (who was employed at Kew), you'll appreciate knowing that volume 111 is dedicated to Edward August van Regal.
1823 Today is the birthday of Benedict Roezl, who was born on this day in Czechoslovakia.
Benedict was probably the most famous collector of orchids during his lifetime.
Benedict had an interesting life. As a gardener, he traveled all over Europe. He was also the founder of a Czech botanical magazine called Flora.
Eventually, Benedict made his way to the United States. He was making his way south to Mexico, so after first landing in New York, he went to Denver. There, he collected the Yucca Angustifolia.
Benedict indeed ended up in Mexico. For a time, he owned a restaurant. But he was also trying to make a go of a business growing a nettle called the Boehmeria nivea, which produces a fiber that can be harvested.
Now Benedict was a tinkerer and he had built a machine to extract the fiber from the Boehmeria. One time, Benedict brought his invention to an exhibition. At one point, someone asked if Benedict's machine would be able to extract fiber from an agave. When Benedict attempted to try it, his hand got entangled in the machine and was crushed. The accident changed his life, and he began collecting plants full-time.
Benedict used an iron hook in place of his amputated hand; it made him popular among the locals who brought the plants to him.
Benedict started collecting for a man named Frederick Sander, who was known as the king of orchids. But it was Benedict behind the scenes that made it all happen. Although, as a collector, he was a bit of a mess. Still, Benedict collected over 800 orchids from Mexico and South America, along with thousands of other plants like agaves and cacti. In Columbia, he discovered the Zambia Roezlii, the tallest and oldest orchid of all. Benedict collected for Sander for 40 years.
Even though Benedict was 6'2" tall, and had that imposing iron hook for a hand, during his collecting days, Benedict was robbed 17 times and, once, even attacked by a jaguar.
At the end of his life, Benedict returned to Czechoslovakia. His country welcomed him home with open arms, and he was honored by the Russian Czar. After he died at home in his bed, Benedict's funeral was attended by the Austrian emperor.
Today, there is a statue of Roezl in Prague. If you happen to go, It's located on the southern end of Charles Square.
1870 Today is the anniversary of the death of the nurseryman and botanist John Gould Veitch.
The Veitch Nursery dynasty was a force in the British nursery trade. Their dominance was born out of the idea to hire their own plant hunters to collect exclusively for them. John Gould Veitch became a plant hunter himself. He's remembered for collecting in Japan and in Australia where he once complained that the seeds of many plants,
“were so tiny he did not know if he was collecting seed or dust.“
John Gould Veitch's life was cut short by tuberculosis. He died when he was just 31 years old.
1872 Today is the birthday of the German chemist and botanist Richard Willstätter.
We sure could use Richard's expertise today…
Richard was trained as an organic chemist, and early in his career, he focused on plants. Richard was one of the first scientists to study plant pigment, and his work with chlorophyll earned him the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1915.
That very same year, 1915, a friend and fellow scientist by the name of Fritz Haber asked Richard to help him formulate poisonous gas to use as a weapon in World War 1. Richard's conscience wouldn't allow him to use his talents in that way. However, he did help to lead an effort to devise a filter that could protect soldiers from enemy gases. Richard's 3-layer filter was mass-produced - 30 million were made by 1917 - and Richard was awarded the Iron Cross for his work.
By September of 1938, Richard, who was Jewish, tried to remain in his home in Munich. That month, Richard was forced to surrender his passport.
On November 10th, a co-worker and fellow professor at the Chemistry Institute named Margarete Rohdewalde called Richard to warn him that the SS were on their way to his home with the intent of taking him to Dachau. When the SS arrived, his housekeeper, Elise, recalled that they searched his home "from top to bottom," looking in all of the closets and under all of the beds, but they could not find him.
It turns out, Richard had avoided their capture by being in the south side of his garden where Richard wrote that "the last roses were just freezing." Over the next three days, Richard sat at his desk and waited for them to return. But they did not come for him.
Although he could have found a university job in the United States, Richard felt drawn to Switzerland. In March of 1939, he managed to leave Germany legally. Elise followed him and took care of him as he battled the strain of leaving his books, his home, and his country.
Shortly after leaving Germany, Richard's heart began to fail. His memoir shares that he died in Switzerland on the afternoon of August 3rd, 1942. And, Elise noted that he passed while a violent thunderstorm raged outside.
Here is a poem about August
For which there is no possible rhyme other than sawdust.
Now, the task of justifying that word is going to be immense
If I want to make sense,
But anyway, here goes:
I once had a doll called Rose
Whose body was encased in a species of strong white cotton.
Well, I have not forgotten
How curious I was to see what was within
The cotton skin.
And so I made, with surgical precision,
A long incision.
Poor Rosie bled and bled and bled.
She bled not blood, but sawdust,
And then went limp.
Well, so do I, in August.
Get the connection?
Now, for those to whom August means a similar disaffection
I have news today:
Relief is on the way
For, and I say this without fear of starting an angry dialogue,
September will follow Aug.
It means that those kids who screamed "help, help" at the river all summer will go back to school
And I can keep my cool,
Instead of leaping up in fright.
It means the lawn will stop being so assiduous about growing,
Every second day.
It means I can give up wondering whether
To try for a tan, or will the sun merely turn me to leather?
It means the rabbits can finish off what they've left of my garden for all I'll care.
Allowing my temper to simmer down from way up there.
For all of which thank God,
Although, of course, there'll be the goldenrod;
Frankly, I think it's pretty
But visitors from the city
To such a view object.
Pointing out how it makes their eyes and noses runny and wet.
"Why don 't you get rid of the stuff?" they ask,
As though exterminating goldenrod were some sort of easy task.
Tsk! By the time you've yanked out one you turn around
To find its sisters, aunts, and cousins springing blithely from the ground.
What goldenrod knows about family planning you could put in a gnat's eye,
Some farms grow wheat or corn or hops
But goldenrod's my bumper crop,
A fact allergic friends remember
And so I can be lonely in September.
— Maggie Grant, Ottawa Newspaper Columnist, August
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2016, and the subtitle is Modern Canned Goods and What to Make with Them.
Rebecca's book offers both savory and sweet recipes for canned goods. Her book teaches not only how to can but also how to elevate your food flavors. Her recipes feature unique flavor combinations - including jams and jellies, pickles and relishes, and drunken fruit—just a heads up that some recipes call for pressure canning, but not all.
As Rebecca says - with her book, you can,
“Make your mama proud. But don't tell her your canning is better than hers!”
Rebecca is the founder of the blog Foodie with Family. She worked as both a full-time cook and a food columnist. She lives in Belfast, NY.
This book is 224 pages of expert modern-day canning advice.
Today's Botanic Spark
1892 The botanist Albert Ruth collected a plant in Sevier County that he thought was Partridge Berry.
Over 40 years later, in 1934, Ruth's specimen of Partridge Berry ended up at the University of Tennessee under unusual circumstances.
In 1934, the University of Tennessee's herbarium had been destroyed in a fire - which was especially sad since the herbarium was quite excellent and contained over 30,000 specimens.
To rectify the matter, the botanist and university professor, AJ Sharp, put out a call for new specimens from botanists all over the globe. His effort met with success.
And, that's how Albert Ruth's Partridge Berry made its way to AJ Sharp.
Now, When Dr. Sharp saw Ruth's specimen, he immediately recognized that it was NOT a Partridge Berry. Instead, what Sharp was looking at, was the twinflower, the flower named for Carl Linnaeus, the Linnea Borealis – an extremely delicate plant.
Although the twinflower is found in Greenland and Alaska and Scandinavia, it has never been known to grow in the Smoky Mountains. To this day, no one has ever found the spot where Albert Ruth found his twinflower.
To date, there have been two attempts to locate Ruth's twinflower led by Dr. Peter White out of the University of North Carolina. But Peter rightly cautions anyone attempting to search for the twinflower in the Smokies. Peter says there are two things you need to have in order to botanize in the Great Smoky Mountains,
"Excellent rock climbing experience and a great life insurance policy."
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