August 15, 2020 Ground Cherries, Storm Damaged Garden, Karl von Schreibers, Elias Friesz, John Torrey, Walter Crane, Robert Bickelhaupt, National Relaxation Day, It’s the Little Things by Susanna Salk, and Arthur Tansley

Show Notes

Today we remember the man who helped to establish the Natural History Museum in Vienna.

We'll also learn about the Swedish botanist who specialized in mycology.

We salute the American botanist who wrote the Calendarian - a marvelous phenological record.

We also recognize a fanciful botanical illustrator who anthropomorphized flowers in his book.

We honor a husband and wife team who created a magnificent arboretum in the middle of the country.

We'll celebrate National Relaxation Day with a poem a feature most gardeners enjoy - a little running brook.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book It's the Little Things by Susanna Salk.

And then we'll wrap things up with the story of a man who created the term ecosystem, and his words still challenge us to see our gardens through a much bigger lens.

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

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Curated News

Connecticut Garden Journal: Ground Cherries | Connecticut Public Radio

Here's an excerpt:

“Some vegetables are just fun. We've been growing ground cherries for years. This tomato-family vegetable looks like a mini version of a tomatillo. It's a sprawling 2-foot tall plant that produces an abundance of green turning to brown papery husks. Inside the husk is the fun part. Small, cherry-sized fruits mature from green to golden. Unwrap the husk, harvest, and snack on the fruits. They taste like a cross between a tomato and pineapple. They are sweet and delicious and something kids really love."


Last week was one of Turmoil in my Garden.

We decided to put new windows and siding on the house.

Then we decided to enjoy the ravages of a hail storm which dumped ping pong ball sized hail on the garden for about five minutes - the entire storm lasted 30 minutes.

I always remind new gardeners that we never garden alone. We garden in partnership with Mother Nature, and in this partnership, Mother Nature still has her way. Sometimes we may feel like we win, but I kind of think it's like the first time you play Go Fish or some other game with your child, they just THINK they won.

In any case, I am using this as an opportunity to address some crowding in my garden beds. In some places, everything is just gone, and I suppose I could see it as an early start on fall cleanup.

The one thing I'm grateful for is the replacement of this large 14 x 20 'Arbor on the side of our house. I had started growing several rows of it over the years and then settled on golden hops when I was going through my hops phase.

Over the past few years, I've decided I'm not a fan of hops. The vines are aggressive and sticky, and the sap can be irritating to the skin. And I wasn't a massive fan of the color.

My student gardeners will help me cover the area with some landscape fabric to make sure it does not come back, and then I think climbing hydrangea would be lovely.


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

1775  Today is the birthday of the Austrian naturalist and botanist Karl Franz Anton Ritter von Schreibers.

Now, the Austrian Empire had a special affinity for plants and horticulture. And, they funded expeditions regularly to collect new materials for the Natural History Museum. Many famous botanists were involved with these expeditions, including Carl Phillip Von Martinus.

In 1806, Karl von Schreiber became the director of the Vienna Natural History Museum. And although he was an excellent botanist and ecologist, his heart belonged to minerals and meteorites. One of Karl's smartest moves was to make Leopold Trattinick the curator of the Museum's herbarium, which was founded in 1807.

For over forty years, Karl grew the Museum, but then things took a bad turn. In 1848, during the revolution in Vienna, the Natural History Museum caught on fire. Protesters not only destroyed the library Karl had carefully built up, but they also destroyed Karl's home since his living quarters were right inside the Museum. The destruction of the Museum was too much for Karl - it broke his heart. Karl immediately retired, and he died four years later.


1794  Today is the birthday of the botanist Elias Magnus Friesz, who is born on this day in Sweden.

Now, the area where Elias grew up in Sweden was rich in fungi, and as luck would have it, his father was a self-taught botanist. Put those two things together, and it's no wonder Elias developed a lifelong interest in mycology.

In fact, Elias developed the first system that was used to classify fungi, so we remember him for that.

If you Google Elias Friesz, you'll see there's a wonderful picture of him as an octogenarian. If you're a Harry Potter fan, Elias looks like he could've been Dumbledore's best friend.

Elias was a happy botanist, and he worked tirelessly until the day he died in February 1878.


1796  Today is the birthday of the American botanist John Torrey.

John was the first American botanist to study the flora of New York State.

And, the area John botanized included what is now Greenwich Village, the area of the Elgin Botanic Garden ("el-GG-IN"), which is now Rockefeller Center, and Bloomingdale, which is now the upper side west side of Manhattan - as well as Hoboken New Jersey.

One of the things we remember most about John is his Calendarian, which was a phenological record where he documented his plants; he recorded the species, location, and date of first bloom. It was kind of like a baby book for his plants.

Historically speaking, farmers often kept similar records to track planting seasons and growing cycles.

And Thomas Jefferson did the same thing as John in a book he called The Calendar.

The New York botanic garden has digitized this manuscript so you can check it out when you get a chance.

And, here's some fun John Torrey trivia: The mountain known as Torrey's Peak in Colorado is named for John Torrey.


1845  Today is the birthday of the illustrator Walter Crane, who was born in Liverpool.

Today, gardeners fondly recall Walter thanks to one of his most stunning works - a book called "A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden," which was published in 1899.

Walter's book was intended to be a children's book, but as I like to say, it became a beloved book by children of all ages. For gardeners, it is really something of a graphic novel telling the story of the secret life and society of flowers.

In Walter's world, the flowers are personified. For example, the Dandelion is portrayed as a bold knight - his shield is made of a large dandelion blossom. And, the Foxgloves are a lively group - comprised of cousins and brothers and sisters.

The book continues to appeal thanks to Walter's beautiful artwork and the allure of the enchanted realm he created, complete with Fairies, the Four Seasons, Old Man Time, knights, and other creatures.

There are 46 illustrations in this little book. Original copies of this rare book sell for over $1,000. You can view the entire album for FREE using this link in today's show notes.


1914  Today is the birthday of the cofounder of the Bickelhaupt Arboretum, Robert Earl Bickelhaupt.

Robert and his wife Frances created the Arboretum around their family home in Clinton, Iowa. During the 1960s and 1970s, Robert and Frances watched as Dutch Elm disease claimed the beautiful Elm-lined streets in Clinton. In response, Robert and Frances began planting a diverse range of trees on their property - which was 10 acres.

Now, Robert and Frances were exceptionally disciplined when it came to planting trees - they grouped all the trees by species. The Bickelhaupt Arboretum has a lovely collection of trees, including ash, beech, birch, crabapple, elm, hickory, honeylocust, linden, magnolia, and oak. They also have a gorgeous conifer collection, which is regarded as the crown jewel of the Arboretum, and it features many rare and dwarf conifers. In total, the BickelhauptArboretum boasts over 2,000 different species of plants.

And just this week, the Bickelhaupt Arboretum is writing a new chapter - they are cleaning up the damage from the derecho ("duh-RAY-cho"), the widespread and severe windstorm that blew through the midwest earlier this week (August 10, 2020).

As a result of the derecho, the Arboretum lost 28 trees, and many more were damaged in the hurricane-force winds. Now the first course of action is clean up, and then they will take down trees that need to be addressed immediately because they have been so compromised.

If you happen to go to the Bickelhaupt Arboretum, there is a poignant sculpture of Robert and Frances near the entrance. They are standing side by side as Frances places one foot on a shovel she is holding.


Unearthed Words

Today is National Relaxation Day, so take a deep breath and imagine the movement of the water as you listen to the words today's poem.

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
   I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
   To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
   Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
   And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip's farm, I flow
   To join the brimming river,
For men may come, and men may go,
   But I go on forever.

I chatter over stony ways,
   In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
   I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
   By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
   With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
   To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on forever.

I wind about, and in and out,
   With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
   And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake
   Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery water-break
   Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
   To join the brimming river
For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on forever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
   I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
   That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
   Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
   Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
   In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
   I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
   To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on forever.
— Alfred Lord Tennyson, British poet, The Brook


Grow That Garden Library

It's the Little Things by Susanna Salk

This book came out in 2016, and the subtitle is Creating Big Moments in Your Home Through The Stylish Small Stuff.

"In [It's the Little Things] Susanna successfully celebrates those details in our homes where we express ourselves the most and where our memories, our personality, and our style come alive. . . Throughout this inspiring and useful tome, Susanna features vignettes and details from designers around the globe who use details to 'bring depth and life to a room.'"
— Quintessence Blog

"If the walls of your home could talk, what would they say about you? Turns out, a lot. That’s the message in Susanna Salk’s new book, It’s the Little Things: Creating Big Moments in Your Home Through the Stylish Small Stuff, that details how the smallest design elements have the potential to make the biggest statements."
— Vogue

"With her latest book, It's the Little Things: Creating Big Moments in Your Home Through the Stylish Small Stuff, Susanna continues to inspire us with the notion that decorating your home is deeply personal. . . . If you've ever struggled with how to decorate your mantel, how to create an arrangement on a wall, or how to create a moment in a small space, this lusciously photographed volume is a godsend. . . In the end, you realize that it's not about having access to expensive things or the ability to hire a designer. When you surround yourself with things you love, the rest will fall into place, especially when you have a good guide by your side."
— Ballard Designs Blog

This book is 272 pages of little stylish things that will create meaningful moments in your home.

You can get a copy of It's the Little Things by Susanna Salk and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $38


Today's Botanic Spark

1871  Today is the birthday of the English botanist and pioneer in the science of ecology, Sir Arthur George Tansley.

Arthur's father had a close friend and fellow teacher who was a botanist, and it was this individual who inspired Arthur to pursue botany.

From a legacy standpoint, Tansley is remembered for creating the botany publication New Phytologist Which was named after an 1842 publication called The Phytologist. With his journal, Tansley wanted British botanists to be able to communicate and discuss their teaching and research.

It's thanks to Arthur Tansley that we embrace the concept of an ecosystem - he introduced us to the term in 1935. Tansley defined an ecosystem as,

"A community of organisms that interact with each other and with their environments by competing and collaborating over the available resources in order to thrive. In doing so, they co-evolve and jointly adapt to external influences."

Listen to this Tansley quote and see if it doesn't challenge you to think about your plants, your garden, and your world more broadly.

“The whole method of science… is to isolate systems for the purpose of study… whether it be a solar system, a planet, a climatic region, a plant or animal community, an individual organism, an organic molecule, or an atom… Actually, the systems we isolate mentally are not only included as parts of larger ones, but they also overlap, interlock, and interact with one another. Isolation is artificial.”

So when we ask ourselves, what is wrong with this leaf? Or, with this flower? Or, shrub or tree, etc. We should also be thinking more broadly. What is wrong with this garden? With this land?

Today, the New Phytologist gives the Tansley Medal to early career researchers working in the field of plant sciences. The award is intended to increase visibility for exciting work in all areas of plant sciences.

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