Today in botanical history, we celebrate a poet, an English garden designer, and a garden historian.
We’ll hear a fun excerpt about calculating cold weather from a Pulitzer-prize-winning play by David Auburn.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a bible on winter growing and harvesting - so year-round gardening - from the master himself: Eliot Coleman.
And then we’ll wrap things up with some thoughts on transplanting - the toll it takes on plants… and us.
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September 14, 1613
Death of Sir Thomas Overbury, English poet, and writer.
He died after being poisoned when he was a prisoner in the Tower of London. He once wrote,
The man who has nothing to boast of but his ancestors is like a potato - the only good belonging to him is underground.
September 14, 1699
Baptism of Batty Langley, English garden designer, writer, architect, and artist. His elaborate garden designs often featured mazes. If you see one online, you’ll find them mesmerizing. A jack of all trades, he offered his wealthy clients a myriad of garden features to choose from, including grottos, baths, fountains, cascades, garden seats, structures, and sundials. Batty sought to soften Baroque gardens featuring formality and geometric shapes with natural landscapes. George Washington was a fan of his work and ordered his New Principles of Gardening (1728) for his library at Mount Vernon. Batty wrote,
There is nothing more agreeable in the garden than good shade, and without it a garden is nothing.
September 14, 1931
Birth of Susan Campbell (artistic name: Susan Benson), English illustrator, food writer, and garden historian. She eventually became an expert on the history of walled kitchen gardens after visiting Thomas Pakenham at Tullynally Castle. For over four decades, she researched and wrote about over 700 walled kitchen gardens in the UK and worldwide. In 2001, she established the Walled Kitchen Garden Network with fellow garden historian Fiona Grant. Recently, she studied the garden belonging to Charles Darwin’s father, Robert Darwin. In a 1984 interview, Suan commented,
Oh, painting was agony. Agony.
And writing is a doddle compared [to] illustrating…
[But kitchen gardens] seemed as secret as anything with their big walls… and I longed to see what they were like.
Let X equal the quantity of all quantities of X.
Let X equal the cold. It is cold in December. The months of cold equal November through February.
There are four months of cold, and four of heat, leaving four months of indeterminate temperature.
In February, it snows. In March, the lake is a lake of ice. In September, the students come back, and the bookstores are full.
Let X equal the month of full bookstores.
The number of books approaches infinity as the number of months of cold approaches four.
I will never be as cold now as I will in the future.
The future of cold is infinite. The future of heat is the future of cold. The bookstores are infinite and so are never full except in September...”
― David Auburn, Proof
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2009, and the subtitle is Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses.
In this book, Renaissance man Eliot Coleman shares his ingenuity and time-tested experience with growing and harvesting food year-round. If you’re considering extending your growing season, Eliot’s book is regarded as the bible of successful winter sowing, growing, and harvesting. With The Winter Harvest Handbook, gardeners can remain active and productive even in the coldest winters using unheated or minimally heated, movable plastic greenhouses.
Eliot shares how to make and maintain your greenhouse, along with growing and marketing tips for over 30 different crops.
This book is 264 pages of a proven model for enjoying fresh, locally-grown produce all through the winter.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
September 14, 1938
On this day, the Canadian naturalist Charles Joseph Sauriol wrote in his diary,
I stood out on the lawn at 12.30 A.M. The Valley silvered in moonlight could have been back in July… Moving is transplanting, and transplanting causes most plants to droop momentarily. We always feel a trifle sad about pulling up stakes...
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