Today we celebrate a German naturalist and two American female landscape architects.
We hear an excerpt about September from a modern Southern writer whose stories are set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about Walled Gardens.
And then we’ll wrap things up with the birthday of an American plantsman and ecologist. His work continues to inspire the botanists who follow in his footsteps.
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September 16, 1651
Birth of Engelbert Kaempfer, German naturalist, physician, explorer, and writer. He is remembered for his ten-year exploration through Russia, Persia, India, and Asia between 1683 and 1693. He was the first European to bring botanical specimens back from Japan. His book, Amoenitatum Exoticarum (1712), was an invaluable medical resource and offered the first flora of Japan, featuring nearly 500 plants from the island. He was the first Western botanist to describe the Ginkgo.
September 16, 1876
Birth of Marian Cruger Coffin, American landscape architect. She was one of two women in her 1904 landscape architecture class at MIT. Since most architecture firms didn’t hire women, Marian started her own practice in New York City and became one of America's first working female landscape architects. She started out with small projects in the suburbs of Rhode Island and ended up as the most in-demand landscape architect for the East Coast elite. Her client list included the Fricks, the Vanderbilts, Marjorie Merriweather Post, the Huttons, and the du Ponts. Her legacy includes many of her Delaware commissions: Gibraltar (Wilmington, Delaware), the University of Delaware campus, Mt. Cuba, and Winterthur. In 1995, author Nancy Fleming expanded her Radcliffe thesis and wrote Money, Manure & Maintenance - a book about Marian Coffin’s gardens. The title was a reference to the three ingredients Marion thought necessary for a successful garden. Marion once observed,
The shears in the hands of the average jobbing gardener are, indeed, a dangerous implement. As much devastation can be done in a few moments as it will take an equal number of years to repair. This I have observed to my sorrow...
September 16, 1887
Birth of Annette Hoyt Flanders, American landscape architect, and writer. A daughter of Milwaukee, she worked on all types of gardens in the Midwest and out East. For her design of the French Gardens at the McCann Estate, she received the Architectural League of New York’s Medal of Honor in Landscape Architecture (1932). In a 1942 article in The Record (New Jersey), she advised,
Hold on to every bit of beauty you've got. Don't tear up your gardens. We're going to need gardens more than ever, and what's more, we can't afford to create an economic crisis by throwing out of work hundreds of people who are dependent for their livelihood on things we need for our gardens.
She once said,
Real beauty is not a matter of size — a tiny, inexpensive garden can be just as beautiful as a big one.
There is a time in late September when the leaves are still green, and the days are still warm, but somehow you know that it is all about to end as if summer was holding its breath, and when it let it out again, it would be autumn.
― Sharyn McCrumb, King's Mountain
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2018, and it is from the National Trust.
In this book, Jules Hudson of the BBC shares some of the most spectacular walled gardens throughout England and Wales. In centuries gone by, these gardens were vital to sustaining family life - not only for food - but also for medicine and beauty.
In the late 18th century, these gardens became synonymous with wealth as the elite sought to grow exotic fruits right in their own backyard. Over time, these kitchen gardens were enhanced with glasshouses and heated walls. The level of creativity, commitment, and charm reflected in these gardens are evident still today.
This book is 240 pages of walled kitchen gardens in all their glory.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
September 16, 1874
Birth of Frederic Edward Clements, American plant ecologist. In 1916, he introduced the concept of a biome to the field of ecology. He also helped pioneer the study of vegetation succession. He believed his botanist wife, Edith, would have been a world-renown ecologist if she hadn’t devoted so much time to help him. Together the “Doctors Clements” traveled across America researching and teaching the next generation of ecologists. For fieldwork, Frederic devised a technique known as the quadrat method: pound four stakes into the ground, wrap a string around the stakes, and tally the number and kinds of plants in the square. MIT’s John Vucetich marveled at the power and scale of Frederic’s work, writing,
To draw a string around that many sets of stakes, to sit down before a small patch of the Earth that many times, to get down on the level with plants, to take a quick look, gain a gestalt, and then engage in the deliberative task of touching every single plant, recognizing its species name and writing it down, pressing pencil to paper, once for each individual—to do that not for a weekend, not a few dozen times, but to perform that meditation thousands of times over a lifetime—there is no more intimate, more mesmerizing way to connect with nature.
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