Today we celebrate the man who wrote Species Plantarum and gave us binomial nomenclature.
We'll also learn about the Boston Landscape Architect, who kept a journal of his favorite walks.
We salute the British orchidologist who saved Kew Gardens.
We also recognize the man who designed the garden at the Frick Museum in New York City.
We’ll hear one of my favorite poems about November.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that teaches us to cook with Garden-Fresh Vegetables.
And then we’ll wrap things up with a little story about a young botanist who dreamed of going to Sumatra.
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November 1, 1783
Today is the anniversary of the death of Carl Linnaeus.
Thirty years earlier, on May 1st, 1753, the publication of his masterpiece Species Plantarum changed plant taxonomy forever.
Linnaeus earned the moniker Father of Taxonomy; his naming system is called binomial nomenclature. Binomial means "two names," which in the naming game includes the plant's genus (which is capitalized or could be abbreviated by its first letter) and species or specific epithet (which is all lowercase and can be abbreviated sp.) If you have trouble remembering taxonomy, I like to think of it as the given name and surname of a person, but in reverse order.
The names Linnaeus assigned live on unchanged and are distinguished by an “L.” after their name. And, it was Linnaeus himself who said:
“God created, Linnaeus ordered.”
November 1, 1859
Today is the birthday of the Boston Landscape Architect Charles Eliot.
Charles was the son of a prominent Boston family. In 1869, the year his mother died, his father Charles Sr. became the president of Harvard University.
In 1882 Charles graduated from Harvard with a degree in botany. A year later, Charles began apprenticing with the landscape firm of Frederick Law Olmsted.
As a young landscape architect, Charles made a list of his favorite walks, and he titled it A Partial List of Saturday Walks before 1878.
Between 1885 and 1886, Charles spent 13 months touring England and Europe. The trip was actually Olmsted’s idea, and the trip provided Charles with a smorgasbord of landscapes. During the trip, Charles kept a journal where he wrote down his thoughts and sketched the places he was visiting. Charles's benchmark was always Boston, and throughout his memoirs, he was continually comparing new landscapes to the beauty of his native landscape in New England.
Sadly, Charles's story ended too soon. He died at 37 from spinal meningitis.
Before he died, Charles had been working on plans for The Arnold Arboretum at Harvard, where he'd gotten to know the arboretum director Charles Sprague Sargent. Poignantly, it was Sargent who wrote a tribute to Charles after he died, and it was featured in Sargent’s weekly journal called Garden and Forest.
Charles's death had a significant impact on his father, Charles Sr. In tribute to his son, Charles Sr. compiled all of his son's work into a book called Charles Eliot Landscape Architect. The book came out in 1902, and today it is considered a classic work in the field of landscape architecture.
November 1, 1865
Today is the anniversary of the death of the British gardener, botanist, and orchidologist John Lindley.
John served as secretary to the Royal Horticultural Society for 43 years. This is why the Lindley Library at the RHS is named in honor of John Lindley.
When he was little, John‘s dad owned a nursery and an orchard. John grew up helping with the family business.
In 1815, John left his small hometown and went to London. He became friends with William Jackson Hooker, who, in turn, introduced John to Sir Joseph Banks, who hired John to work in his herbarium.
When Banks died, the fate of the Royal Botanic Gardens was put in jeopardy. Banks' death corresponded with the death of King George III, who was the patron of the garden. These deaths created an opening for the British government to question whether the garden should remain open. On February 11, 1840, John ingeniously demanded that the issue be put before the Parliament. John’s advocacy brought the matter to the publics' attention; the garden-loving British public was not about to lose the Royal Botanic. And, that’s how John Lindley saved Kew Gardens, and William Hooker was chosen as Kew’s new director.
In terms of other accomplishments, John shortened the genus Orchidaceae to orchid – which is much more friendly to pronounce - and when he died, John's massive orchid collection was moved to a new home at Kew.
As for John, there are over 200 plant species named for him. There is "lindleyi", "lindleyana", "lindleyanum", "lindleya" and "lindleyoides".
And here’s a little-remembered factoid about Lindley - he was blind in one eye.
November 1, 1906
Today is the birthday of the British gardener, garden designer, and landscape architect Montague Russell Page.
Russell Page is best known for his garden classic called The Education of a Gardener. In his book, Russell shares his vast knowledge of plants and trees and design. The book ends with a description of his dream garden.
First published in 1962, Russell's book shares his charming anecdotes and timeless gardening advice. He wrote:
"I know nothing whatever of many aspects of gardening and very little of a great many more. But I never saw a garden from which I did not learn something and seldom met a gardener who did not, in some way or another, help me."
”I like gardens with good bones and an affirmed underlying structure. I like well-made and well-marked paths, well-built walls, well-defined changes in level. I like pools and canals, paved sitting places, and a good garden in which to picnic or take a nap.”
Russell is considered the first modern garden designer. Like Piet Oudolf, Russell used flowers to create living, natural paintings.
And although he designed Gardens for the Duke of Windsor and Oscar de la Renta, it was Russell Page who said:
"I am the most famous garden designer you’ve never heard of."
And here’s a recent twist to Russell’s legacy. In 1977, Russell designed the Gardens at the Frick Collection in New York City. However, in 2014 when the Frick was making plans to expand, they decided to demolish the Russell Page garden. After a year of facing public backlash in support of the garden (something the museum never anticipated), the Frick backed down when Charles Birnbaum, the founder of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, discovered an old 1977 Frick press release that proudly introduced the Page landscape as a permanent garden. Birnbaum shared his discovery on the Huffington Post, and thanks to him, the 3700 square-foot Page garden lives on for all of us to enjoy.
Show's over, folks. And didn't October do
A bang-up job? Crisp breezes, full-throated cries
Of migrating geese, low-floating coral moon.
Nothing left but fool's gold in the trees.
Did I love it enough, the full-throttle foliage,
While it lasted? Was I dazzled? The bees
Have up and quit their last-ditch flights of forage
And gone to shiver in their winter clusters.
Field mice hit the barns, big squirrels gorge
On busted chestnuts. A sky like hardened plaster
Hovers. The pasty river, its next of kin,
Coughs up reed grass fat as feather dusters.
Even the swarms of kids have given in
To winter's big excuse, boxed-in allure:
TVs ricochet light behind pulled curtains.
The days throw up a closed sign around four.
The hapless customer who'd wanted something
Arrives to find lights out, a bolted door.
— Maggie Dietz, American editor, and poet, November
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2005, and the subtitle is Harvest of Home-Grown Recipes.
Andrea shares 175 recipes developed based on her experience as a successful Vermont vegetable gardener in this fantastic cookbook. Her recipes are organized seasonally.
To address those nights when the mounds of vegetables are just too overwhelming to try a whole new recipe, Chesman includes fourteen master recipes for simple preparation techniques that can accommodate whatever is in the vegetable basket.
Andrea’s book is an old favorite of mine. After using her cookbook, I can tell you she’s both thoughtful and entertaining.
This book is 512 pages of cooking ideas for any gardener looking to add both foolproof and tasty variety to their cooking with fresh produce.
Today’s Botanic Spark
When I was researching John Lindley, I stumbled on an adorable story about him.
When John Lindley arrived in England as a teenager, he needed a place to stay. So, Sir Joseph Hooker graciously took him in and gave him a room at his home called Halesworth.
The story goes that, over the course of a few weeks, the Halesworth housekeeper had observed that John‘s bed was always neat as a pin. It was clear to her that John never slept in it.
This led the housekeeper to wonder what Lindley was up to and where he was sleeping. She began to worry that he might not be the kind of person they wanted at Halesworth. When her worry got the best of her, she brought the matter to Hooker's attention. In short order, Hooker confronted John and asked him to account for his unused bed.
John calmly explained that he was hoping to go to Sumatra to collect plants. Anticipating the physical difficulties of plant exploration, John had been spending every night sleeping on the boards of the hardwood floor in his room.
The net result was that John got to keep living at Halesworth, where he wrote his first book called Observations on the Structure of Fruits. Sadly, John never made it to Sumatra.
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SI HORTUM IN HORTORIA PODCASTA IN BIBLIOTEHCA HABES, NIHIL DEERIT.