Today we celebrate the man remembered as the "Father of American Dendrology" (the study of woody plants, trees, and shrubs).
We'll also learn about the November birth flower, which was celebrated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on this day in 1883.
We also recognize the botanist, who was Philadelphia’s botany man during the 1800s.
We hear some words about November by an American comedian, writer, and activist.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a Garden Cookbook with a southern flair.
And then we’ll wrap things up with a little story about a pesky Otter and a koi pond in Vancouver.
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November 5, 1801
Today is the anniversary of the death of the botanist Humphrey Marshall.
The Marshalls were cousins to the Bartrams - their mothers were sisters. Humphrey’s cousin, John Bartram, was known as the "Father of American Botany” after establishing the country's first botanical garden, and he ignited Humphrey's love of native plants.
In 1773, after Humphrey inherited his family estate and a sizable inheritance from his father, he created the country's second botanical garden. Humphrey incorporated natives, naturally, but also exotics.
Humphrey forged a friendship with the British botanist John Fothergill who paid Humphrey for his plant collecting. John was a collector and a connector, introducing Humphrey to many of Europe's top botanists and a growing customer list. John's contacts helped Humphrey source new plants for his botanical garden.
And Twenty-five years before Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis & Clark on their expedition, Humphrey Marshall repeatedly suggested exploring the American West - in 1778, 1785, and 1792.
A fellow friend, Quaker, and botanist Joseph Trimble Rothrock wrote this about Humphrey:
"The earth abounds in beauty, all of which is open to his chastened senses. He revels in the sunlight and the breezes. The songs of the birds fall, welcome, into his ear. The colors of the flowers attract him."
In 1785, Humphrey published the very first American essay on trees and shrubs. Humphrey Marshall is also known as the "Father of American Dendrology" (the study of woody plants, trees, and shrubs). Marshalltown, Pennsylvania, was named in honor of Humphrey Marshall.
The genus, Marshallia, is named in honor of Humphrey Marshall.
November 5, 1883
On this day in Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society held its first Chrysanthemum Show in Horticultural Hall.
This would be the first of several Chrysanthemum events presented by PHS to the public.
Chrysanthemums have a fascinating history. In 1790, Chrysanthemums were brought back from China and introduced to England, where they were greeted with much adoration.
The greens and blossoms of the chrysanthemum are edible, and they are particularly popular in Japan, China, and Vietnam.
During the Victorian times in the language of flowers, the red chrysanthemum meant "I Love," and the yellow chrysanthemum symbolized slighted love.
In China, the chrysanthemum is a symbol of autumn and the flower of the ninth moon. During the Han dynasty, the Chinese drank chrysanthemum wine - they believed it made their lives longer and made them healthier. As a result, the chrysanthemum was often worn to funerals.
Generally, chrysanthemums symbolize optimism and joy - but they have some unique cultural meanings around the world.
On Mother's Day down under, Australians traditionally wear a white chrysanthemum to honor their moms, and Chrysanthemums are common Mother's Day presents.
In Poland, chrysanthemums are the flower of choice to be placed on graves for All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.
Chrysanthemums are the November birth flower and the 13th wedding anniversary flower.
In 1966, Mayor Richard Daley declared the chrysanthemum as the official flower of the city of Chicago.
November 5, 1896
On this day, the newspaper out of Buffalo, New York, reported that John Redfield herbarium was looking for a home.
John H Redfield was born in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1815. In 1836, John became friends with Asa Gray after joining the Lyceum of Natural History in New York, where Gray was the Librarian and Superintendent. They remained life-long friends.
During the 1840s, Gray tried to locate a plant called the Shortia galacifolia (commonly known as Oconee bell). Gray named the plant Shortia in honor of the Kentucky botanist, Charles Wilkin Short. Originally, Andre Michaux had found the plant and had sent it back to Paris. But since Michaux, no one could identify where the plant had been harvested.
In 1863 Charles Short died - and still no Shortia. Botanists like Asa Gray and John Robinson dealt with constant taunting from comments like "Have you found the Shortia yet?"
In May of 1877, a North Carolina teenager named George Hyams was walking beside the Catawba River when he spied a plant he couldn't name. His father was an amateur botanist, and he sent the specimen to a friend. Somehow the specimen made it to Gray, who could be heard crying 'Eureka' when he saw it. Thanks to George Hyams, Gray had found his Shortia.
In 1879, Gray and his wife invited their botanist friends John Redfield, Charles Sprague Sargent, and William Canby to see the Shortia in the wild. Soon enough, they found the Shortia growing in the exact spot Hymans had described. It was an honor of a lifetime for John Redfield to be there with his old friend.
John devoted most of the final twenty years of his life to the herbarium of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. John's work at the Academy was both worker bee and preservationist. John made sure the early botanical work was indexed and mounted, preserving the city of brotherly love's precious botanical history.
During John's lifetime, botanists had traditional visiting habits depending on the city they were in: they would visit Torrey if they were in New York, Asa Gray if they were at Harvard or in Boston, and John Redfield when they passed through Philadelphia. Botany folks genuinely liked John; his botanist friends noted his "strong yet tender character" when they wrote about him in his obituary.
I have come to regard November as the older, harder man's October. I appreciate the early darkness and cooler temperatures. It puts my mind in a different place than October. It is a month for a quieter, slightly more subdued celebration of summer's death as winter tightens its grip.
— Henry Rollins, American comedian, writer, and activist
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2011, and the subtitle is Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers' Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes.
In this book, Sheri aims to make "what's in season" the answer to "what's for dinner?". I love that!
Shari’s cookbook offers over 300 recipes that will inspire new and experienced cooks, southern or not, to utilize the seasonal delights from our gardens.
“Sheri Castle offers a vision for Southern cuisine that's based wholly on locally grown, seasonal foods. . . . The ingredient lists are seductive on their own, but Sheri is a warm and engaging writer with the kind of practical wisdom that enlightens any kitchen.” — Oxford American
“She formulates realistic recipes in her well-equipped but ordinary home kitchen….The proof of this pudding is in the produce: fresh, with reverence and flair. Y'all dig in.” — The Pilot
This book is 456 pages of garden recipes from a true southern hostess.
Today’s Botanic Spark
November 5, 2019
Finally, last year during this week, the Global News shared a story called Koi Tremble in Fear as Otter makes a reappearance in the Vancouver Chinese garden.
"Nearly a year after a hungry otter began decimating the koi population at Vancouver’s Chinese Gardens... The Vancouver Park Board said Saturday the otter was spotted in the koi pond on Wednesday morning after three koi carcasses were found.
Park board staff began draining the pond that same day to transfer the remaining koi to a temporary holding area off-site.
It’s not yet known whether this otter is the same one that ate 11 of the garden’s 14 prized koi fish in November of last year, including a prized 50-year-old fish named Madonna."
When I shared this story in the Facebook Group last year, I wrote: "There Otter be a law!" In all seriousness, for pond owners, there's nothing worse than losing your koi.
After watching the Vancouver park measures to prevent animals from getting into the pond area, I have to say it's pretty intense. And, it just goes to show that whether you're a big public garden or a small private garden, dealing with critters like this can require ingenuity and hard work — and even then, there are no guarantees.
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