November 13, 2020 Frederick Lueders, Walter Bartlett, Howard Scott Gentry, Jane Powers, Candace Bushnell, Jeff Cox, P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes from the Garden, and the 1916 Chrysanthemum Show

Show Notes

Today we celebrate the German-American botanist who lost all of his botanical work in the Columbia River.

We'll also learn about the man who started the Bartlett Arboretum.

We’ll remember the Agave expert who never wanted a desk job.

And we’ll take a look back at an article about the relationship between royalty and the number of plants they owned.

We’ll hear some inspiring quotes about the garden and the first snow.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a cookbook for gardeners by an American garden celebrity.

And then we’ll wrap things up with the story of a 1916 Chrysanthemum Show.



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Trees Are Time Machines | The Atlantic | Clive Thompson


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Important Events

November 13, 1843   
Today is the anniversary of the day that the German botanist, Frederick Lueders, lost all of his botanical work.

Frederick had been botanizing along the Columbia River in Oregon. For three years, Frederick had collected specimens across North America. He had just encountered the explorer John Freemont, when all of his work, which was secured in a canoe nearby, was drawn into the rapids. Frederick plunged into the river and retrieved his copy of The Flora by Torrey and Gray.

The devastating loss was recorded in Freemont's journal who wrote:


"In the natural concern I felt for his misfortune, I gave to the little cove the name of Lueders' Bay."


For Frederick’s part, the loss of his specimens was devastating. The loss of his instruments and his correspondence with Asa Gray and Dr. Englemann was almost too much for him. Frederick determined his best course of action was to return home. He traveled south around the tip of Chile and then onto England. It took him a full year to get back to Hamburg after his mishap on the Columbia.

Frederick didn't stay in Germany long; he returned to America within the next year. By 1851, he had made his way to Wisconsin; he spent the rest of his life in Sauk City, and he dabbled in astronomy, but he also became a florist.  A biographical sketch said that in his old age, Frederick Lueders was mainly devoted to his flowers.


November 13, 1870 
Today is the birthday of the physician, naturalist, and civic leader of the south-central Kansas town of Belle Plaine - Dr. Walter E. Bartlett.

In 1910, Walter started the Bartlett Arboretum by purchasing 15 acres of land on the edge of a town called Belle Plaine - about 20 miles south of Wichita. The property had good soil, and it also had a little creek. One of Walter's initial moves was to dam up the creek and create a lake for waterfowl. In the flat expanse of Kansas, Walter was tree obsessed. He planted them everywhere - lining walkways, drives, and riverbanks.

Walter was civic-minded. He enhanced the arboretum with a running track, a trap shooting area, and a baseball diamond complete with a grandstand.

After Walter died, the park was managed by his landscape architect son, Glenn. Glenn had studied the gardens at Versailles - noting that they were transformed out of sand dunes and marshes. Back home, the Bartlett Arboretum had similar challenges.

Glenn married Margaret Myers, an artist, a magazine fashion designer, a floral designer, a Garden Club organizer, and an instructor. Combining their fantastic skillsets, Glenn and Margaret turned the Arboretum into something quite beautiful. Together, they Incorporated tree specimens from all over the world. Using dredged dirt from the lake, they created man-made islands.

At one point, the Bartlett Arboretum was the only Arboretum between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Known for its beautiful spring tradition called Tulip Time, the Arboretum featured a tulip bed with over 40,000 bulbs.

In 1997, the Arboretum was sold to Robin Macy. Macy was one of the founding members of the Dixie Chicks, and she is the current steward of the Bartlett Arboretum. Naturally, Robin incorporated music into the Arboretum.

The Facebook Group for the Arboretum recently shared a register page from April 7th, 1929, and across the top of the register, Walter Bartlett quoted Wordsworth. He wrote,


“He is the happiest who has the power to gather wisdom from a flower.”


If you get the chance to visit the Arboretum, you’ll likely agree that the folks who tend the flowers and trees at Bartlett make people happy all year long.


November 13, 1982
On this day newspaper shared a great story about the author of "Agaves of Continental North America," Howard Scott Gentry:


"This elder statesman of the botanical world [is] a first-class charmer when you get .... to his subject;...
his love for the wilds of Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico,
...the years he spent overseas as an agricultural explorer for the USDA,
and  how he gradually came to know more about agaves "than any other human being."


After Gentry completed a doctorate in botany at the University of Michigan, he became a USDA agricultural explorer. Based in Maryland, Gentry traveled the world, locating, researching, and collecting plants for the government. During the time Gentry collected, the USDA was highly interested in plants in the agave family and the wild yam family, which contained compounds that seemed useful in treating arthritis.

Because of his far-flung collecting (he traveled in 24 foreign countries), Gentry was regularly introducing (and writing about) new plants. It was high-profile work in the botanical community. Regarding his career, Gentry reflected:

"I refused several times to become a desk man for USDA.
It was a chance to cut out all the travel, but I told them, 'No, not me. I want to work with plants, not people.
People are problems."


November 13, 2010
It was on this day that Jane Powers wrote an excellent botanical history piece for the Irish Times.

I especially loved this article because Jane correlated the number of bedding plants a person ordered during the middle of the 19th century and their corresponding personal wealth.

Here's what Jane wrote:


“In the heyday of bedding, the number of plants that a person displayed was a gauge of their wealth and status.
According to the head gardener at the Rothschild estate at Halton in Buckinghamshire:
it was 10,000 plants for a squire,
20,000 plants for a baronet,
30,000 plants for an earl,
and 40,000 plants for a duke.”


Unearthed Words

Thank goodness for the first snow.
It was a reminder--no matter how old you became and how much you'd seen, things could still be new if you were willing to believe they still mattered.
—Candace Bushnell, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Sex and the City


A garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature.
—Jeff Cox, American garden writer


Grow That Garden Library

P. Allen Smith's Seasonal Recipes from the Garden by P. Allen Smith

This book came out in 2010, and the subtitle is A Garden Home Cookbook.

I fell in love with Allen’s cookbook the minute I discovered that he makes his pie crust the same way my mom taught me to make my pie crust. That little connection won my trust.

As one of America’s best-known gardeners and garden designers, Allen celebrates every season with reliable recipes that showcase fruits, vegetables, and herbs at their garden-fresh best.

Allen’s debut cookbook features 120 recipes: 30 for each season. There’s nothing outlandish or off-the-charts difficult here. Allen’s appeal is that he focuses on the dishes that everyone loves to eat.

My favorites include:

  • Chilled Pea Soup with Bacon and Whipped Cream
  • Salad of Asparagus, Edamame, Arugula, and Cheese
  • Radish Top Pasta
  • Aunt Martha’s Corn Pudding
  • Rosemary-Garlic Smoked Pork Tenderloin
  • Parmesan Pecan Crisps
  • Roasted Red Pepper Soup
  • Slow-Cooker Lamb Stew
  • Savory Rosemary Butternut Squash
  • Tiny Orange Muffins

Another aspect of this cookbook that I love is that Allen shares delightful personal stories with every recipe.

This book is 256 pages of easy-going recipes that utilize the goodness from our gardens and will make you feel like you’re cooking with a trusted garden friend.

You can get a copy of P. Allen Smith's Seasonal Recipes from the Garden by P. Allen Smith and support the show using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $4.


Today’s Botanic Spark

November 13, 1916
On this day, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shared a sweet little article about the 16th annual chrysanthemum flower show in Washington DC.

Now, one of the guards at the show, who had been repeating, "Keep to the right! "Keep to the right!" all morning to the mass of visitors streaming into the greenhouse was interviewed for this article. And he made some fascinating comments about the show, like this one:


"If you ever get the idea that people aren't interested in flowers, just give a flower show.”


After careless guests damaged some of the specimens, the guard wryly observed,


"Sometimes people take entirely too much interest in flowers.
If you don't watch them, they will break them off and take them home as souvenirs!"


During the early 1900s, chrysanthemum shows were held annually in most large cities throughout the country.

Regarding the DC show, the Pittsburgh Post reported:


“The question everybody asks, pointing to a big white "Queen Mary" or a small lavender pompon is: Where can I buy seeds of such varieties as this?

At the show, over 250 varieties of chrysanthemums were exhibited... The whole greenhouse was a riot of color, with yellow and lavender predominating.

Interest in chrysanthemums is increasing every year. National shows have been held every season for the last 16 years, but there has never been such large attendance before."

Great post. Wish we could turn back time...

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