Today we celebrate the English poet who often wrote of the Natural World and the garden.
We'll also learn about the man who coined the term “Landscape Architect.”
We’ll read a letter written by a garden writer about the last flowers in her fall garden.
We’ll learn about the Canadian botanist and writer who had a marvelous column called The Note Book.
We’ll hear some relatable words about November from a gardener and writer.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that helps you learn to become a market gardener and more self-sufficient.
And then we’ll wrap things up with a number one instrumental song about fall leaves.
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November 19, 1850
Today is the anniversary of the death of the English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Alfred was the fourth of twelve children in his family, and he became one of the most well-loved Victorian poets.
Today, Alfred’s walled garden on the Isle of Wight is still available for walk-throughs. Both Alfred’s home and the garden have been restored to their former glory, and the property gets top ratings on TripAdvisor.
And, here's Tennyson’s most-quoted sentiment by gardeners:
If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…
I could walk through my garden forever.
— Alfred Lord Tennyson, English poet
November 19, 1895
Today is the anniversary of the death of the Landscape Architect Calvert Vaux ("Vox"), who died on this day in 1895.
Calvert was born in England, but he came to the United States at the age of 24 to work on landscape projects with Andrew Jackson Downing. Together, they planned the grounds around the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
After Downing's untimely death, Calvert named his second son Downing to honor his partner and friend.
Calvert went on to work with many talented people during his career, including Jacob Weidenmann and George Radford.
When Calvert Vaux came up with a public competition to design Central Park, he teamed up with Frederick Law Olmsted. While they worked on Central Park, Calvert coined the term “Landscape Architect” to describe what they were doing. Calvert said that his goal for Central Park was to,
“translate democratic ideas into trees and dirt.”
Since Frederick and Calvert worked so well together, they continued to work on joint park projects like Prospect Park in Brooklyn, South Park in Chicago, and the New York Reservation at Niagara Falls.
In 1895, at the age of 70, Calvert was living with his son in Brooklyn. Calvert developed a morning walk ritual, and he often visited Prospect Park. On this day in 1895, the weather was foggy, and Calvert decided to walk the pier along Gravesend Bay.
Two days later, after his kids reported him missing, newspapers shared this description:
"Missing since Tuesday. Calvert Vaux... four feet ten inches; medium build; gray hair and full beard; ruddy complexion; wore a blue overcoat with velvet collar, blue trousers, dark mixed undercoat, no vest, black derby hat; wears gold-rimmed eyeglasses; shirt has a name on it."
The following day, Calvert's body was found in Gravesend Bay. Like his dear friend Downing, Calvert had drowned.
At the end of November, the Statesville Record And Landmark out of Statesville, North Carolina, ran a tribute to Calvert that read:
"Calvert Vaux was… one of the most famous men in the world....
[He] created Central Park [and] people who have [visited it from] all over the world say that no park… is so beautiful.
But, the Brooklyn folks say that… Prospect Park is handsomer. Yet that, too, was "created" by Calvert Vaux.
[Calvert] soothed nature's rough places and... brightened her attractive features.
In Prospect Park, nature left little for a man to do.
But Central Park is almost wholly artificial, and it's beautiful vistas of hill and dale, lake and wood, are largely the work of [Calvert] Vaux.”
November 19, 1934
On this day, the garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence wrote to her sister:
“...The first of the week I picked the last of your red and yellow zinnias, just before the frost finished up everything. But Ithink gardens are just as pretty in winter. The winter grass is so fresh when you rake the leaves off the beds weeded and covered with compost, and ivy very green, and some sweet alyssum still in the path and that nice raked-up look and the air full of smoke and leaves falling. Nothing is so beautiful and sad as leaves falling. “
November 19, 1937
Today is the anniversary of the death of the Canadian botanist and writer Julia Wilmotte Henshaw.
Remembered as one of British Columbia‘s leading botanists, Julia studied for a bit with the botanist Charles Schaefer and his wife, Mary Schaefer Warren. This was a happy working relationship by all accounts until Julia published Mountain Flowers of America in 1906. The Schaefers felt Julia had profited from their work and beat them to publish it. But other perspectives point out that Julia was more driven, and she was an experienced author. Over time, Julia went on to publish two additional volumes on Canadian wildflowers.
A founding member of the Canadian Alpine Club, Julia had a regular column in the Vancouver Sun newspaper called The Note Book. Her peers at the paper called her “Gentle Julia.”
Julia's weekly column is a delight to read even today and I tried to find some experts from her November columns.
On November 28, 1934, Julia wrote:
“A friend who walked through my garden yesterday and who had read in the "Note Book" last Friday the list of plants in bloom there, arrived at the house in an indignant mood and abraided me for omitting to say that the following flowers were also to be gathered: White California Poppy, Pink and Blue Larkspur, Large White Heath, Fuchsia, Thyme, Lobelia And Nasturtiums.
Taken altogether, the garden is making a brave showing when one remembers that today is November 28.
One thing I am sorry to note, all my best nasturtiums whose seeds should have Iain dormant till the spring, are already turned into little plants three inches high.”
And here’s an excerpt from Julia's final column dated November 23, 1937 - just five days before her death:
We have become so used to the "tame" mushrooms, grown in sheds and carefully reared for [year-round] sale, that October and November fail to any longer bring in their wake the old thrill of gathering wild mushrooms, the flavor of which so far surpasses that of the homegrown varieties, useful as the latter are in their steady procurableness.
Fruits of the field have a flavor all their own, and one need not be a gourmet to appreciate the Wild Strawberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Crabapple, and for their own special purposes the Sloe, Hip-haw, Wine-berry and Grape.
Have you ever read these delightful lines from the "Heart of New England"?
Oddly fashioned, quaintly dyed,
In the woods, the mushrooms hide;
Rich and meaty, full of flavor,
Made for man's delicious savor.
But he shudders and he shrinks
At the piquant mauves and pinks,
Who is brave enough to dare
Curious shapes and colors rare?
But the toadstools bright and yellow
Tempt and poison many a fellow,'
Nay! a little mushroom study
Would not injure anybody.
“Like a chain letter, I will take a plant from this garden to the next and from the next garden to the one after that, and so on, until someday I am an old woman nurturing along with a patchwork quilt of a garden, with cuttings and scraps from every garden I tended before.”
– Amy Stewart, gardener, and writer, From the Ground Up
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2010, and the subtitle is Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre.
Brett’s book is a #1 rated five-star bestseller on Amazon. His book is practical and evergreen with tips for how to, as Brett likes to say,
“provide 85 percent of the food for a family of four and earn an income.”
Brett covers garden basics like buying and saving seeds, starting seedlings, establishing raised beds, soil fertility practices, composting, dealing with pest and disease problems, and crop rotation. Brett also addresses self-sufﬁciency topics like raising backyard chickens and home canning.
Brett is an engineer, a third-generation farmer, and a polymath in terms of his own experience. Brett runs a profitable, Certified Naturally Grown mini farm on less than half an acre in New Ipswich, New Hampshire.
This book is 240 pages of DIY gardening and gardening for profit. I think it would make a wonderful gift for the holidays - especially if you need to find the perfect gift for someone interested in self-sufficiency.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
November 19, 1955
On this day, Autumn Leaves by Roger Williams reached the top spot on the music charts.
Autumn Leaves was Roger’s most successful song and the first instrumental song to reach number 1 on the Billboard charts during the rock era.
As a performer, Roger Williams was less flamboyant than Liberace. He was, however, a lifelong friend of Ronald Reagan. Roger played for so many presidents that he became known as the pianist to the presidents.
For Roger’s 80th birthday, Steinway made a limited-edition, $285,000 golden piano. The piano features Roger’s signature and has an inscription: the lyrics and music for Autumn Leaves' first verse.
The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sunburned hand I used to hold.
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.
After today’s episode, you should treat yourself and ask Alexa or Google to:
“Play Roger Williams Autumn Leaves.”
The arpeggio-laden song conjures the quintessential image of Autumn: leaves letting go of the tree branches and falling to the ground.
Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener.
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