Today we celebrate the gardener and writer who turns 91 today.
We'll also learn about the man who created the world’s smallest rose garden.
We’ll recognize the lost work of an American botanist and painter.
We salute November with an excerpt from a book by an American historical crime novelist.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a fantastic book about the Arts and Crafts Movement, which gave us wonderfully inspiring homes and gardens.
And then we’ll wrap things up with the story of a misnamed plant - and it’s too late to change it now.
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November 20, 1929
Today is the 91st birthday of the garden writer and designer Penelope Hobhouse, born on this day in 1929.
When Penelope visited Tuscany, she was captivated by the villa gardens, and she began teaching herself garden design. A 2016 article in the New York Times said Penelope is,
"a fixture in the minds of gardeners who love rooms and bones – the paths and walls and satisfying verticals that form the skeleton of a garden."
Penelope has designed gardens worldwide, including a garden for Elizabeth the Queen Mother at Walmer Castle in Kent, an herb garden for the New York Botanical Garden, and an English cottage garden for Steve Jobs' Woodside home.
Gardens Illustrated recently shared a post featuring six of her garden design principles:
Think about backgrounds
Large trees can be used to frame the sky; hedges provide vertical and horizontal lines as well as a background for planting, while small trees with broad, globular, or pyramidal heads act as ‘ceilings.’ Low continuous hedging can be used to frame pathways.
Create a strong framework
I tend to create a strong structure or framework for my gardens, with looser planting within. The architecture can be supplied by buildings, walls, steps, and pergolas, but also by plants.
Don’t overuse colors
The cardinal rule for planting is to use bright colors sparingly. Form is much more important than color, and flowers are fleeting, so start instead with the shapes and hues of trees, hedges and shrubs, and the leaf form and color of herbaceous plants, the shape they make, and the height they grow to.
Mix plants up
Choose plants that will not only do well in any particular spot but will also associate happily with any neighboring indigenous plants.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
To help unite the house and garden and create flow, repeat hard or soft features.
Don’t forget it’s for you
Gardens should also provide shade and shelter, seats for contemplation, scents, and solitude, and require just the right amount of maintenance to encourage relaxation, because, above all, they are places to be enjoyed."
Despite all of her achievements, gardeners find Penelope relatable and personable. In a recent video, Penelope said,
"I'm still finding my way."
November 20, 1969
Today is the anniversary of the death of the Oregon Journal columnist and gardener Richard William Fagan, who died on this day in 1969.
As gardeners, we celebrate Richard for installing the world's smallest rose park - Mill Ends Park - in Portland on February 23, 1954. The installation coincided with "Rose Planting Week."
Richard’s Mill Ends Park is just 18 inches in diameter and was named after Dick's column, also called Mill Ends. The name for the column Mill Ends came from Dick's passion for collecting little bits and news items about the Pacific Northwest sawmills - thus, Mill Ends.
In fact, the mayor of Portland once joked,
"I don't know why [anyone would invite] me to talk on city affairs.
Dick Fagan can tell you more."
Mill Ends Park is really just a small plot in the middle of an empty lamppost hole on a cement divider on the street at the intersection of SW 1st and Taylor Street.
That year, in 1954, the city of Columbus, Ohio, claimed the title of "The Rose City" - an honor held by Portland for over 50 years. Portland gardeners were incensed and began planting roses all around the city.
Hearing about Ohio's competition, Dick got the idea for the littlest rose park after spying the empty spot in the road divider from his window at the Newspaper building. Dick’s Mill Ends Park consisted of a single rose bush, a little wire fence, and a small wooden marker that said: "Mill Ends Park."
November 20, 1989
On this day in 1989, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shared an incredible story called Buried Blossoms by Patricia Rice, which shared the story of the long lost work of the botanist August Henry Kramer. Here's what it said:
"After 40 years in basements, [Kramer's] collection of 493 botanical watercolors was scrutinized by two local art appraisers.
You might imagine that art appraisers become blase about seeing another beautiful painting.
But not Barbara Messing.
"They took my breath away," she said.
Flowering mint, California poppies, hummingbird sage, wild parsnips, whispering bells, rare alpine flowers seemed almost fresh on the paper.
Each had been meticulously painted from live botanical specimens by August Henry Kramer in his spare time as a fire lookout In California and Oregon.
Kramer was born ... in south St. Louis but spent his adult life in the Western forests. ...
Shortly before his death in the late 1940s, he brought his paintings to his sister in St. Louis, with careful notes detailing the care of the delicate watercolors.
Kramer's great-nephew, [Art] Haack, does not know precisely when his great-uncle died or where he was buried.
He packed "Uncle Gus' box [of watercolors]" each time he and his ... family moved.
"Every once in a while, I would take them out, and we would look at them."
A few years ago, Jeanne Haack, (Art's wife) and a volunteer guide at the Missouri Botanical Garden, took her husband to an art exhibit of botanical drawings at the Garden.
They immediately reminded [Art] of his uncle's work.
He wrote about the paintings to the Garden's [Director] Peter Raven, who sent two staff members to look at Kramer's work.
When [the appraiser, Barbara] Messing, pulled the paintings from their brown paper wrappings, it was the first time they all had been seen - outside the family - in forty years.
After a couple of hours of looking at them, she felt hot tears flowing down her face. She said,
"Each drawing was so beautiful. It made me cry."
The next morning I had to get outside, and so began a period of long walks in the park.
Early November continued bright, with the last Sun of the year shining low and coppery over the woods.
Striding through heaps of rusty autumn leaves, I ached to see beauty dying all around me.
I felt completely alone in that rambling wilderness,
save for the crows cawing in their rookeries and the wrens bobbing from hedge to hedge.
I began to make studies in my book of the delicate lines of drying grasses and frilled seed pods.
I looked for some lesson on how best to live from Nature, that every year died and was renewed, but none appeared.
― Martine Bailey, American historical novelist, A Taste for Nightshade
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2018, and the topic is a favorite of mine.
In this book, the landscape scholar Judith B. Tankard shares the inspirations, elements, and evolution of garden design during this iconic movement. Judith hand-picked homes and gardens from Great Britain and North America to show the diversity of designers who helped forge the Arts and Crafts Movement.
I love reading Judith's work because she does such thorough research, and then she presents everything she’s learned with great clarity and passion. Whether you are an architect, student, garden designer, or hobbyist, Judith’s book offers a compelling narrative explaining how this garden design period is still relevant to how we create and understand landscapes today.
Gardens of the Arts and Crafts Movement features celebrated artists such as William Morris and Gertrude Jekyll. Readers will benefit from Judith’s diligence in collecting visuals like photographs, period paintings, and garden plans to convey all the important elements of the movement.
This book is 300 pages of the best examples of the Arts and Crafts movement with Judith as your expert guide.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
November 20, 1933
On this day, the Knoxville Journal shared a story called "Department Botanists Agree Too Late to Change - Lespedeza was named in Error."
Lespedeza (pronounced "Les-pah-dee-zah") is a genus of around 40 species of flowering plants in the pea family, commonly known as bush clovers.
The article pointed out that the mistaken identity...
"dates back to 1803 when [the] French botanist, Michaux, ...bestowed the name to honor the governor of Florida [named] Lespedez who allowed [the botanist André] Michaux to explore Florida as part of his botanizing efforts for France.
[But,a botanist by the name of] P. L. Ricker, of the United States Department of Agriculture, ... [couldn't find] a governor [named Lespedez] in Florida State history.
By checking [the] old histories, records revealed that the governor in 1788 was actually named Cespedes, making it clear that the name as given by Michaux was either an error or a misprint. Botanists of the department agree that it would be a mistake to try to correct the mistake now if for no other reason [than] it would lead to confusion with a family of tropical trees, Cespedesia named in honor of an early professor of botany also named Cespedes."
So there you go. We're stuck with Lespedeza.
Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener.
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