Today we celebrate a prolific writer who loved violets and wrote about a secret garden.
We'll also learn about the best-selling book that hit bookstores today back in 1859, and it changed the world forever.
We’ll look back at some timeless garden advice from 1966 courtesy of the Arlington Heights Garden Club.
We’ll hear some words from an English garden designer about making the most of October and November.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about incorporating edibles into your garden design - and yes, it does matter which varieties you choose to use.
And then we’ll wrap things up with some charming miscellany from The New England Farmer in 1843.
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November 24, 1849
Today is the birthday of the British-American writer and playwright Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Frances was born in Britain. As a small girl, her family home backed up to property owned by the Earl of Derby. Frances remembered it as the “garden of Eden.” Frances’s father died when she was three years old, and his death forced her mother Eliza to leave England with her five young children and immigrate to the United States. After settling in Tennessee, Frances began writing to help her mother make ends meet.
Frances published over 50 works during her lifetime, including her popular children’s novels Little Lord Fauntleroy, A Little Princess, and The Secret Garden. Although Frances became America’s highest-paid woman writer, her personal life had profound low points. She married and divorced twice, and Frances lost one of her two sons to tuberculosis when he was just 16 years old. After losing her boy Lionel, she covered his caskets in the flower that symbolizes innocence, modesty, and everlasting love: violets. For Frances, whether in America or England, gardens were a place for comfort and restoration, and violets were “her flower.”
It was Frances Hodgson Burnett who wrote,
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”
“Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden — in all the places.”
November 24, 1859
On this day, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species reached bookstores.
Over twenty years had passed since Charles departed on the HMS Beagle for a five-year voyage around the world. On this revelatory trip, Charles discovered the building blocks to his evolutionary theory in the fossils and diverse species he encountered on his expeditions.
Often, Charles Darwin is depicted as an older man on the Beagle; but he was just 22 when he sailed away and still a young 27 when he returned to England with boxes full of specimens and a brain swirling with new ideas. Darwin was 50 when his book began selling in bookstores on this day in 1859.
November 24, 1966
On this day, the Arlington Heights Garden Club shared their Garden tips for the week in the Arlington Heights Herald.
- Soil is alive—teeming with life—tiny insects you can see, and billions of organisms not visible with the naked eye. If cared for properly, it grows and increases in value. (This advice was 40 years before Teaming with Microbes by Jeff Lowenfels)
- Drooping (cut) roses can be revived by making a fresh cut 2 or 3 inches from the bottom of the stem, then placing in a tall container of very warm water until they perk up.
- Suggested Houseplant: Shrimp Plant (Beloperone guttata or Justicia Brandegeana), a sturdy plant with shrimp-pink bracts overshadowing the delicate white flowers. (A native of Mexico, these plants can grow up to six feet tall. As houseplants, it is good to prune them back in the spring because the stems are brittle and tend to snap.)
- Smooth leaf house plants benefit from a soap and water sponge bath on both sides of the leaf surface.
If it is true that one of the greatest pleasures of gardening lies in looking forward, then the planning of next year's beds and borders must be one of the most agreeable occupations in the gardener's calendar.
This should make October and November particularly pleasant months, for then we may begin to clear our borders, to cut down those sodden and untidy stalks, to dig up and increase our plants, and to move them to other positions where they will show up to greater effect.
People who are not gardeners always say that the bare beds of winter are uninteresting; gardeners know better and take even a certain pleasure in the neatness of the newly dug, bare, brown earth.
— Vita Sackville West, English author, and garden designer
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2013, and the subtitle is Design a Stylish Outdoor Space Using Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs.
This book was one of Amazon's Best Garden Books of 2013.
Leslie and Stefani are the founders of the landscape design firm Star Apple Edible & Fine Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area. This book was their stylish and beautifully-photographed guide to artfully incorporating edibles into an attractive modern garden design.
This modern landscape design duo specializes in artfully blending edibles and ornamentals together. One of my favorite aspects of the book is that Leslie and Stefani also show how to make edible arrangements with clippings from your garden. The team at Star Apple has refined the way they look at edibles in the Landscape, and - no surprise - they focus on beautiful, luxuriant foliage -- and flowers! If your vegetable garden looks wild and straggly or just stresses you out by the end of the season, use Leslie and Stefani’s ideas to make your edible plants as beautiful as they are productive.
This book is 220 pages of garden design for veggies, fruits, and herbs - with oodles of ideas for making edibles an attractive part of your Landscape.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
The New England Farmer shared a little post of miscellaneous news at the end of 1843 that caught my eye:
- Mosquitoes in November. The New Orleans Diamond, of Nov. 24th, says, "As we write, myriads of mosquitoes are hovering around us, like evil messengers. Think of that, ye frozen dwellers at the North."
- According to the Journal of Commerce, potatoes are now selling, in New York, for seventy-five cents a bushel.
- A beautiful Oriental proverb runs thus: "With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes satin." (A little reference to the silkworm’s only food: the mulberry leaf.)
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