December 1, 2020 December Folklore and Flowers, John Gerard, Andrew Thomas Gage, Clark Gable, Ebenezer Elliott, Planthropology by Ken Druse, and the Divine Miss M Rose

Show Notes

Today we celebrate the botanist who wrote one of the first Herbals.

We'll also learn about the botanist who wasn’t thrilled about getting one of India’s first telephones.

We’ll recognize the lost work of an American botanist and painter.

We’ll remember the Hollywood Legend who loved gardening alongside his famous wife.

We’ll hear an excerpt from a famous garden poem by an English poet.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a Book that teaches us all the dirt - old and new - on plants, and it's written by one of the true plant masters of our time.

And then we’ll wrap things up with the story of a new rose that came out in 2019… and here’s a hint: It’s divine.



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Curated News

December Folklore and Flower | The Daily Gardener | Jennifer Ebeling

  • December changeable and mild; the whole winter will remain a child.
  • No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.
  • Thunder in December means fine weather ahead.
  • Frost on the shortest day means winter will be severe.
  • Then, here's a little tidbit of folklore regarding the snow. When the world was made, everything except the snow was given a color. So the snow went out and begged all the flowers to share their color. He asked the violet, the lilac, the buttercup, and the rose, but they all turned him down. It was only the snowdrop that offered to share its beautiful, pure, snow-white color. And, ever since, in thanks to the snowdrop, the snow keeps the blossoms of the snowdrop safe all winter long.

December’s birth flowers are the holly and the paperwhite. So, they are very different from each other; one being a  bulb and the other an evergreen, but they both symbolize hope.

  • Traditionally, Holly is the symbol of domestic happiness. Remember that while animals and birds can eat holly berries; they are semi-toxic to people.
  • Meanwhile, the Paperwhite (Narcissus) has fragrant white blooms that symbolize coldness and self-esteem. In Floriography ("FLOOR-EE-ah-grah-FEE"), the narcissus conveys that you want your beloved to stay just the way they are.


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Important Events

December 1, 1597  
On this day, The Herbal, or General History of Plants, by John Gerard was first published.

In the Herbal, John shared over 800 species of plants and shared gorgeous woodcut illustrations. During his life, John was allowed to garden on land at Somerset House, and for a time, he served as the herbalist to King James I.

Today, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust sells Christmas Cards that feature John Gerard’s woodcuts of Holly, Pears, and Mistletoe. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust cares for Shakespeare's family homes and shares the love of Shakespeare from his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Anyway, if you’d like to support a great organization and enjoy the John Gerard Christmas cards and gift wrap, head on over to


December 1, 1910 
On this day in the Scottish Botanist and Surgeon, Andrew Thomas Gage wrote from India to complain about some new technology he had been given; the telephone. Andrew served as the Director of the Botanical Survey of India and he worked at the Botanic Garden in Calcutta.

Andrew wrote:

“They forced this invention of the devil upon me.
Fortunately, the thing has a knack of getting out of order...”


December 1, 1932
On this day, the American actor Clark Gable was photographed at his Beverly Hills villa watering his flowers.

By the end of the decade, Clark would marry Carole Lombard, an actress who shared Clark’s love for the natural world.

As newlyweds, Carole and Clark had bought a 21-acre estate - just forty minutes outside of Beverly Hills. Instead of living glamorously, they turned the estate into a working farm. And Carole sold her star sapphire collection to fund their dream.

Carole set up all the crops they would grow, and she worked long hours on the ranch. They had an orchard/citrus grove, a dairy, and a vineyard, and the farm produced peaches, grapes, oranges, lemons, walnuts, apricots, hay, and alfalfa. They used the alfalfa they grew for feed. They sent their grapes to the local hospital. The Farmers Association marketed their citrus crop. Many biographies mention that Carole and Clark raised turkeys for MGM to use at its commissary. Carole bought Clark a tractor in a touching gesture, and Clark enjoyed taking care of his two prized racehorses and the cattle. To top it all off: Carole and Clark called each other “Ma” and “Pa.” They were really and truly living a farm fantasy. They even used kerosene lamps in their living room.

Carole and Clark loved their simple life together on their ranch, and they both loved watching things grow.

But, Clark and Carole’s life together ended suddenly when her plane crashed shortly after taking off from the airport in Las Vegas. Carole’s death was crushing to Clark. Today, in honor of his request, Clark Gable is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery next to Carole.


Unearthed Words

December 1, 1849
Today is the anniversary of the death of the English poet Ebenezer Elliott.

Thy fruit full well the schoolboy knows,
Wild Brambles of the brake!
So put thou forth thy small white rose;
I love it for his sake.
— Ebenezer Elliott, English poet, To the Bramble Flower


Grow That Garden Library

Planthropology by Ken Druse 

This book came out in 2008, and the subtitle is The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites.

The subtitle alone made me want to buy it all those years ago!

In this book, Ken teaches us all the dirt - old and new - on plants in this beautifully illustrated book.

Now what I love about Ken's book is that it's full of stories about plants. Ken shares new information, he shares some plant controversies, and he even dispels common myths.

 Ken's book is a collection of tidbits, and he shares random and delightful brevities about our favorite topic: plants.

“For instance, if you like winding down on a terrace or patio after work, Druse suggests planting petunias. Why? Because they are evening fragrant—their pollinators only come out at night.

And, We meet bumblebees who literally shake pollen free from flowers with sonic vibrations.”

Ken even offers a primer on Floriography ("FLOOR-EE-ah-grah-FEE") or the language of flowers.
The Gardenia says, “I love you in secret,” and the Acacia says, “Let's be friends.”

This book is 288 pages of anecdotal garden wisdom and tidbits from one of our time’s true plant masters.

You can get a copy of Planthropology by Ken Druse and support the show using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $15.


Today’s Botanic Spark

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

December 1, 1945
Today is the birthday of American singer, songwriter, actress, comedian, and film producer Bette Midler born in Honolulu.

In 1979, Bette starred in her first movie called The Rose. She didn’t win an academy award for her Rose performance; that award went to Sally Field for Norma Rae. But forty years later, in 2019, Bette was honored by the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) with a rose named in honor of her stage persona: The Divine Miss M.

On June 19th, 2019, the NYBG introduced Bette’s white-yellow rose with a fragrance of mint and lime at the New York Restoration Project Spring Picnic at the Botanical Garden in New York City.

In 1995, Bette started the New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit that renovates and restores neglected NYC parks to ensure green space for all New Yorkers.

After receiving the honor at the Botanical Garden, Bette commented,

“I didn’t win the Oscar for The Rose. Of course, I never think about it.
But I do want to say right now, there’s no Norma Rae rose.”

By the end of the event, Bette led the crowd in a rose song sing-a-long. She started with Lyn Anderson’s “Rose Garden,” then her version of “The Rose,” and then she wrapped things up with “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”


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