Today we celebrate the man who cleverly saved the Royal Botanic Garden during the French Revolution.
We'll also learn about the woman who lavishly decorated her bathroom with a garden theme almost a hundred years ago.
We look back at a successful bid to save a 700-year-old Christmas Tree in Oregon.
We’ll remember one of the great nurserymen and rosarians of our time… after two years, we still feel his loss.
We hear words about the peace that comes in winter by the writer Rachel Peden.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book subtitled, "How to Have Your Yard and Eat It Too."
And then we’ll wrap things up with the story of an arboretum that came to life thanks to the vision and obsession of one Atlanta man. It’s quite the story.
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December 18, 1829
Today is the anniversary of the death of a French naturalist, biologist, and academic, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.
Lamarck died lonely, blind, and impoverished in Paris on this day in 1829. He was buried in a common grave. Regarded as the Father of Evolutionary Theory, Lamarck paved the way for Darwin’s Origin of the Species. By 1809, Lamarck had worked out a complete theory of evolution. Lamarck speculated on the inheritability of acquired traits. He believed that all life evolved upward - beginning with dead matter, progressing from simple to complex forms, and ending in “human perfection."
A progressive thinker, Lamarck also proposed an early version of continental drift.
By 1790 Lamark was working as a botanist at the Royal Herbarium in Paris. As the French Revolution intensified, Lamarck saved the Royal Garden by quietly and ingeniously renaming it. Instead of The Royal Garden, the sign simply read The Garden of Plants. Lamark’s little sign trick worked, and the garden was saved.
December 18, 1930
On this day, The Boston Globe shared a little snippet called “Bathrooms like Gardens.”
Here’s an excerpt:
“Lady Cromer has her favorite flower, the iris, as the motif of her bathroom.
The walls are painted with growing irises in flower on the bank of a river, the river being the bath itself, and the whole effect is that of a charming garden.”
“[In Seaside, Oregon], a giant 700-year-old Christmas tree has been added to a five-acre tree farm park dedicated to the public.
The Sitka Spruce, 195 feet tall and 15 feet, 9 inches in diameter… contains enough wood to build six two-bedroom houses.
The ink was barely dry on England's Magna Carta when the spruce sprouted. The tree passed its 500th birthday before the American Revolution.
The American Forestry Association, which keeps records on big trees. lists a 180-foot Sitka Spruce in Washington's Olympic National Park as the largest tree. While it boasts an eight-inch edge in diameter, it is 15 feet shorter than Oregon's champion.”
December 18, 2018
Today is the second anniversary of the death of the rose breeder and writer David Austin.
When David passed away, I found some old advertisements that he posted in The Observer in 1973. That post was already twelve years after creating his first commercially available Rose - the Constance Spry.
A 1973 ad showed how early-on David found his calling. It read:
“Old-fashioned roses, shrub roses, rare and unusual roses, many of our own breeding. Roses of charm, and fragrance. The country's finest collection.”A handbook of roses” free.”
Under the big Swamp Maple in the east lot,
the gray geese and the white Pilgrim ganders gather silently.
During winter nights, they sleep in the open face tool shed,
and often in the night, they think of new expressions of scorn and at once utter them.
(“We are the watchdogs, we geese. We saved Rome.”)
That peaceful morning they walked on the clinging, moist snow and were still.
They looked thoughtful as if contemplating the sense of peace that provided the whole farmscape.
I realized to my astonishment that if total peace ever actually befell the whole world all at one time,
it would be the most spectacular sight mankind has ever seen.
Nobody would be able to believe it, or, perhaps, even to survive it.
— Rachel Peden, ecologist and writer, The Land, The People
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2013, and the subtitle is How to Have Your Yard and Eat It Too.
In this book, Michael shares his life at his Long Creek Homestead in Frederick, Maryland. Michael’s gorgeous property includes 25 acres of mixed woodland, food forests, gardens, and a nursery designed for experimentation and education.
Michael’s book is his how-to manual for following in his footsteps: transforming a sea of grass into a flourishing edible landscape that pleases the eye as well as the taste buds. With his delightful personality and quick humor, Michael explains the complexities of permaculture design into his simple do-it-yourself projects like:
- Herb Spirals
- Food Forests
- Raised-Bed Gardens
- Earthen Ovens
- Uncommon Fruits
- Outdoor Mushroom Cultivation, and more . . .
The book features beautiful photography and practical designs that can be easily grafted to the urban landscape's micro-habits, scaled up to the acreage of homesteads, or adapted to already flourishing landscapes.
This book is 144 pages of an edible landscaping primer with a permaculture twist to help anyone with a desire to turn their landscape into a luscious and productive edible Eden.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
December 18, 1999
On this day, The Marshfield News-Herald out of Marshfield, Wisconsin, published a story called “Dream Fulfilled: Georgia Man Lovingly Cultivates Arboretum at His Home.”
The story features Tom Cox, a man who has a passion for trees.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Tom, 54, is a boy on a great adventure. It's as if he has played in every tree's branches, smelled and felt every leaf.
He uses careful, precise words when he talks about the textures of leaves: crisp, refined, leathery, or lacy.
It is the same with bark. One is striated, another like patchwork. Still, another is smooth like silk.
Tom describes in meticulous detail how certain trees will look in 10 or 15 years. He envisions the blossoms, leaf color, or berries the trees will display at different ages and seasons.
Tom purchased 14 acres, built a house, planted trees on half the property, and started his private Arboretum, which he shares with garden clubs and groups like Trees Atlanta.
Now he has 600 trees, with varieties representing 38 countries, and he tends them all himself. Small signs identify each by genus and species.
His wife Evelyn does some weeding and mulching, but he doesn't ask her to water. Or mow. He cuts the grass, careful to avoid nicking a tree.
Evelyn travels with her husband to many weekend plant shows. She calls their 10-year-old station wagon the "dirt mobile."
Tom calls it the "plant mobile."
She laughs about her trips home, crowded by some 60 to 70 plants.
"I've had to fend off an occasional spider or two. Most of all, I just enjoy seeing him enjoy it.
When he first started, he'd buy bare-root plants and call me outside every Saturday to look at a new bundle of sticks and at tree bark. He's really into bark, you know."
To Tom, unusual trees aren't hard to grow, just hard to find because nobody asks for them.
His Japanese apricot, which blooms bright orange in February, is one example.
"Everybody would have one if they only knew about it."
And, he often spots unusual trees in local hardware stores.
One of his favorite evergreen trees is a Japanese black cedar he bought at an Ace Hardware in south Atlanta.
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