Show Notes

Today we celebrate one of my favorite botanical painters.

We'll also learn about a botanist who was one of the first female plant pathologists.

We’ll hear some thoughts on the humble dandelion.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a fun fiction book that incorporates masterful recipes, mystery, secrets, conflict, and the garden.

And then we’ll wrap things up with a story about a beloved Louisiana garden expert.

 

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Important Events

January 14, 1825
On this day, King Charles X honored the Belgian botanical illustrator Pierre-Joseph Redouté with the Legion of Honor.

Redouté was born into a Flemish family of painters. His family made a living by creating paintings for the home and for the church.

Today, Redouté is one of the most renowned flower painters of all time - he's a personal favorite of mine. And I love the stories about Redouté.

One time when he was serving as an official royal draftsman, Redouté was summoned to appear before Queen Marie Antoinette. I like to imagine the excitement this caused - especially since the Queen sent her request around midnight. When Redouté appeared, the Queen asked him to paint her a cactus. She was exerting her control; Redouté needed to prove that the reports of his talent were real. He passed the test.

Redouté was also a favorite of Josephine Bonaparte. In fact, Redouté’s paintings of Josephine’s flowers at Malmaison are among his most beautiful works.  And Redouté's work earned him a nickname; the Raffaele of flowers.

Today, Redouté is best known for his paintings of lilies and roses (roses were his specialty).

Now, if you'd like to really treat yourself or get a special gift for a gardener in your life, you should check out the book by Werner Dressendorfer called Redouté: Selection of the Most Beautiful Flowers. 

This large coffee table book was released in September of 2018. As one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen, Dressendorfer’s book features 144 paintings by Redouté that were published between 1827 and 1833.

And I must confess that this gorgeous book is one of my favorite books in my Botanical Library.

Now when this book first came out, it retailed for $150. Last year, after mulling it over for a long time - mainly because of the price, I got myself an excellent used copy for $65. Today new and used copies of Redouté: Selection of the Most Beautiful Flowers by Werner Dressendorfer are being sold on Amazon for between $350 and $900.

 

January 14, 1865
Today is the anniversary of the death of the Belgian botanist, mycologist, and one of the first women plant pathologists, Marie-Anne Libert.

Born in 1782, Marie-Anne was the twelfth of thirteen children in her middle-class family. Her parents immediately recognized her intellect, and they sent her to school in Germany when she was 11 years old.

In addition to her general love of learning, Marie-Anne was fascinated by the natural world. So, Marie-Anne began botanizing, and she learned to classify her own specimens. Since most references available to her were written in Latin, Marie-Anne mastered Latin - all on her own.

Now, Marie-Anne specialized in cryptograms - plants with no true flowers or seeds like ferns, mosses, liverworts, lichens, algae, and fungi ("fun-GUY").  And it was Marie-Anne's maniacal focus on cryptograms that paved the way for her to meet with top botanists of her day like Alexander Lejeune and Augustin Pyramis de Candolle.

Today Marie-Anne Libert is remembered as the botanist who first identified the cause of “late blight” in potatoes.

Thirty years later, Anton de Bary would continue where Marie-Anne left off - when he proved that potato blight - or late blight disease - is caused by a fungus-like organism that spreads rapidly in warm, humid weather.

Blight can show up in the foliage of potatoes and outdoor tomatoes, and it will eventually cause the breakdown of the entire plant - including the potatoes and tomatoes.

Informed gardeners can prevent late blight by strategically planting potatoes in a breezy spot - leaving plenty of space between plants. Potato plants can also be treated with a fungicide to ward off blight. As with tomatoes, it’s important to rotate crops to prevent the build-up of the disease in the soil.

 

Unearthed Words

To many homeowners, the dandelion is little more than a prolific, pesky weed. However, this abundant yellow-flowering plant provides not only beauty but also food, drink, medicine, and even inspiration for poetry.

Perhaps no one has praised the dandelion better than Wallace Nutting, the noted turn-of-the-century photographer and author. “The dandelion is the greatest natural agent of decoration in our part of America,” he wrote in Connecticut Beautiful in 1923.

“In some fields, it is so abundant that there is no more than enough grass visible to give it a setting... It is so thoroughly at home that we feel it to be the most prominent and persistent native American, whatever its origin. Coming as it does in the early spring, it clothes an entire landscape with its gorgeous color and rejoices the heart of man... It is our tulip in the grass.”

Among our thousands of species of wildflowers, the common dandelion may be the most common; probably, its only close competitor is the common chickweed. Not only are its numbers great, but its flowering season is one of the longest of any of our plants. I have seen plants blooming in every month of the year in Connecticut, though finding one in January or February is rare.
— Jack Sanders, Hedgemaids and Fairy Candles, Common Dandelion

 

Grow That Garden Library

A Taste for Nightshade by Martine Bailey

This book came out in 2016, and this is a fiction book.

In this book, Martine writes a thrilling historical novel set in Manchester in 1787. The book incorporates recipes, mystery, secrets, and conflict between two naïve young women named Grace and Mary.

This book was Martine’s second book titled after a garden flower - her debut novel was the culinary-themed An Appetite for Violets.

When Martine isn’t writing books, she’s an amateur cook who won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former Dessert Champion. Hence, the recipes in her books are amazing and a tasty treat to accompany her historical research.

This book is 464 pages of revenge, rogues, recipes, and riveting plot points.

You can get a copy of A Taste for Nightshade by Martine Bailey and support the show using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $4

 

Today’s Botanic Spark

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

January 14, 2001
On this day, The Times out of Shreveport, Louisiana, published a story by Margaret Martin about garden expert Joe White:

“Northwest Louisiana gardeners call Joe White when they had a question.

Want to know about pests, soil, or dying plants?

Joe is only a phone call away... for a few more weeks.
Joe is retiring.

Joe has been an area agent… for the LSU Agricultural Center/Extension Service since 1972.

It was two days after high school graduation when Joe decided what he wanted to do with his life.

Joe said, 

"I enjoyed very much working with plants. It occurred to me early on that horticulture had a way of touching everybody's life."

Joe was fresh from an LSU-Baton Rouge Ph.D. horticulture program when his job was created at the request of the city of Shreveport, and he was hired. He holds a B.S. in agricultural science from Tennessee Tech University and an M.S. in horticulture from the University of Tennessee. The area was lucky to get him.

"His knowledge of horticulture is just astounding," said Dan Gill, with whom he co-wrote Louisiana Gardener's Guide.  “He makes me chuckle. I can't remember a conversation I've had with him that I haven't chuckled."

Joe founded a Cooperative Extension newsletter that he still edits called Pickles, Peaches, and Pansies.

Joe educates through the Master Gardeners Program and Barnwell Horticultural Programs.

When Joe first arrived, he received from 12,000 to 14,000 calls a year and visited homes and farms to help with soil problems and identify plants and their problems. Media work diminished the calls to 5,000 to 6,000 a year.

Joe’s biggest challenge? He chuckled and said:

"The one thing and this is crazy, but the one thing I seem unable to convince people to do is plant strawberries in the fall rather than in the spring! I've been harping on this for 28 years, and people still insist on planting them in the spring."

How has horticulture and gardening changed in 28 years?

"More and more people can afford mechanical things like tillers...
We learned more about fertilizers.
We now have the slow-release types. In the case of native plants, people are searching for plant materials without having to protect from pests by using chemicals.
And I think people are more diet conscious, and herbs are an alternative."

His best advice to novice gardeners:

“Get good sound information from a reliable source.
Follow guidelines for cultural practices for planting and use recommend varieties for the crops.
Remember, the All-American varieties have been tested nationwide and have met requirements to be elevated to that level.
Ask friends or neighbors what they have grown successfully, what particular variety. That is usually pretty reliable information."

Joe White at a Glance

FAVORITE KIND OF GARDEN: Informal Southern style.

FAVORITE PUBLIC GARDENS: Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pa., the summer estate of the DuPont family.

"I was most impressed with it, the extensiveness of it. And the many different ornamentals, fruits and vegetables and including a huge indoor area that is landscaped. You'd think you were in the middle of Florida. There is a special children's garden. It was breathtaking."

TOOLS HE FEELS ARE INDISPENSABLE FOR A NOVICE GARDENER: 
"There are three: hoe, shovel, and rake."

Joe gardens, growing mostly vegetables and fruit trees, also some natives, and annuals.

He ticks off the wide range of vegetables he raises:

"Definitely tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, okra, onions, sometimes some sweet potatoes, sometimes Irish potatoes, kale, cabbage, radishes, sometimes beets, broccoli, cauliflower, occasionally some squash, sometimes cantaloupe and sometimes watermelons."

He grows a hardy tangerine, apples, and pears, if he can beat the squirrels to them, muscadines, grapes, pomegranates, and figs.

And even Joe White sometimes has problems with his garden. He said:

"I am very human. That kind of helps me to identify with people when they come in with a problem. I don't know but that helps communication." 

For Joe, leaving is bittersweet. 

"I love what I do. I really never feel like I am coming to work. I come to serve." 

 

Thanks for listening to The Daily Gardener.
And remember:

"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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