Today we celebrate a disabled botanist who felt no area could be considered fully explored.
We'll also learn about the tree that honors David Douglas.
We’ll hear some thoughts about the future and our need to turn to nature, which will only grow in importance.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with an old book that taught us how to cook with garden herbs, vegetables, and fruit.
And then we’ll wrap things up with a humorous story about a poet and a coachman.
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January 22, 1917
Today is the anniversary of the death of the Presbyterian minister, writer, and American botanist Ellsworth Jerome Hill.
Ellsworth was born in Leroy, New York.
When Ellsworth was only 20 years old, one of his knees stopped working, and a doctor suggested he study botany. So, Ellsworth would crawl from his house to the orchard, where he would pick a few flowers and then crawl back to the house to identify them.
And the following year, Ellsworth, who used to canes when he walked, moved to Mississippi, where the climate was warmer.
After Ellsworth met and married a young woman named Milancy Leach, she became his daily helpmate.
When Ellsworth was feeling especially lame or simply lacked strength, Milancy would step in and finish the work for him.
However, by the time he was 40, Ellsworth somehow put his lameness behind him. In the back half of his life, he seemed to be better able to manage his physical challenge. Thanks to Milancy’s guidance, Ellsworth had learned how to cope with the symptoms.
In a touching tribute to Ellsworth after his death, the botanist Agnes Chase wrote:
“Most of these collections were made while Ellsworth walked on crutches or with two canes. Ellsworth told me that he carried his vasculum over his shoulder and a camp stool with his crutch or cane in one hand. To secure a plant, he would drop the camp stool, which opened of itself, then he would lower himself to the stool and dig the plant.
Ellsworth recovered from his lameness but often suffered acute pain from cold or wetness or overexertion. But this did not deter him from making botanical trips that would have taxed a more robust man. In the Dunes, I have seen him tire out more than one able-bodied man.“
Ellsworth recognized the value in revisiting places that had been previously botanized. It was Ellsworth Jerome Hill who said,
"In studying the flora of a restricted region, no matter how carefully it seems to have been explored, one is frequently surprised by new things...
No region can be regarded as thoroughly explored until every acre of its wild areas at least has been examined. Some plants are so rare or local or grow under such peculiar conditions that a few square rods or even feet may comprise their range."
January 22, 1927
On this day, The Placer Herald out of Rocklin, California, shared a story called “Douglas Fir Entirely Distinct Tree Species.”
“The Douglas fir, a native of the Northwest but now being planted extensively in the East, is becoming a famous Christmas tree.
The species was named for a Scotch botanist who discovered it on an expedition in 1825, but its scientific name is Pseudotsuga, meaning "false hemlock."
As a matter of fact, it is neither a hemlock nor a fir, and though it is sometimes called a spruce, It isn't that either.
The tree belongs to an entirely distinct species.
The tree most commonly used for Christmas trees is a real fir: the balsam - so-called because its blister-like pockets yield a resinous liquid known as Canada balsam, which is used, among other things, for attaching cover plates to microscope slides.”
The Douglas-fir is not a true fir, which is why it is spelled with a hyphen. Anytime you see a hyphen in the common name, you know it's not a true member of the genus.
Almost 40 years ago, clinical psychologist and pet therapy expert Boris M. Levinson was asked to speculate on what the human-pet world might look like in the year 2000 and beyond.
Levinson turned out to be quite the soothsayer, predicting an explosion in pet acquisition thanks to the computer-driven, technological world. In January 1974, he said:
“Suffering from even greater feelings of alienation than those which are already attacking our emotional health, future man will be compelled to turn to nature and the animal world to recapture some sense of unity with a world that otherwise will seem chaotic and meaningless ... in the year 2000 pets will become a very important safety valve in a sick society.”
— Your Brain on Nature by Eva Selhub and Alan Logan
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 1971, and the illustrations are by Tasha Tudor.
This is a vintage book for the gardener cook - a 50-year-old classic with Betty Crocker recipes designed to incorporate herbs and vegetables.
This book is 170 pages of adorably illustrated garden recipes.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
January 21, 1901
On this day, The Danville News out of Danville, Kentucky, shared a story about the English Journalist, poet, and short-story writer, Rudyard Kipling.
It turns out after Rudyard Kipling left Vermont, he rented a place called The Elms in the little English village of Rottingdean between 1897 and 1902.
Now for some reason, Rudyard did not get along with a local bus driver named Boniface.
Apparently, when Boniface would drive his bus past Rudyard's property or see Rudyard outside, he would point his whip at him and snarkily say, "Here we have Mr. Kipling, the soldier-poet."
Rudyard endured this character for a while, but then Boniface had an accident right outside Rudyard's home, and his bus hit one of Rudyard's favorite trees. Upset by the damage and the character of this man, Rudyard sent Boniface a stern complaint letter.
Now Boniface happened to own a local tavern called “The White Horse Inn.”
And after receiving Rudyard's letter, Boniface read the letter to his customers at the tavern, and while some of the customers advised ignoring the letter, one of the more wealthy customers bought the autographed letter from Kipling for 10 shillings.
As for Rudyard, when he didn't hear anything back, he sent Boniface a second, more-strongly-worded, letter.
Again, Boniface read the letter to his customers at the tavern. This time, one of his customers paid him a pound for the letter.
After hearing nothing in days, you can imagine what happened next: Rudyard finally went to The White Horse Inn to meet Boniface in person, and he angrily asked why his letters went unanswered.
Boniface smugly replied,
"Why didn't I answer your letters, sir?
Well, I was hoping you'd send me a fresh one every day.
They pay a great deal better than driving a bus!"
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