Today we celebrate a journal entry about spring and sap and microclimates.
We'll also learn about a young Dutch botanist who determined the cause of Dutch Elm Disease.
We’ll hear a poem about spring from a beloved English poet.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about the Garden from a man who was never in a hurry, who fought to preserve trees and sought to work with nature.
And then, we’ll wrap things up with the story of the earliest horticulture society in the United States.
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March 22, 1856
Today Henry David Thoreau writes about spring and flowing sap in Maple trees in his journal. He also writes about microclimates - he calls them “warm places.”
“Part of the White Maples now begin to flow, some perhaps two or three days. Probably in equally warm positions, they would have begun to flow as early as those red ones, which I have tapped. Their buds, and apparently some of the red ones, are visibly swollen.
The sap is now generally flowing upward in Red and White Maples in warm positions. See it flow from Maple twigs which were gnawed off by rabbits in the winter.
The down of Willow Catkins in warm places...has peeped out 1/8 of an inch, generally over the whole Willow.
At the Red Maple [I tapped], I see the sap still running and wetting the whole side of the tree . . . Yet it is as sweet and thick as molasses, and the twigs and bugs look as if black and Polished….. No doubt the bees and other insects frequent the maples now. I thought I heard the hum of a bee, but perhaps it was a railroad whistle on the Lowell Railroad."
March 22, 1900
Today is the birthday of the Dutch Phytopathologist Christine Johanna Buisman.
Christine worked on the all-female-team of scientists tackling Dutch Elm Disease and led by the great botanist Johanna Westerdijk.
Christine is remembered for her dedication to the topic, and she was the first scientist from the group to confirm that the fungus Graphium Ulmi was the cause of the disease in North America.
Christine died young at the age of 36, after complications from surgery. The following year, she was remembered by her peers, who named the first resistant elm clone in her honor.
March 22, 1640
Today is the anniversary of the death of the English poet Thomas Carew (pronounced as "Carey")
Thomas was part of the 'Cavalier' group of Caroline poets, and he wrote a popular poem called The Spring. Here’s an excerpt:
The earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes,
and now no more the frost
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream...
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree
The drowsy cuckoo, and the humble-bee.
— Thomas Carey, English poet
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2016, and the author, William Merwin, wrote this book during a time in his life when he was losing his eyesight and when his eyes failed him. He actually dictated his poems to his wife, Paula.
When I heard of this, I immediately thought of the great garden couple Jane Loudon and John Claudius Loudon - as Jane helped John transcribe his books in the final years of his life.
In 2010, William Merwin and his wife, Paula, co-founded the Merwin Conservancy at his home in Maui. William used the 19 protected acres surrounding his home to cultivate 400 different species of tropical trees and many of the world's rarest Palm trees; William bought the property in 1977. And every day, he planted a tree.
Back in 2019. William's story was outlined in an excellent opinion piece that was featured in the New York Times. William Merwin served as poet laureate of the United States, and he received every major literary accolade, including two Pulitzer prizes.
I think that William's poems speak to a gardener’s heart. William once wrote,
believer in shade
believer in silence and elegance
believer in ferns
believer in patience
believer in the rain
And here's my favorite William Merwin quote:
“On the last day of the world, I would want to plant a tree.”
William's book Garden Time is 96 pages of inspiring verse.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
March 22, 1822
It was on this day that the New-York Horticultural Society was founded. The NYHS was the first horticultural society in the nation. This organization survived until the late 1800s.
While the Massachusetts and the Pennsylvania Hort Societies flourished, the New York Society faltered. In 1837, a frustrated member of the group wrote a letter to the editor of the Magazine of Horticulture and Botany complaining that the society’s declining membership was due to the city’s decline in morality and an overwhelming focus on prosperity — so much so that people couldn’t, “afford to patronize a horticultural exhibition.”
In reality, the society had fallen victim to the economic downturn of the 1830s and was suffering the death of a leading member and great botanist — David Hosack. David had elevated the organization - making it an elite place for horticultural education and prestige. Without David, wealthy members fell away, and the organization struggled for relevancy.
Over and over again, this group tried and failed to garner enough support to build a botanical garden in the city of New York. Finally, in the 1890s, a new movement led by Nathaniel Lord and Elizabeth Britton - successfully garnered attention and support and ultimately led to the creation of the New York Botanical Garden.
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