Show Notes

Today we celebrate the man remembered as the Father of Plant Anatomy.

We'll also learn about a man who developed his own system fr classifying plant families. Then we’ll chat a bit about why knowing your plant families can be a beneficial skill to add to your gardening expertise.

We hear a little poem today from an English writer who was born on this day - she led an incredible life and died young.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about a great topic - Plant Folklore.

And then we’ll wrap things up with a little story about one of my favorite spring ephemerals: Violets.



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Important Events

March 25, 1641
Today is the birthday of the Father of Plant Anatomy, Nehemiah Grew.

Nehemiah was an English botanist and was the first person to illustrate the inner structures and functions of plants in all their amazing intricacies. Specifically, Nehemiah illustrated eighty images in his 1682 book called Anatomy of Plants, which was divided into four topics: Anatomy of Vegetables begun, Anatomy of Roots, Anatomy of Trunks, and Anatomy of Leaves, Flowers, Fruits, and Seeds.

Nehemiah was one of the first naturalists to incorporate the microscope in the study of plant morphology. Nehemiah’s unique perspective is what he tried to recreate in his drawings. For instance, Nehemiah's drawings of tree parts cut transversely look like intricate laser cuts.

If you've ever seen a Nehemiah Grew drawing, you'll probably agree that you can spot them a mile away. But, if you've never seen a Nehemiah Grew drawing, imagine a mandala or an etch-a-sketch drawing on steroids. The lines in these drawings are impossibly thin, and the level of detail is staggering.

Nehemiah’s use of the microscope allowed him to write about it intimately, and he wrote the first known microscopic description of pollen.

And as you might imagine, Nehemiah’s obsession with the microscope even extended to the human body. So, it’s not surprising to learn that Nehemiah was also the first person to analyze the ridges, furrows, grooves, and pores on human hands and feet. He published his incredibly accurate drawings of finger ridge patterns in 1684. Palm readers owe Nehemiah a debt of gratitude. (Just kidding.... or am I?)

Now, if you’d like to try something fun this summer, you can channel your inner Nehemiah Grew and get a microscope on Amazon or at a thrift store and check out your own plant specimens under the microscope.


March 25, 1844
Today is the birthday of the German botanist Adolf Engler.

Adolf developed a system for plant classification now called the Engler System that is still used in some specialty areas today. His masterpiece was Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien (“The Natural Plant Families”).

The concept of Plant Families is useful for gardeners to understand.

Plant families can help with plant identification. Once you know the characteristics of plants in a family, you can narrow down your plant identification options.

Once you know that the Common Daisy (Bellis perennis) is in the Asteraceae Family will look like a Daisy. Flowers in the Campanulaceae Family are often bell- or star-shaped, and the blossoms are blue.

Plant families even tend to have similar seed structures or shapes. Plants in the Cabbage or Brassicaceae Family have little paper-thin membranes that divide the two halves of the seedpod.

And plant families can often have similarities when it comes to seedlings. Monocot families like the Iris and the lily will have seedlings with a single leaf, while dicot families have two seed leaves.


Unearthed Words

Into the scented woods we'll go
And see the blackthorn swim in snow.
High above, in the budding leaves,
A brooding dove awakes and grieves;
The glades with mingled music stir,
And wildly laughs the woodpecker.
When blackthorn petals pearl the breeze.
There are the twisted hawthorn trees
Thick-set with buds, as clear and pale
As golden water or green hail-
As if a storm of rain had stood
Enchanted in the thorny wood,
And, hearing fairy voices call,
Hung poised, forgetting how to fall.
— Mary Webb, English romantic novelist, and poet, Green Rain
(Birthday: March 25, 1881)


Grow That Garden Library

Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants, and Trees by Ernst Lehner and Johanna Lehner

This book came out in 2003. It's an oldie, but goodie, and I agree with how this book's publisher describes it. They say:

This profusely illustrated archive of more than 200 flowers, plants, and trees was compiled by Ernst and Johannah Lehner, and they happen to be two of the world's foremost collectors of pictorial symbols.

How's that for a job!? And they also happen to be devoted flower enthusiasts - so that's a wonderful mashup.

I love diving into the meaning of flowers (floriography) and looking at the symbolism of flowers. And what Ernst in Johanna do in this book is really look at all aspects of these flowers, plants, and trees and then look at the religious meaning and the legends that have evolved around these plants. They also examine how these plants have been used as symbols through time.

If you have any interest in this topic, this book is a must-have.  

This book is 128 pages of the religious, legendary, and symbolic meaning of 200 plants.

You can get a copy of Folklore and Symbolism of Flowers, Plants, and Trees by Ernst Lehner and Johanna Lehner and support the show using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $10


Today’s Botanic Spark

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

March 25, 1874 
On this day, the English merchant and author Henry Arthur Bright recorded an update about his spring garden in his famous book called Year in a Lancashire Garden.

Again we have had frost and snow, and this time it has done us harm. The early bloom of the Apricot has turned black, and our chance of a crop rests with the later buds.

Meanwhile, the white Scilla, the double Daffodil, the Arabis, and some others, are doing well enough. A bed of Daisies and another of Polyanthus are far from satisfactory. Hepaticas I have tried over and over again, and they always fail.

By the way, I found it very difficult to get these Primroses and had to pay what seemed an excessive price for them.

...we have Violets in abundance, and they scent all the air as we pass through the garden door. Even in winter, a faint fragrance lingers among their leaves--a shadowy memory of a perfume, which haunts them even when no single flower can be found.

Bacon says that "the flower which above all others yields the sweetest smell in the air is the Violet; especially the double white Violet which comes twice-a-year: about the middle of April and about Bartholomew-tide (August 24)."


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

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