April 5, 2021 Cottage Garden Ideas, Matthias Schleiden, Zina Pitcher, Lilies of the Valley Fabergé egg, Edward Giobbi, Happy Bonsai by Micheal Tran, and Anne Scott-James
Today we celebrate the botanist who discovered cells in plants and helped to establish cell theory.
We'll also learn about an amateur botanist who had a tremendous impact on the University of Michigan.
We’ll remember the gift of a stunning Fabergé egg known as The Lilies of the Valley egg.
We hear a delightful verse about spring from a famous cookbook author.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about Bonsai.
And then we’ll wrap things up with the story of one of England’s great garden writers.
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Cottage Garden Ideas | Ideal Home | Tamara Kelly
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April 5, 1804
Today is the birthday of the German botanist and early evolutionist Matthias Jakob Schleiden.
Along with Theodor Schwann, Matthias was also the co-founder of the cell theory. Matthias was the first person to recognize the importance of cells in plants.
Later, he speculated on the role of the nucleus in cell division. It was Matthias Schleiden who said,
"Youthful fancy lends to the rock, the tree, the flower, an animating genius, and in the thunder hears the voice of God. Then comes earnest science stripping Nature of that inspiring charm, and substituting the unvarying law of blind necessity."
April 5, 1872
Today is the anniversary of the death of the American doctor, educator, and amateur botanist Zina Pitcher.
Zina managed to pack a lot of living and incredible relationships into his 75-year life.
Known for his tireless work ethic, Zina established the Detroit public school system. He taught at West Point. He was a prominent doctor in Michigan and served as president of the American Medical Association. And, he was mayor of Detroit; twice.
In his spare time, Zina was also an amateur botanist. He even discovered a few new plant species, including a thistle - that is now commonly known as Pitcher’s Thistle (Carduus Pitcheri or Cirsium Pitcheri) in his honor. This white-to-pale-pink flowering thistle can be found on beaches along the Great Lakes.
One of Zina’s other professional roles was serving on the Board of Regents for the University of Michigan. In fact, Zina was the longest-serving of the 12 original regents of the school.
As a regent, Zina helped acquire a copy of John J. Audobon’s “The Birds of America” for the school Library. He also helped recruit Asa Gray to be a professor of horticulture.
When Gray arrived in Michigan, his first stop was Zina’s home in Detroit. Gray accepted the job but requested that his start date be pushed back by one year to finish his studies in Europe. This arrangement worked for the University, too - they needed to build more facilities on campus. In addition, Zina and the other regents commissioned Gray to buy books for the school while he was abroad. Gray shopped his bachelor buttons off, and he shipped over 3,700 books back to Ann Arbor.
But, when Gray’s year in Europe was done, he never made it back to Michigan. Instead, Harvard stole him away.
But Gray’s work in creating the University library helped establish the school’s reputation and made recruitment easier. Today, the street, Zina Pitcher Place in Ann Arbor, is named in Zina’s honor.
April 5, 1898
On this day, a Fabergé egg known as The Lilies of the Valley egg was presented to the Russian Tsar Nicholas II. The egg was a gift for his wife, Empress Alexandra. Today the egg is kept in the Fabergé Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Lily of the valley, Convallaria majalis ("con-vah-LAIR-ee-ah mah-JAY-liss), is a woodland plant that flowers in the spring with sweetly scented, delicate, bell-shaped white flowers.
Despite its common name, Lily of the valley is in the asparagus family - not the lily family. It’s not a lily at all.
The etymology of the Latin name “majalis” means “belonging to May," In addition to blooming in May, Lily of the Valley is the birth flower for the month of May. In France, Lily of the Valley Day is celebrated every May 1st.
In Floriography, the Lily of the Valley represents good luck. The tiny blossoms are favorite for making perfume, and among brides, Lily of the Valley was included in the wedding bouquets of Queen Victoria, Princess Astrid of Sweden, Grace Kelly, and Kate Middleton.
Lily of the Valley thrives in cool growing zones - it cannot thrive in hot conditions.
I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring.
Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?
— Edward Giobbi (“jee-OH-bee”), American artist and cookbook author
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2020, and the subtitle is Choose It, Shape It, Love It.
Michael is the perfect author for this book since he owns and runs his own Bonsai nursery in Germany. In this book, Michael walks us through everything we need to know about bonsai. He profiles 40 classic bonsai trees, and he provides step-by-step directions to over twenty different bonsai techniques and styles.
This book is 144 pages of a bonsai masterclass - teaching you how to care for and maintain a beautiful tree of your own.
You can get a copy of Happy Bonsai by Micheal Tran and support the show using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $7
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
April 5, 1913
Today is the birthday of one of Britain's pioneering female journalists and a marvelous garden author Anne Scott-James.
In 1934, Anne started out as a secretary at Vogue before rising through the ranks to become the Beauty Editor.
After a brilliant career in journalism - including stints at Harper’s Bazaar and the Daily Mail, Anne became a garden writer. Her books included The Best Plants For Your Garden, The Pleasure Garden, Down to Earth, and Sissinghurst: The Making of a Garden.
Regarding Sissinghurst, Anne wrote,
Sissinghurst is the last cottage garden made on a grand scale, but fortunately, it does not mark the end of cottage gardening.
Both of Anne’s children followed in her footsteps and ended up in journalism. Anne’s daughter Clare Hastings also became a garden writer, and she is the author of Gardening Notes from a Late Bloomer. She also wrote a memoir of her mother that was released in 2020 called Hold the Front Page!: The Wit and Wisdom of Anne Scott-James.
It was Anne Scott-James who wrote,
However small your garden, you must provide for two of the serious gardener's necessities, a tool shed, and a compost heap.
To pick a flower is so much more satisfying than just observing it or photographing it ... So in later years, I have grown in my garden as many flowers as possible for children to pick.
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