Today we celebrate one of the most prolific garden writers of the 1800s.
We'll also learn about a Hollywood legend who ate roses...
We hear an adorable poem about the crocus.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that helps us make our own little piece of heaven here on earth in the form of a garden.
And then we’ll wrap things up with a living legacy - a garden - that honors the memory of a trailblazing first lady.
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April 8, 1783
Today is the birthday of the Scottish author, garden designer, and botanist John Claudius Loudon.A massively popular and breathtakingly prolific writer on horticulture, John focused on serving the expanding middle class’s needs who wanted to have smaller gardens. 1838, Loudon wrote a book called The Suburban Gardener and Villa Companion,
“A suburban residence with a small portion of land attached will contain all that is essential to happiness."
John Loudon created and published a magazine called The Gardener’s Magazine. It started out as quarterly publication. The first issue sold 4,000 copies. It soon became bi-monthly. John used the platform to introduce a new landscape perspective which he called “gardenesque.”
Before John, the prevailing landscape style was the “picturesque” view. In contrast with the big picture or natural perspective of the picturesque garden style, John wanted to draw attention to individual specimens - isolating them by removing surrounding plants or by using geometrical beds. During John’s time, exotic plants were the rage, and a controlled garden was the best way to feature specimen plants.
John's "Gardenesque style” or The Plant Collector’s Garden with formal features and botanical variety was very popular with Victorian gardens. Loudon favored circular beds, which can still be seen in the flower garden at Greenwich Park because they show plants so well and because they are instantly 'recognizable' as man’s work.
John Loudon said,
“Any creation to be recognized as a work of art must be such as can never be mistaken for a work of nature.”
John invented the term “arboretum” - a garden of trees designed for scientific and educational purposes. He also had some thoughts about the value of public green spaces or “breathing zones” in cities.
John married writer Jane Webb. Jane was indispensable to him. After an attack of rheumatic fever in 1806, John suffered from reduced mobility in his limbs. In 1825, his right arm had to be amputated at the shoulder without anesthesia. Around midnight on December 14, 1843, John was dictating a book to his wife when he collapsed into her arms and died. The book was called, Self-instruction to Young Gardeners.
April 8, 1892
Today is the birthday of America's sweetheart, Hollywood legend, and lover of trees, Mary Pickford, born Gladys Marie Smith.
Jump on Twitter, search for “Mary Pickford Tree,” and you’ll see images of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford planting a tree at their PickFair estate. #ArborDay
Mary Pickford was the first to plant a tree, a Japanese cedar, in the Forest of Fame at the California Botanic Garden.
Trivia/Folklore says that Mary Pickford used to eat Flowers - especially roses. Thought that they'd make her beautiful, and they did,
Katie Melua sang a song called Mary Pickford which starts,
Used to eat roses
Thinking they'd make her Beautiful,
and they did-
Apparently, Mary did indeed use to eat roses to make herself look more beautiful.
Mary Pickford reveals in her autobiography, Sunshine and Shadow, that as a young girl living in Toronto, she would buy a single rose and eat the petals, believing the beauty, color, and perfume would somehow get inside her.
Mary also gifted leading man John Gilbert a bench for his garden.
It was Mary Pickford who said,
"I do not cry easily when seeing a picture, but after seeing [Charles Chaplin's] A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923), I was all choked up - I wanted to go out in the garden and have it out by myself. Our cook felt the same way."
First, a howling blizzard woke us,
Then the rain came down to soak us,
And now before the eye can focus –
– Lilja Rogers, 1901-1998, New Hampshire poet
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2014, and the subtitle is Designing Serene Spaces for Inspiration and Reflection.
Jan is one of my favorite modern garden writers. Jan is a fellow garden geek and has logged forty years in garden design - helping people create the gardens of their dreams. Thus, Jan has this tremendous breadth of experience when it comes to gardens. Now what's fantastic about this particular book is that Jan is sharing the secrets to making your garden a heavenly place to relax and your spirit. To do this, Jan focuses on three aspects of heavenly Gardens: simplicity, sanctuary, and delight.
As someone who's helped thousands of people create the garden of their dreams, Jan understands the magic that can happen when certain elements are incorporated into the garden. Jan writes about tiny spaces that she calls power spots that are incredibly restorative and grounding.
As a designer, Jan understands the Allure of something she calls the sheltered corner and how certain trees are especially good at creating a restful atmosphere. Boundaries are essential in gardens, so Jan spends time talking about fencing and pads and why east-facing garden gates are exceptionally welcoming. Other garden elements that help create a Heavenly Garden include water, color, and stone.
Finally, Jan Johnson writes beautiful books that speak directly to a gardener’s heart. And, if you'd like to connect with Jan or read more about her work, you should check out her blog called Serenity in the Garden - it's a beautiful little space to draw a garden inspiration online.
This book is 160 pages of how to create your own little heaven here on earth through the transformative power of a garden.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
April 8, 1918
Today is the birthday of the beloved First Lady Betty Ford.
As a woman, Betty Ford consistently defied the odds. She was a dancer; she loved to have fun. She was an incredible trailblazer and very open about her struggles with alcohol and breast cancer. She revolutionized addiction treatment and opened her own center for treatment while she was in the middle of working on her own recovery.
Today’ the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is a fitting living tribute to this wonderful woman. Known as Vail’s Alpine Treasure, the garden was founded in 1985 by the Vail Alpine Garden Foundation. In 1988, it was renamed in honor of former first lady Betty Ford.
This special place is located in Ford Park right next to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater–named in honor of her husband, the 38th president of the United States.
Over the years, the Betty Ford Alpine Garden has evolved to comprise four distinct sections; Mountain Perennial Garden (1989), Mountain Meditation Garden (1991), Alpine Rock Garden (1999), & the Children’s Garden (2002.)
Today, over 3,000 species of high-altitude plants play host to children’s programs, horticultural therapy activities, and numerous partnerships and conservation initiatives.
In 1991, Betty said,
“When I was a little girl, I spent many cherished hours with my mother in her garden. She wisely marked off an area for my very own plants. As we worked together, she nurtured me as she nurtured my love of gardening. This nurturing mother-daughter relationship, with its love growing strong in a garden, has been passed along to my daughter, Susan, and her two girls.
When we first talked of plans for the Vail Alpine Gardens, I never dreamed it would grow and flourish to such magnitude. But as each season brings new blooms and greater beauty to the gardens, they become a source of infinite pride & pleasure for all of us,” Mrs. Ford said. “I visit as often as I can, but it is never often enough. Each week provides a different, more beautiful picture.
As someone who has always loved gardening, it fills me with a great sense of serenity. Just walking along these winding paths, with the abundance of beauty so close to the touch, brings an introspection & sense of calm too often missing in our lives.”
In September of 2019, the Denver Botanic Garden tweeted,
“Colorado's alpine plants are impacted form climate change. With Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, we are finalizing the North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Alpine Plant Conservation to serve as a blueprint for protecting these fragile species in the U.S. and Canada.“
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