Today we celebrate a botanist remembered with the Haworthia (“how-wurth-EE-ah”) genus.
We'll also learn about a botanist who spent 25 years researching the forests of the Eastern United States.
We’ll hear about the Greek goddess of spring from author Jen Calonita.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about flower arranging.
And then we’ll wrap things up with National Garlic Day.
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April 19, 1797
Today is the birthday of the British entomologist and botanist Adrian Hardy Haworth.
Adrian was trained to be a lawyer, but once he inherited his family’s estate, he devoted himself to the study of natural sciences.
Today, the Haworthia genus described by French botanist, Henri Auguste Duval, honors Adrian. The genus consists of around 200 species. Today, Haworthias are very popular. These plants are native to South Africa, and they are succulents. These plants range in color from transparent green to all shades of purple - and even black. Haworthias vary in shape and texture, and they are very popular succulents.
Now, one of the most popular Haworthias is the Haworthia Fasciata or the Zebra Succulent. Known for its zebra stripes, this succulent has green pointy leaves with bumps of white tubercles arranged in a zebra pattern. And one of the reasons that the zebra succulent is so popular is that it is so easy to grow - and this plant is ubiquitous; it is everywhere. You can even find it in all the major big box stores.
Adrian is also remembered for his work as an entomologist. In the early 1800s, Adrian wrote one of the most authoritative works on British butterflies and moths. His book was called Lepidoptera Britannica. In his lifetime, Adrian named 22 new genus of moths. And he was also a carcinologist or shrimp expert.
And finally, Adrian was also the first person to describe the Epiphyllum oxypetalum - commonly known as the Dutchman's Pipe Cactus, Queen of the Night, or Night-Blooming Cereus.
April 19, 1889
Today is the birthday of botanist, ecologist, and expert on deciduous forests of the eastern United States E. Lucy Braun.
The "E" stood for Emma, but she always went by Lucy. In 1950, Lucy was the first woman elected president of the Ecological Society of America. A quiet, bright, and dedicated field scientist, Lucy worked as a botany professor at the University of Cincinnati.
Lucy became interested in the outdoors as a child. Growing up on May Street in Cincinnati, Lucy's parents would take her and her older sister, Annette, by horse-drawn streetcar to the woods in Rose Hill so they could spend time botanizing. The girls were taught to identify wildflowers by their mother, and they also gathered specimens for their mother's herbarium.
The girls both got Ph.D.'s - Lucy in botany, Annette in Zoology - and they never married. Instead, they lived together with their entire lives, leaving their childhood May street for a home in Mount Washington. The sisters turned the upstairs of the house into a laboratory, and the gardens around the house became their laboratory. Now Lucy was a go-getter. At the age of 80, Lucy was still leading people on field trips in Ohio.
Friends of Lucy have recounted,
"To be with her in the field was something. She made everything so real, so exciting she was just so knowledgeable."
"She loved to be out in the field; rain wouldn't stop her. She could walk forever."
Lucy Braun said,
"Only through close and reverent examination of nature can humans understand and protect its beauties and wonders."
When asked about her time in the field, Lucy would happily recount how she had managed to dodge moonshiner stills in the hills of Kentucky and how she gathered up plant specimens previously unseen by the botanists of her time.
Lucy had a tremendous dedication to her work as a botanist. Over a period of 25 years, she drove over 65,000 miles to study the forests of the eastern United States. Lucy’s heart truly belonged to the forests, and her book, Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America, is still regarded as a definitive text.
When she died of heart failure in March 1971, at the age of 81, Lucy was one of the top three ecologists In the United States. After her death, her herbarium of nearly 12,000 specimens was acquired by the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
Her mother, Demeter, may have handled some of the harvests and the soil's fertility, but making the world bloom fell to Persephone.
Every spring equinox, she'd wander into the orchards and the meadows and put her personal touch on all that came alive. She made the yellow grass turn green with envy. She coaxed every poppy and asphodel bud to awaken from their slumber and shower the landscape in color.
She made sure the olive groves flourished and the figs ripened with honey-like nectar so that the smell of them baking wafted up to Mount Olympus.
― Jen Calonita, American author, Go the Distance
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2020, and the subtitle is Easy Techniques and Everyday Ideas for Inspiring Flower Arrangements.
In this book, Cynthia shares tips and tutorials for how to create gorgeous designs with beautiful flowers. Whether you’re a designer, a gardener, or simply want to make gorgeous bouquets, Cynthia’s book shares the secrets to flower arranging.
Cynthia teaches popular aspects of arranging, like repurposing everyday containers in unexpected ways - and using rubber bands and tape to spectacular effect.
Cynthia also offers ten easy techniques and twenty featured bouquets along with step-by-step instructions. She also teaches how to extend the lifespan of wilting flowers.
This book is 128 pages of simple techniques and easy ideas for flower arrangements you can create in minutes.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Today is National Garlic Day. It is observed every year on April 19th.
Garlic, or stinking rose, is a member of the lily family. Onions, leeks, and shallots are also in the family. Wild garlic or ransoms are returning to the woodlands, hedgerows, and riverbanks this time of year.
Wild garlic is also called bear's garlic. Folklore says that bears eat Wild Garlic after hibernation. However, if cows graze on Wild Garlic, it will taint the milk with garlic flavor. Finally, Wild Garlic is a favorite foraged seasonal ingredient of top chefs.
And it's not just a foundational ingredient for cooking - garlic is also used for medicinal purposes.
Garlic has antibiotic properties, and it also helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Herbalists recommend garlic as a remedy for colds.
Today, Gilroy, California, is known as the Garlic Capital of the World.
The American cowboy and actor, Will Rogers, said this about Gilroy:
“…the only place in America where you can marinate a steak just by hanging it out on a clothesline.”
Atlas Obscura wrote an article in 2019 about Gilroy. They featured Gilroy's unique recipes for garlic ice cream, saying,
"The dessert divides ice-cream lovers."
Well, that is not hard to imagine.
An online reviewer mediated the matter with this comment,
"Actually the garlic ice cream is pretty good. But a little does go a long way."
In case you're wondering, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is held every year in July.
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