Today we celebrate a Canadian conservationist and author.
We'll also learn about a pioneering Belgian-American gardener, poet, and novelist.
We hear an excerpt about how poets find inspiration in nature.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a cookbook that shows how to prepare beautiful meals with fewer ingredients and offers foolproof meal-prepping and effortless entertaining.
And then we’ll wrap things up with the story of a brand new gazebo in a community garden.
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May 3, 1904
Today is the birthday of the naturalist and conservationist Charles Joseph Sauriol.
An esteemed son of Toronto, Charles worked to preserve natural areas in Canada. He was primarily devoted to the forests and waterways of Ontario, including his beloved Don River Valley - where his family had a cottage.
Even as a teenager, Charles loved the Don, writing in an unpublished manuscript:
“The perfume I liked was the smell of a wood fire.... The dance floor I knew best was a long carpet of Pine needles.”
In 1927 Charles purchased the 40-hectare property at the Forks of the Don, which would become his second home. The Sauriol family cottage became the place that Charles and his wife and their four children would stay over the long months of the summer. Life at the cottage was elemental and straightforward. Charles tapped the maple trees for syrup and kept beehives near his cottage. The family also had ducks, a goat, and a pet raccoon named Davy, who followed Charles around like a dog.
“In the '20s and 30s, entire slopes of the East Don Valley...were carpeted with flowering trilliums in the spring. It was an unforgettable sight… A woodland without wildflowers is as empty and desolate in some respects as a community without children."
During 2018 the Toronto Archives shared many of Charles’s charming diary entries on their Twitter feed. The Toronto Archives is the repository for the Charles Sauriol record and it consists of diaries, manuscripts, subject files, and over 3,000 photos.
Charles kept a lifelong diary. At the Don cottage, Charles created a little woodland garden. Many of his diary entries share his gardening adventures and philosophies on plants, like this one from 1938:
"I find it hard to come in from the flower borders. My Pansies are a garden of enchantment in themselves. People who love Pansies should grow them from seed. I took the advice, and I have never had such a profusion of bloom and of so many colors."
"One particular toad has taken quite a fancy to the Wild Flower garden. His den is alongside the Hepatica plant. There he sits, half-buried, and blinks up at me while I shower water on him."
At the end of his first summer at the cottage in Don Valley, Charles wrote about leaving the place he loved so much:
With summer’s heat, the weeks sped by,
And springtime streams did all but dry.
But days grew short and followed on,
Oh, blissful memory of the Don.
Of you, we think with saddened heart,
Our time is up, and we must part.
Today the annual Charles Sauriol Leadership Award recognizes people who make lasting contributions to conservation.
May 3, 1912
Today is the birthday of the prolific writer and poet May Sarton.
She came out in 1965 after her parents died. The decision impacted her career.
May’s writing centers on our humanity, our relationships with ourselves and others, our values, and mindfulness. In a 1983 profile in The New York Times, May said,
“I make people think, 'I have flowers in my house, why don't I look at them?' The thing that is peaceful for me is that I feel I have helped people. I'm constantly told, 'You've said the things I've wanted to say.'”
Margaret Roach writes about discovering May Sarton this way:
“She actually came to my attention thanks to two men, at different times in my life. I might have missed her altogether if not for a one-two punch by Sydney Schanberg, an ex-New York Times colleague who, thirty-odd years ago, offhandedly said, “You would like May Sarton,” and then years later my therapist gave me “Journal of a Solitude”... They knew that the natural world, and specifically the garden, called to me, as it did Sarton.”
May wrote :
“A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.”
May’s tiny home in Nelson, New Hampshire, was her happy place. She had a garden which she loved, and she cared for many houseplants.
She once wrote these relatable garden witticisms:
“I am not a greedy person except about flowers and plants, and then I become fanatically greedy.”
“True gardeners cannot bear a glove Between the sure touch and the tender root.”
And some of her thoughts on gardening are prayerlike:
“Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers.”
“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”
The seasonal urge is strong in poets.
Milton wrote chiefly in winter.
Keats looked for spring to wake him up (as it did in the miraculous months of April and May 1819).
Burns chose autumn.
Longfellow liked the month of September.
Shelley flourished in the hot months.
Some poets, like Wordsworth, have gone outdoors to work.
Others, like Auden, keep to the curtained room.
Schiller needed the smell of rotten apples about him to make a poem. Tennyson and Walter de la Mare had to smoke.
Auden drinks lots of tea, Spender coffee; Hart Crane drank alcohol. Pope, Byron, and William Morris were creative late at night.
And so it goes.
― Helen Bevington, American poet, prose author, and educator, When Found, Make a Verse of
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in October of 2019, and the subtitle is More Than 125 Recipes for Instant, Overnight, Meal-Prepped, and Easy Comfort Foods: A Cookbook.
In this New York Times Best-Selling cookbook, Tieghan delights and tempts us with comfort food - much of it made with ingredients fresh from the garden - in her Half Baked Harvest Super Simple.
Tieghan is known for her blog, where she effortlessly shows how to make beautiful food for your family. Her Super Simple versions of her famous recipes are distilled into quicker, more manageable dishes. Tieghan includes one-pot meals, night-before meal prep, and even some Instant Pot® or slow cooker recipes. Highlights for family meals include everyday dishes like Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese and Lobster Tacos. And Tieghan’s stress-free dinner party recipes include Slow Roasted Moroccan Salmon and Fresh Corn and Zucchini Summer Lasagna.
Tieghan’s cookbook was named one of the best cookbooks of the year by Buzzfeed and Food Network.
This book is 288 pages of the 125 easy, show-stopping recipes - each with fewer ingredients, foolproof meal-prepping, and effortless entertaining.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Today at the Grow Regina Yara community garden, a gazebo, designed by Victor Cicansky, will be installed.
Two years ago, the Regina community garden received a $90,000 grant from Federated Co-op.
Grow Regina wanted to add a gazebo to the community garden for many years. The garden is a unique space in that it offered the community a place to grow and a place to admire art. The garden features a variety of art pieces, including two massive sculptures installed in August of 2010 that frame the entrance to the garden by local artist Victor Cicansky.
Gardens have been a consistent theme in Victor’s life. His 2019 memoir, Up From Garlic Flats, is set in the east end of the community in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Victor’s father came from Romania, and his Romanian ancestors were gardeners. To Victor, the garden is a place of endless inspiration. Much of Victor’s work features garden tools like shovels and spades, along with aspects of nature like roots and trees. Victor even incorporates garden imagery from fruit, vegetables, and canning jars in his creations.
An article featured in the Regina Post from June 2019 said one of Victor’s pieces called “Compost Shovel” featured,
“A gigantic blue ceramic shovel covered in vegetables, eggshells, and soil.”
Today, the installation of the gazebo today marks the beginning of a new chapter for the garden. Once the install is completed later this week, the gazebo will host numerous functions.
And to give you an idea of how beautiful Victor's artistic gazebo is: Imagine a gazebo that has sculpted trees with branches for support beams and a canopy of leaves for a roof. And then the railing of the gazebo features the garden harvest - all kinds of vegetables.
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