May 19, 2021 The Past 40 Years of Garden Design, Catherine Furbish, Emma Genevieve Gillette, Nathaniel Hawthorn, The Sparrow Sisters, Organic Gardening for Everyone by Cali Kim, and Nora Ephron

Show Notes

Today we celebrate an American female botanist who collected the flora of the great state of Maine.

We'll also learn about a Michigan conservationist who is remembered as the First Lady of Michigan State Parks and Natural Areas.

We’ll remember Nathaniel Hawthorne on the anniversary of his death today - and the quirky little story he wrote about a mad scientist and his experiment involving geraniums.

We hear an excerpt about botanically-inspired girl’s names.

We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book about Organic Gardening

And then we’ll wrap things up with the wonderful Nora Ephron and one of her best-loved movie quotes.

 

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Important Events

May 19, 1834
Today is the birthday of the daring self-taught American botanist Catherine Furbish.

Kate is remembered for her life-long work collecting, classifying, and illustrating the flora of the great state of Maine. Kate spent six decades crisscrossing her home state. Her delicate, beautiful, and simple botanical art charms gardeners still today.

Kate grew up in an upper-middle-class home. She attended private school and studied drawing as a child. By the time she was thirty, she had combined her love for flowers and drawing and embarked on a goal of collecting, cataloging, and drawing all the native flora of Maine.

During Kate’s lifetime, Maine was still a rugged and wild place. Her amateur eagerness to explore the forests and wildernesses of Maine put her in direct contrast to the women of her time. Her exemplary fieldwork drew respect from her male counterparts - many of whom worked at the major Universities or scientific centers across the country.

In 1881, after getting a plant named for her, Kate wrote to Sereno Watson at Harvard to acknowledge the honor, saying,

“Were it not for the fact that I can find no plants named for a female botanist in your manual, I should object to “Pedicularis Furbishae”... But as a new species is rarely found in New England and few plants are named for women, it pleases me.”

In 1895, Kate helped found the Josselyn Botanical Society of Maine.

In 1925, her friend “Joss” (Louise Coborn) described Kate as a botanist in her sixties:

“I can see her as I saw her then — a little woman with uplifted head already turned gray, in animated talk, or with bowed face using her keen eyes along a forest trail, or up a mountain path. She had the sort of eyes that were made for seeing, and nothing escaped the swift circle of her glance. Her feet were as untiring as her eyes, and she could out-last many a younger woman on a cliff-side climb or river-bank scramble.”

On September 16, 1978, the New Castle News out of New Castle, PA, shared an article written by Mike Finsilber with a headline that read: Exhibit Depicts Female Scientists. Here’s an excerpt:

"When curator Deborah Warner suggested to her superiors at the Smithsonian Institution that she put together an exhibit documenting the accomplishments of American women in science in the 19th century, her superiors were skeptical.

Women scientists in the 19th century?

Would there be enough of them to fill an exhibit?

They doubted it.

Ms. Warner didn’t.

Yesterday her display opened in the Museum of History and Technology, telling of, among others:

Kate Furbish, the botanist who discovered the now-famous Furbish Lousewort. It is now famous because it is endangered and for a time threatened to block construction of the Lincoln-Dickey Dam in Maine."

 

May 19, 1898
Today is the birthday of the woman known as the First Lady of Michigan State Parks and Natural Areas and the “Mother” of Michigan State Parks system, Emma Genevieve Gillette, who was born in Lansing.

Genevieve learned to love nature from her dad. He would take her into the woods in the spring to see arbutus flowering and the brook running. Genevieve recounted how he would kneel down by the brook and ask,

“Can you hear what it is saying? It’s talking to us.”

In 1920, Genevieve was the only woman to be part of the very first landscape architecture class to graduate from the Michigan Agricultural College. She ended up going to work for the great Landscape Architect Jens Jensen, known as the “Dean of Landscape Architects,” and would become a trusted mentor and lifelong friend to Genevieve. In terms of a role model, Jens was perfect for Genevieve; he was an early pioneer in the conservation movement, used art as activism, and was generally ahead of his time.

Jens once famously said,

“Trees are much like human beings and enjoy each other's company. Only a few love to be alone.”

A contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright, Jens was also a maker of public parks and spaces. Genevieve later said Jens “pestered her” to start a state park system in Michigan.

Genevieve befriended the Michigan Parks Chief Peter J. Hoffmaster, who was one of her old college classmates. Her sincere alliances with state officials helped her garner support to serve as the president of the Michigan Park Association. Genevieve boosted public support and funding for more than 200,000 acres of Michigan’s state and national parks during her tenure, including the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

In the mid-1960s, Genevieve was asked to serve on President Lyndon Johnson’s Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty. It was the honor of her career.

 

May 19, 1864 
Today is the anniversary of the death of the American novelist and short-story writer Nathaniel Hawthorne.

In 1843, Nathaniel wrote a crazy short story about a mad scientist who became obsessed with removing his wife, Georgiana’s birthmark. He decides to repurpose a remedy he created to remove blotches from the leaves of his geraniums. In the end, as his wife drinks the mixture, her birthmark does indeed fade away but so does her life force, and she dies a perfect, unblemished woman.

 

Unearthed Words

Like their mother, Honor Sparrow, dead now for twenty-some years- gone on the very day her youngest daughter, Impatiens, arrived - the sisters had all green thumbs. It was ordained, really. They had each been named after a botanical, mostly flowers, and as their mother kept producing girls, the names became slightly ridiculous. But Honor was a keen gardener and in darkest winter, calling her daughter's names reminded her that spring would come again. For months after her death, the older girls hated their names and all they recalled for them. By the time they founded the Sparrow Sisters Nursery, though, each thoroughly embraced their names as the sign they were.
― Ellen Herrick, American publishing executive and author, The Sparrow Sisters

 

Grow That Garden Library

Organic Gardening for Everyone by Cali Kim

This book came out in 2019, and the subtitle is Homegrown Vegetables Made Easy - No Experience Required!

In this book, Kim shows you just how easy it is to grow healthy vegetables at home - something she started doing in 2012. At the time, Kim approached her desire to garden in a very unique and compelling way: she crowdsourced it! After launching a YouTube channel under the name "CaliKim" (a nod to her California residency) and asking for help from everyday gardeners, Kim started gardening. When questions or problems popped up, Kim found support, advice, information, and connection from her viewers and subscribers. Gradually, she learned to garden, and her garden managed to survive and thrive even under the hot, harsh conditions of the California climate.

Kim’s book is her way of giving back the gardening wisdom she’s accumulated. Now, almost a decade later, Kim answers more garden questions than she asks, and she’s here to help grow more gardeners through her lovely book.

With Kim’s step-by-step encouragement, you’ll realize that anyone can garden and overcome any hesitations that gardening is too hard, intimidating, or time-consuming. With a busy family of her own, she shares her own inspirational story of balancing the garden's demands alongside the demands of a modern, busy California family.

Kim offers friendly and practical advice that celebrates the joy of gardening. She offers her best advice on her passion for organic vegetable gardening.  

This book is 160 pages of garden encouragement, wisdom, and enthusiasm from a California mom who became a passionate modern organic gardener over the past decade.

You can get a copy of Organic Gardening for Everyone by Cali Kim  and support the show using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $5

 

Today’s Botanic Spark

Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

May 19, 1941
Today is the birthday of the New York director and screenwriter Nora Ephron.

Nora was the writer of many favorite movies: When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), and You've Got Mail (1998).

In You’ve Got Mail, Nora wrote one of the most iconic lines about daisies in a scene between the two main characters: Kathleen and Joe.

In the movie, Kathleen Kelly looks at the vase of daisies that Joe sets on the table beside her, and she says,

I love daisies.

And then, Joe Fox replies:

You told me.

Kathleen ignores the clue in Joe’s remark. Now, had she noticed what he just said, she’d realize that he purposefully bought her the daisies because he remembered their very first meeting at her bookstore. During his visit with Annabelle and Matthew, she tells the kids about her handkerchief. (Since they didn’t know what a handkerchief was!) Kathleen tells the kids,

“My mother embroidered this for me - [with] my initials and a daisy because daisies are my favorite flower.”

But Kathleen misses Joe’s comment because he had just set the flowers on the table beside her. At that moment, Kathleen gets distracted by the daisies and caught up in the beauty of the flowers. She offhandedly remarks,

“They’re so friendly. Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?”

At this comment, Joe Fox looks to the side (because at this point he realizes she’s missed the meaning of his earlier comment), and then he simply answers her with,

“I do.”

 

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