Today we celebrate an old account of Tripoli gardens.
We’ll remember a botanist, naturalist, and author who believed in the power of walking.
We hear an excerpt from a book by author Susan Wiggs.
We Grow That Garden Library™ with a wonderful book about small garden design.
And then we’ll wrap things up with a novelist who found his own garden paradise in the Cotswolds.
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June 21, 1535
Today is the birthday of the German physician, botanist, and traveler Leonhard Rauwolf.
For two years, between 1573 and 1575, he made a trip through the Near east to search for new herbal medicines. When he returned, he published a book with new botanical descriptions for his herbarium, and he later wrote a travel book about his adventures.
Here is an excerpt from Rauwolff's description of Tripoli in Lebanon:
“The town of Tripoli is pretty large, full of people, and of good account, because of the great deposition of merchandises that are brought thither daily both by sea and land. It is situated in a pleasant country, near the promontory of the high mountain Libanus, in a great plain toward the sea-shore, where you may see an abundance of vineyards, and very fine gardens, enclosed with hedges for the most part, the hedges consisting chiefly of Rhamnus, Paliurus, Oxyacantha, Phillyrea, Lycium, Balaustium, Rubus, and little Palm-trees, that are low, and so sprout and spread themselves. In these gardens, as we came in, we found all sorts of salads and kitchen-herbs, such as Endive, Lettuce, Ruckoli, Asparagus, Celery,... Tarragon..., Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Turnips, Horseradishes, Carrots, of the greater sort of Fennel, Onions, Garlic, etc. And also fruit, as Water-melons, Melons, Gourds, Citruls, Melongena, Sesamum (by the natives called samsaim, the seeds whereof are very much used to strew upon their bread) and many more; but especially the Colocasia, which is very common there, and sold all the year long.... In great plenty there are citrons, lemons and oranges.... At Tripoli they have no want of water, for several rivers flow down from the mountains, and run partly through the town, and partly through the gardens, so that they want no water neither in the gardens nor in their houses.”
June 21, 1898
Today is the birthday of American botanist, naturalist, and author, Donald Culross Peattie.
During his lifetime, Donald was regarded as the most read nature writer in America. He wrote about plants and nature. His book, Flowering Earth, was written for the layperson - explaining concepts like chlorophyll and protoplasm and specimens like algae and seaweeds. The Hartford Times said this about Peattie's Flowering Earth:
"Peattie makes the story of botany and its pursuit as fascinating to the reader as it is to him, and the reading of it a delight."
Over time, Peattie began to focus on trees. His popular books on North American trees include Trees You Want to Know (1934), The Road of a Naturalist (1941), American Heartwood (1949), A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America (1950), and A Natural History of Western Trees (1953).
From his book American Heartwood, Donald wrote,
“Wood, if you stop to think of it, has been man’s best friend in the world. It held him in his cradle, went to war as the gunstock in his hand, was the frame of the bed he came to rejoicing, the log upon his hearth when he was cold, and will make him his last long home. It was the murmuring bough above his childhood play, and the roof over the first house he called his own. It is the page he is reading at this moment; it is the forest where he seeks sanctuary from a stony world.”
Peattie's writing voice is friendly and lyrical. He wrote,
"I have often started off on a walk in the state called mad-mad in the sense of sore-headed, or mad with tedium or confusion; I have set forth dull, null and even thoroughly discouraged. But I never came back in such a frame of mind, and I never met a human being whose humor was not the better for a walk."
And he wrote,
"All the great naturalists have been habitual walkers, for no laboratory, no book, car, train or plane takes the place of honest footwork for this calling, be it amateur's or professional's."
She pulled up to the curb in front of number 115, a boxy house with a garden so neat that people sometimes slowed down to admire it. A pruned hedge guarded the profusion of roses that bloomed from spring to winter. Each of the roses had a name. Not the proper name of its variety, but Salvatore, Roberto, Rosina- each one planted in honor of their first communion. There were also roses that honored relatives in Italy whom Rosa had never met, and a few for people she didn't know - La Donna, a scarlet beauty, and a coral floribunda whose name she couldn't remember.
The sturdy bush by the front step, covered in creamy-white blooms, was the Celesta, of course. A few feet away was the one Rosa, a six-year-old with a passion for Pepto-Bismol pink, had chosen for herself. Mamma had been so proud of her that day, beaming down like an angel from heaven. It was one of those memories Rosa cherished because it was so clear in her heart and mind.
― Susan Wiggs, American author of historical and contemporary romance novels, Summer by the Sea
Grow That Garden Library
This book came out in 2019.
In this book, the Australian designer Paul Bangay known for large, elegant gardens, is now sharing his top tips for designing gardens in small spaces - for people who want beautiful gardens on balconies, courtyards, lightwells, or rooftops.
As with large gardens, garden design fundamentals like — incorporating structure and smart plant selection. Small Garden Design focuses on tips for working with various spaces and is gorgeously illustrated with photos by Simon Griffiths.
This book is 272 pages of small garden design loaded with practical tips on plant choices, paving, irrigation, soil, outdoor dining, lighting, and ideas for making small spaces appear larger.
Today’s Botanic Spark
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
June 21, 1948
Today is the birthday of the Scottish novelist Ian McEwan (“Muh-Cue-in”).
Ian has written short stories and novels for adults and a children's novel called The Daydreamer, which Anthony Browne illustrated.
In 2012, he and his wife, the writer Annalena McAfee, bought a beautiful nine-acre dream property in the Cotswolds. One of their gardens features foxgloves and iris, lady’s mantle, allium, and meadow rue.
Ian’s best-selling 2001 novel Atonement was made into a movie starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in 2007.
A passage from the book reads,
“It made no sense, she knew, arranging flowers before the water was in — but there it was; she couldn't resist moving them around, and not everything people did could be in a correct, logical order, especially when they were alone.”
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