Nov 21, 2019
Today we celebrate the botanist who named the very first
plant for his mentor Carl Linnaeus, and we celebrate the 160th
birthday of one of the country's wealthiest orchidologists and the
founder of the Amerian Orchid Society.
We'll hear some garden poetry on leaves and November.
We Grow That Garden Library with a book from one of my all-time favorite authors who wrote a history of vegetables.
I'll talk about tidying up after the garden dies back, and we'll celebrate a sweet story about the very first TV gardening show that debuted on BBC 83 years ago today.
But first, let's catch up on a few recent events.
Dancing with bees | Bridget Strawbridge Howard
Bridget Strawbridge Howard has written a new book that is truly lovely.
Here is the origin story for it:
"Brigit Strawbridge Howard was shocked the day she realized she knew more about the French Revolution than she did about her native trees. The thought stopped her—quite literally—in her tracks. But that day was also the start of a journey, one filled with silver birches and hairy-footed flower bees, skylarks, and rosebay willow herb, and the joy that comes with deepening one’s relationship with place. Dancing with Bees is Strawbridge Howard’s charming and eloquent account of a return to noticing, to rediscovering a perspective on the world that had somehow been lost to her for decades and to reconnecting with the natural world. With special care and attention to the plight of pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees, and solitary bees, and what we can do to help them, Strawbridge Howard shares fascinating details of the lives of flora and fauna that have filled her days with ever-increasing wonder and delight."
"Many species of native bees lay their eggs in the cavities of
stems or rotting wood: some excavate pith-filled stems while others
make their home in pre-existing cavities in rotting wood. According
to Heather Holm, in her excellent book Bees, An Identification, and
Native Plant Forage Guide, it is important to leave the garden
alone in the fall and throughout winter. And because some native
bees reuse these cavities in the spring, they should remain intact
year-round. Holm explains, “Then in the spring, cut off the top of
the old stems about 15″ above the ground, leaving flower stalk
stubble. No further maintenance is required. Within a few weeks,
new growth from the perennials hides the dry stems, and within a
year or two, the stems naturally breakdown.”
Now, if you'd like to check out these curated articles for yourself, you're in luck - because I share all of it with the Listener Community in the Free Facebook Group - The Daily Gardener Community.
There’s no need to take notes or track down links - the next time you're on Facebook, just search for Daily Gardener Community and request to join. I'd love to meet you in the group.
#OTD Today is the anniversary of the death of the Dutch botanist Jan Frederik Gronovius who died on this day in 1762.
Gronovius's story is inextricably bound to the Virginia botanist John Clayton.
Clayton botanized Virginia. In the early 1700s, Clayton sent specimens to Gronovius both directly and indirectly through the English naturalist Mark Catesby.
Gronovius was a little in over his head as he attempted to make sense of the overwhelm ing amount of specimens from Clayton. So, he did what most of us would do. He asked for help - and he got it from Carl Linnaeus.
In a brazen move, Gronovius used Clayton's specimens and documentation to put together a Flora of Virginia in 1739. He published the work without notifying Clayton, and he certainly didn't see his permission before he started the endeavor.
Other than the Clayton situation, Gronovius is remembered for the many plants that he named.
After seeing the twinflower, it was Gronovius who suggested naming the plant after Linneus. Without Gronovius, Linnaeus probably wouldn't have a plant named for him during his lifetime - he was very modest about it. And, bless his heart, Gronovius was sensitive to Linnaeus's need to keep the honorary naming low key. So Gronovius wrote that,
"[The Twinflower was] "a plant of #Lapland, lowly, insignificant, disregarded, flowering but for a brief space - after Linnaeus who resembles it."
Thus, the Twinflower is the only plant named for the Father of Taxonomy and has the botanical name is Linnea Borealis.
Another plant that Gronovius named was the genus Gerbera which was named after the German botanist Traugott Gerber.
Finally, In 1739, It was Gronovius Who combined the words for water and jug - hydro and angeion. Put them together, and you get hydrangea (or water jug).
#OTD Today is the birthday of the orchidologist Albert Cameron Burrage who was born on this day in 1859.
Burrage had a passion for orchids, exceptionally rare orchids.
In 1922, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society rewarded him with the George R White medal for his outstanding collection of exotic orchid. Three years later, he received the Lindley Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society in England.
And, Burrage was the founding president of the American Orchid Society, where he served for eight years until his health no longer allowed him to work.
Now, growing exotic orchids can be a costly hobby. But, luckily, Burrage was a self-made man, and his story is jaw-dropping.
After getting a law degree from Harvard University, Burrage went to work for the Brookline gaslight company in the early 1890s. In a stroke of genius and probably luck, he discovered a little legal loophole that allowed the company to extend gas lines into the city of Boston. It earned Burrage a windfall - almost $1 million -, and he went on to have a series of successful positions with gaslight companies. His success was life-changing.
Burrage enjoyed his wealth. He lived in a gothic French chateau-style home. The exterior contained nearly fifty gargoyles and over three hundred bibliophiles, dragons, demons, cherubs, chimeras, and snakes in the carved exquisitely into the stonework.
And get this: when you walked into the house, the foyer opened into a large room with mahogany-carved paneled walls, a gold-gilded ceiling, stained glass windows, imposing fireplace, and a huge crystal chandelier.
And, here's the part gardeners will love. Burrage had an Orchid Room. His extraordinary collection lived in a glass-plated conservatory complete with a wall lined entirely with coral. It was an opulent home for his many exotic blooms. By 1922, Burrage had put together the most extensive private collection of tropical orchids in the world—over 1200 plants.
When he died in 1931, Burrage had been president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for ten years.
The longstanding secretary of the Society and garden writer, Edward Irving Farrington, paid tribute to Burrage, saying:
"Probably no other man has done so much to popularize the orchid in America. The present prosperity of the American Orchid Society is due largely to his efforts."
#OTD Today is the birthday of the diplomat Harold Nicolson who was born on this day in 1886.
"Trying to convince [Vita] that planning is an element in gardening…She wishes just to jab in things which she has leftover. The tragedy of the romantic temperament is that it dislikes form so much that it ignores the effect of masses.”
"How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.
At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow."
- Elsie N. Brady, Leaves
So dull and dark are the November days.
The lazy mist high up the evening curled,
And now the morn quite hides in smoke and haze;
The place we occupy seems all the world."
- John Clare, November
My father grew lush fruit and vegetables for a hungry family in our garden during the privations following the Second World War, and ever since I have taken a keen interest in the history, provenance, cultivation, and eating of home-grown food—evenwhenworkinginLondon, where my "garden" was a single north-facing window box—growing, I recall, some excellent French tarragon. Alas, there was no Lorraine Harrison to guide me in those days, but gardeners finding themselves similarly lusting after fresh vegetables will glean much from these pages.
Today's Garden Chore
As your garden dies back, it's time to tidy up.
Right now, your garden is revealing the structures and knick-knacks that have served their time.
You also get a real sense of the bones of your garden.
If you've had a hard time editing some of the items you've placed in your garden over the years, take a moment to do a quick tidy up now. During the gray days of November, items that are sun-faded are easy to spot. So are the broken pieces of pottery or furniture. Are there birdhouses that are beyond saving? Is there a build-up of items that are no longer life-giving to you?
So, if you’re thinking of adding structural improvements in the spring, like installing a new path or building a fence, now’s the perfect time to cull out the old, worn, or unhappy items that have accumulated in the garden.
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart
Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."