August 2, 2020 How to Brighten Up the Garden with Hollyhocks, Thomas Gainsborough, Hawaii’s First Potato, John Bartram, Wallace Stevens, August Weather Folklore, How They Decorated by P. Gaye Tapp and Charlotte Moss, and Andrea Brunsendorf’s Container


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By Jennifer Ebeling. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Today we remember the master landscape and portrait painter who grew up with a magnificent mulberry tree. We learn about the planting of the first potato in Hawaii, and the discovery of a tree named for Benjamin Franklin. We also remember the poet who was inspired not by his day job at an insurance company, but by a beautiful park that was across the street from his house. We review some August Weather Folklore - and all I have to say is you might want to grab your coat. We Grow That Garden Library™ with a book that lets us drop in on some of the most beautiful spaces on the planet. And then we'll wrap things up with a little post about a gorgeous garden at Longwood. But first, let's catch up on some Greetings from Gardeners around the world, and today's curated news. Subscribe Apple | Google | Spotify | Stitcher | iHeart Gardener Greetings To participate in the Gardener Greetings segment, send your garden pics, stories, birthday wishes, and so forth to And, to listen to the show while you're at home, just ask Alexa or Google to play The Daily Gardener Podcast. It's that easy. Curated News Cheery Hollyhocks Brighten Up the Garden | Southern Living These vibrant blooming stalks can reach heights of 8 feet. Here's an excerpt: "In summer, we can't get enough of hollyhocks. These plants are long-blooming summer flowers that appear in spikes of bright blossoms. Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) are cottage garden favorites because of their appearance and extended bloom time. The warm-weather bloomers are low-maintenance plantings and make great additions to cut flower gardens. They're also known to attract birds to the garden." These perennials and biennials thrive in the sun and in the right conditions will grow to heights of 3 to 8 feet and widths of 1 to 3 feet. Their dramatic heights make an impact in mass plantings and can create magical effects in the garden. They're also capable of acting as privacy plantings. Hollyhocks are beautiful when planted in en masse in one color or in a variety of colors. They're vibrant and welcoming and can add a cheery note to backyard gardens and front-yard designs. (Hello, curb appeal!) The foliage of hollyhocks is bright green, sometimes in shades of blue-green, and the flowers appear in a rainbow of colors including red, white, pink, purple, yellow, and blue. Foliage surrounds the base of the plant and appears on stems higher up the center stalk. When it's time to bloom, the flowering stalks are covered in buds, and the blooms begin to unfurl, opening from the bottom and emerging gradually up the stalk. In regard to care, usually, you'll have to wait a year after first planting to enjoy hollyhock blooms. Be patient: Once the hollyhocks have spent a year growing, they'll put on a vibrant show. In addition to full sun and regular water, they also appreciate having a support system nearby. The tallest varieties like to be planted against a wall or a fence to keep them growing upright. Some popular selections to plant include 'Chater's Double,' which has peachy-pink, yellow, and white blooms, 'Peaches 'n Dreams,' which has double apricot-hued blooms, and 'Creme de Cassis,' which has vibrant magenta flowers. Did you have hollyhocks in your family garden growing up? Do you want to plant some of these summer blooms in your garden this year?" Link to Pinterest Page on Hollyhock Dolls Alright, that's it for today's gardening news. Now, if you'd like to check out my curated news articles and blog posts 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 search for links - the next time you're on Facebook, search for Daily Gardener Community and request to join. I'd love to meet you in the group. Important Events 1788 Today is the anniversary of the death of the landscape and portrait painter, known for his painting of the Blue Boy, Thomas Gainsborough. Gainsborough is regarded as one of the master Landscape painters. But, he is also remembered for his portraits, which made his subjects look relaxed, natural, and beautiful. Thomas's portraits were a direct result of customer preference, and Thomas's customers were the elite. In fact, his commissioned paintings of King George III and Queen Charlotte made him a favorite with royals. So much so, that after Thomas died at age 61, he was buried in the royal church. Today, you can visit Thomas's house in Sudbury. It has been turned into a charming art center,... and there's also the garden - the garden Thomas grew up in. And, it has a spectacular mulberry tree with falling down branches dating to the early 1600s during the reign of James I, who encouraged the planting of mulberry trees so that he could establish a silk industry. Although England never successfully became known for silkworms, the craft of silk weaving became firmly rooted. The Gainsborough families were weavers. In fact, over 95% of the woven silk in England comes from Sudbury. Now, back when James I and his advisers were trying to get into silk making, they lacked the knowledge about Mulberry trees. There are actually two kinds of Mulberries. The white mulberry tree feeds silkworms, and the black tree supplies the fruit. The Gainsborough Mulberry (as well as every other Mulberry cultivated in England) was the black Mulberry. And this tree, the Gainsborough Mulberry, would have been over a hundred years old when Thomas was born. In addition to the ancient Gainsborough Mulberry, which is regarded as a sentinel tree or a tree that has kept watch for a great many years, the Gainsborough garden includes two beds for Herbs and another that has plants used for dying fabric. There are also beautiful trees such as the medlar, quince, and Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Mollis), which gives some beautiful color and scent to the garden early in the year. The rest of the garden is made up of plants that were available during Thomas's lifetime in the 18th Century. And, Thomas once said, "Nature is my teacher and the woods of Suffolk, my academy." 1820 The first potatoes were planted in Hawaii. It turns out, the American brig, the Thaddeus, brought more than the first missionaries to the island. Four years later, the mango tree would be introduced. By 1828, the first coffee plant would be grown in Kona. It marked the beginning of the Kona Coffee Industry. 1938 The Belvedere Daily Republican, out of Belvedere Illinois, published a small article about a tree named for Benjamin Franklin. Here's what it said: "About 200 years ago, John Bartram, an eminent botanist, discovered a strange flowering tree in a Georgia forest and named it "Franklinia" in honor of his fellow Philadelphian, Benjamin Franklin." The discovery of the Franklinia made John Bartram famous. The Franklinia is in the tea family, and it has blossoms similar to the Camellia. Thirty years after Bartram's discovery, the Franklinia went extinct in the wild - the last one was seen in 1803 - and the only surviving Franklinias are descended from the original seed and the work of Bartram's Garden, North America's oldest botanic garden, who worked to preserve the species. Bartram himself lovingly cultivated the Franklinia. It was Benjamin Franklin who said, "I have thought that wildflowers might be the alphabet of angels." 1955 Today is the anniversary of the death of poet Wallace Stevens Stevens said, "Death is the mother of beauty. Only the perishable can be beautiful, which is why we are unmoved by artificial flowers." Stevens was one of the most skilled poets of the 20th Century. He lived his entire adult life near Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Connecticut. By day, Stevens worked at Hartford insurance company where he became a Vice President, and by night, he was a poet; it was in an unusual combination. Stevens lived two miles from his work, and he walked to work every day, undoubtedly using the time to find inspiration and to write poems. The park across from his house was one of his favorite places. Elizabeth Park is huge, covering over 100 acres with formal gardens, meadows, lawns, greenhouses, and a pond. Stevens wrote the following poems About Elizabeth Park:

  • Vacancy in the Park
  • The Plain Sense of Things
  • Nuns Painting Water Lilies

By 1950, Stevens was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his poetry. And, here's a little known fact about Wallace Stevens: He once started a fist-fight with Ernest Hemingway in Key West. Unearthed Words August Weather Folklore. It's surprising how many August sayings mention winter. Here's some August Weather Folklore: As August, so February. If the first week in August is unusually warm, The winter will be white and long. So many August fogs, so many winter mists For every fog in August, There will be a snowfall in winter. Observe on what day in August the first heavy fog occurs, and expect a hard frost on the same day in October. If a cold August follows a hot July, It foretells a winter hard and dry. In August, thunderstorms after St. Bartholomew (August 24th) are mostly violent. When it rains in August, it rains honey and wine. August is that last flicker of fun and heat before everything fades and dies. The final moments of fun before the freeze. In the winter, everything changes. — Rasmenia Massoud, author and short story writer, August Weather Grow That Garden Library How They Decorated by P. Gaye Tapp and Charlotte Moss This book came out in 2017, and the subtitle is Inspiration from Great Women of the Twentieth Century. "Interior designer and blogger P. Gaye Tapp recollects the lives and impeccably decorated homes of 16 iconic women in her upcoming book, How They Decorated: Inspiration From Great Women of the Twentieth Century." —New York Magazine "In How They Decorated: Inspiration from Great Women of the Twentieth Century, blogger P. Gaye Tapp casts her eyes on the decorating styles of iconic women like Babe Paley, Pauline de Rothschild, Mona Von Bismarck, and Elsa Schiaparelli. Whether these women employed top decorators or executed their homes on their own, the book provides great insights into lives fabulously lived." — "Covering these sixteen elegant women, she shows how they (most, of course, worked with decorators, architects, and designers) orchestrated rooms of great charm, individuality, and style. Tables are lavishly set, bedrooms invite lingering, fashions are paraded. And then, just when the lavish interiors are feeling rather intense, she introduces Georgia O'Keeffe (bold simplicity) and then Lesley Blanche, the ultimate romantic. It's a book to treasure. I love it." —The Style Saloniste Now, this is not a gardening book. But this book is 224 pages of gorgeous decorating and many feature botanicals and indoor gardening that add nature-inspired beauty to these incredible spaces. You can get a copy of How They Decorated by P. Gaye Tapp and Charlotte Moss and support the show, using the Amazon Link in today's Show Notes for around $26. Today'sBotanic Spark A few days ago, Andrea Brunsendorf of Longwood gardens wrote an excellent post about the little Studio Garden and the plants she used to create some of her gorgeous containers. I thought you would love to hear about it. Be sure to read Andrea's full post for more details on additional plants that she loves. If you especially enjoy hearing about plant styling and putting different combinations of plants together, you will particularly enjoy listening to Andrea's post. Here's an excerpt: "As Longwood's Director of Outdoor Landscapes, I am very fortunate that my office opens up to a little patio known as the Studio Garden. This 35-[square]-foot space... centers around a large elliptical concrete pad, surrounded by low stone walls to sit for lunch or lean one's bicycle against before or after it gets you around the gardens in the morning. This beautiful little space serves as a constant reminder that the physical action of gardening is good for us … not just for our bodies, but also for our mental well-being, as it gives our minds a respite. This morning…[as I wrote about my containers,] I was reminded of the basic human need for nurturing something like plants … and the simple pleasure that comes with it. In early June, once all the seasonal change-outs from spring to summer have taken place… you will find me squirreling around, collecting left-over plants to switch out the Studio Garden's seasonal containers from spring bulbs to summer annuals. This year… sparked the idea of creating a calm... interesting space to rest my eyes … and ... meet colleagues for a social-distancing lunch. The mantra I followed while gathering from the surplus plants was looking for green—one of the most diverse, versatile, and beautiful colors in the plant kingdom. I pulled back from intense flower colors and focused on the textures, structures, and foliage of plants by combining those based on harmony and contrast. I looked at the plant's character and habit, beyond their flower color, when assembling them in pots. I should mention that I tend to mass containers and pots together of the same neutral material and similar style but vary their sizes and shapes. For example, I utilize mass groupings of aged concrete containers and groupings of smaller terracotta pots to build my pot compositions in the Studio Garden. In my larger container in the Studio Garden, I have the beloved silver dollar gum (Eucalyptus cinereal) with a purple-leaved shrubby spurge, Caribbean copper-plant (Euphorbia cotinifolia)... [combined with} fine-textured pheasant tail grass (Anemanthele lessoniana). [This is a] grass that I miss so much from my gardening days in London, where of course, it is hardy; [but] here in Pennsylvania, in Zone 6b, we just must enjoy it during the warmer months before the extreme winter colds take it. Honestly, I am not sure how … the pheasant tail grass from New Zealand is going to weather the high humidity combined with summer's heat on my patio, but as gardeners, we should not be afraid to experiment. Trialing new plants, growing them in different conditions, or creating 'unusual' compositions are all worthy ventures. Sometimes a plant fails and doesn't thrive, or the impact of the intended design is not what we hoped for, but in the end, we have learned something, we have grown from that experience, and we have become more knowledgeable and skilled in our art and craft of gardening … all while enjoying that simple human pleasure of caring for plants."

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