March 1st, 2013
The Philadelphia Story

Organic Gardening staff members will be spending a lot of time in the City of Brotherly Love this week, as the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show—the world’s largest indoor flower show—officially opens on Saturday, March 2. If you’re planning to attend the show, be sure to visit the Garden to Table Culinary Studio in Room 204C, where Organic Gardening editors will be emceeing cooking demos by top chefs, and guests receive free swag bags. Also be sure to check out the speakers at the Gardener’s Studio, located on the show floor adjacent to the Hamilton Horticourt, which include Organic Gardening deputy editor Doug Hall. Doug will be discussing “Soil Matters: The Organic Way to a Healthier Garden,” presented by Espoma, on Tuesday March 5 at 7 p.m.

The theme of this year’s flower show is “Brilliant!” All things British will be on display, from a 21-foot-long Union Jack made entirely of plants to a recreation of Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. To pay tribute to the enormous influence that the U.K. has had on American gardening, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has partnered with Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society to bring the best of British gardening to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Featured presenters include Mark Lane, gardens manager for the household of the British royal family, and Raymond J. Evison, author and lecturer and nurseryman for Guernsey Clematis Nursery.

Visitors to the flower show shouldn’t miss the opportunity to take a side trip to another Philadelphia gardening mecca: Bartram’s Garden. Here they will discover that America’s influence on British gardening may be every bit as large as British influence on American gardening. Much of that influence may be attributed to a self-taught botanist named John Bartram (1699-1777), who purchased the land now preserved as Bartram’s Garden in 1728. John was passionate about plants, traversing much of the Eastern Seaboard to collect botanical specimens and seeds. He established a correspondence with London merchant Peter Collinson, sending collections of seeds for resale. Five guineas would purchase a Bartram Box including 100 or more varieties of seeds. Many members of the British nobility eventually became Bartram’s clients, and Bartram was named Royal Botanist by King George III.

A wide spectrum of colorful plants native to North America—including magnolias, mountain laurels, azaleas, rhododendrons, sugar maples, black gums, viburnums, and sumacs—have changed the palette of British landscapes due to the enormous influence of John Bartram. John pursued his plant collecting as a business, creating one of the first plant catalogs in the United States in 1785. His son William Bartram and, later, granddaughter Ann Bartram Carr and her husband continued to operate the business until 1850, when financial difficulties forced it to close. During that time, the operation grew to include 10 greenhouses, a collection of more than 1,400 native plant species, and as many as 1,000 exotic species.

John Bartram’s house is shown in this 1903 painting attributed to Mary E. Bonsall. The core of the house was built by the original Swedish settler in 1684, but it was substantially enlarged by Bartram, who added the distinctive Ionic columns and other details.

John Bartram’s house is shown in this 1903 painting attributed to Mary E. Bonsall. The core of the house was built by the original Swedish settler in 1684, but it was substantially enlarged by Bartram, who added the distinctive Ionic columns and other details, like the carved inscription show at bottom left.

Since 1891, Bartram’s Garden has been owned by the City of Philadelphia. It is now managed by the nonprofit John Bartram Association in cooperation with the City of Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation. The house and many of the original stone outbuildings, including the one John used to package seeds for shipment to Europe, have been restored. And recently, the Bartram Nursery was reopened, offering the first selection of plants for sale since the 1850s. The plants are offered year-round at the Garden Shop and at seasonal sales. Some seeds from Bartram’s Garden may also be purchased through the garden’s online shop.

If you schedule your visit to Bartram’s Garden for Wednesday, March 6, 2013, plan to purchase tickets for a guided tour by Head Gardener Todd Greenberg. And while you’re at the Philadelphia Flower Show, be sure to attend one of the presentations by Kirk R. Brown of the Garden Writers Association, who interprets the life and work of John Bartram. He’ll be speaking at the Gardener’s Studio.

To read more about John Bartram and his circle of amateur botanists, check out The Brother Gardeners, by Andrea Wulf.

Note: You can follow Organic Gardening staff members and events at the flower show on Twitter (@ogmag and @PhilaFlowerShow, hashtags #flowershow and #subarugardens), Facebook (Organic Gardening Magazine), and Pinterest (pinterest.com/ogmag/philadelphia-flower-show).

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February 25th, 2013
Envelope, Please

We will leave it to the professional movie critics to opine on which of the winning films in last night’s Oscars ceremony deserved their awards. As for us, we think the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences needs to add a few competitive categories, and we know who we would have voted for in previous years:


Best Garden Makeover

The Secret Garden, 1993. Based on the beloved children’s novel by Francis Hodgson Burnett, this film adaptation is a testament to the restorative power of growing things. Its young protagonist, Mary, and her friend Dickon restore the health of Mary’s cousin Colin along with the health of his departed mother’s long-neglected garden.


Best Fantasy Potager

It’s Complicated, 2009. We include the word fantasy in this category title because the sumptuous kitchen garden shown in this film is Hollywood set-staging at its finest. The leading female character, a baker played by Meryl Streep, was trained in France, so it makes sense that she would have a French-style potager. What doesn’t make sense is that in this garden, cool-season and warm-season crops grow side-by-side. Turns out they were grown in a greenhouse and sunk into the garden pots and all, so any of them that wasn’t ready for its close-up could be replaced quickly. And those lush tomatoes? They were wired to the vines.


Best Garden as Metaphor for the Zeitgeist

Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis), 1970. This story centers on the members of an upper-class Jewish family who appear to be living an idyllic life in their beautiful walled garden in late-1930s Ferrara, Italy. But the rise of fascism brings with it a more sinister kind of exclusion and enclosure.


Best Institutional Garden

Greenfingers, 2000. Based on a true story, this British comedy stars Clive Owen as a convict in a minimum-security facility in the U.K. who spearheads a prison garden project. The inmates’ efforts are noticed by a gardening celebrity, Georgina Woodhouse (played by Helen Mirren), who encourages them to enter the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Georgina has an attractive daughter, and romance ensues. Note: Also award-worthy, albeit for the small screen, is the similarly titled “Green Fingers,” a 1972 episode of the TV show Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. It features Elsa Lanchester as Lydia Bowen, a gardener who refuses to sell her land to developers. They resort to coercive tactics, but in return Lydia plants a crop they will never forget.


Best Unauthorized Use of a Greenhouse

Saving Grace, 2000. Faced with foreclosure after the death of her husband, a small-town widow named Grace, played by Brenda Blethyn, turns to an unusual crop to make ends meet.


Best Garden Holiday

Enchanted April, 1991. Again, the lush landscape in this British drama about a group of Londoners vacationing in Italy is slightly enhanced for the camera, but that only adds to the dreamy character of the film.


Best Use of Wildflowers

Howards End, 1991. Our pic for most memorable scene featuring wildflowers is the scene of unlucky character Leonard Bast strolling through a woodland carpeted with English bluebells (hyacinthoides non-scripta). Okay, so they’re nonnative and can be invasive, but they’re gorgeous.

Other movies that feature pivotal scenes in gardens:

  • Gone with the Wind, 1939
  • The Godfather, 1972
  • Being There, 1979
  • Much Ado About Nothing, 1993
  • Sense and Sensibility, 1995
  • Harrison’s Flowers, 2000
  • Pride & Prejudice, 2005
  • Atonement, 2007
  • The Town, 2010
  • Quartet, 2012

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February 18th, 2013
Presidential Plants

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who were born this month in 1732 and 1809, respectively, both served the country at critical moments in its history: Washington fought for its creation, and Lincoln for its preservation. But besides this distinction—and the fact that their faces are engraved on our currency—they share another honor: They each have garden and landscape plants named after them. Here are a few.

Washington1797

George Washington

Rosa ‘General Washington’ (a medium red hybrid perpetual rose), introduced in 1860 or 1860

Thuja occidentalis ’George Washington’ (variegated arborvitae), introduced in 1986

Hemerocallis ‘George Washington’ (a bubblegum pink daylily with a gold edge), introduced in 2007

Washingtonia, a genus of fan palms native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico that includes Washingtonia filifera (California fan palm) and W. robusta (Washington fan palm)

Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Rosa ‘Souvenir du President Lincoln’ (a medium pink Bourbon rose), introduced in 1865

Rhododendron ‘President Lincoln’ (a rhododendron with lavender flowers), introduced in 1871

Syringa vulgaris ‘President Lincoln’ (a common lilac with blue-lavender flowers), introduced in 1916

Lycopersicon lycopersicum ‘Original Abraham Lincoln’ (a red slicing tomato), introduced by the Buckbee Seed Company as ‘Buckbee’s Abraham Lincoln’ about 1923 and rebred by R. H. Shumway’s Seeds in 1986

Paeonia ‘President Lincoln’ (a red single form peony), introduced in 1928

Rosa ‘Mister Lincoln’ (a dark red hybrid tea rose), introduced in 1964

Hemerocallis ‘Abraham Lincoln’ (a lavender, violet, and chartreuse daylily), introduced in 2008

It would be interesting to learn why these plant breeders decided to name their creations after our first and 16th presidents. If any of you have grown one of these plants or has any more information about it, or know of other plants named after Washington or Lincoln, I would love to update our readers. Please add your comments below.

By the way, did you know that there is no official federal holiday called Presidents’ Day? The correct name for today’s holiday is Washington’s Birthday.

Happy birthday to the Father of Our Country!

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February 14th, 2013
Roses, Tokens of Love

In the Victorian secret code called the language of flowers, roses were especially meaningful. Each color of rose sent a specific message to the recipient, and many a fond hope was dashed when a gentleman presented a lady with a yellow rose (denoting friendship) instead of the expected red (true love) or light pink (desire).

Victorian and Edwardian greeting cards often featured roses, and several women illustrators of the period became known for the exquisite detail they achieved in painting the flowers.

Below are some of my rose-themed Valentine’s Day greeting postcards dating from about 1905 to 1915. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dark pink, for gratitude

Dark pink, for gratitude

Light pink, for desire or passion

Light pink, for desire or passion

Coral, for desire or passion

Coral, for desire or passion

Red, for true love

Red, for true love

“Read love’s tender message, hidden in the rose.”

“Read love’s tender message, hidden in the rose.”

Cupid bears a message of love.

Cupid bears a message of love.

Red and yellow roses together indicated joy or happiness.

Red and yellow roses together indicated joy or happiness.

Hearts and flowers

Hearts and flowers

“Love is lurking in your pathway.”

“Love is lurking in your pathway.”

A rose topiary by illustrator Ethel Parkinson.

A rose topiary by illustrator Ethel Parkinson

A rose among the thorns

A rose among the thorns

A rose tussie-mussie

A rose tussie-mussie

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January 2nd, 2013
Keeping Time

One of my favorite categories to collect as an ephemerist is calendars—wall, desk, pocket, perpetual, or any other kind. A century ago, calendars were often showcases for printers and illustrators to demonstrate their most advanced skills, and calendars today often follow in that tradition.

Since the feared “Mayan apocalypse” has not happened and the world has not ended, it’s safe to plan for 2013! So I thought I’d check out the current crop of calendars appropriate for gardeners and highlight the best. Bonus: Many of them are now available at reduced prices.

PLANNERS

Organic Gardening 2013 Desk Calendar

Organic Gardening 2013 Desk Calendar

Our Organic Gardening Desk Calendar is a great tool for planning and keeping track of your 2013 garden. It’s filled with tips from our editors, seasonal recipes, helpful advice, and much more, illustrated with inspirational photographs from Matthew Benson. There’s plenty of room for writing appointments and to-do lists, as well. $21.95 from the Rodale Store

Digest Your Life Eco Planner

Digest Your Life Eco Planner

The Digest Your Life Eco Planner, designed by PCP, is printed with soy inks on 100 percent recycled paper. It helps you plan week-by-week and organize your contacts. $5 from Poketo

DESK CALENDARS

Desk calendars are great to display in your office, where you most likely keep track of your appointments electronically and need a calendar only as a visual reminder of the date.

Ephemerals Desk Calendar

Ephemerals Desk Calendar

The Ephemerals Desk Calendar (I love that title!) is hand-printed on an antique letterpress. Each month has a different illustration of a garden insect by Yasuko Nakamura, and the pages are perforated so that they can be used as postcards once the month is over. $20.97 from Kate’s Paperie

Grow-A-Garden Plantable Calendar

Grow-A-Garden Plantable Calendar

The Grow-A-Garden Plantable Seed Calendar is a gift that keeps on giving. Each page is made of seed paper that is embedded with a different herb or vegetable seed: tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, dill, basil, and parsley. Plant the page when the month is over, and see what grows! Tips for growing and using each type of plant are included. $24.95 from Botanical Paperworks

Cavallini Botanica Desk Calendar

Cavallini Botanica Desk Calendar

Each year, Cavallini Papers designs gorgeous calendars using vintage and archival images, printed on thick laid paper so they’re suitable for framing. Cavallini’s offerings for 2013 include this Botanica desk calendar, which reproduces engravings that first appeared in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine in the late 18th and early 19th century. $12.95 from Two Hands Paperie

Rifle Paper Co. Botanical Desk Calendar

Rifle Paper Co. Botanical Desk Calendar

This Botanical Desk Calendar comes with its own powder-coated steel easel and a reusable gift box. Each 6-inch-square monthly calendar card features a different hand-painted illustration by Anna Bond. $48 from Rifle Paper Co.

DECORATIVE WALL CALENDARS

When you don’t need space for writing appointments and reminders, there’s more room for artwork. These illustrated calendars will inspire your gardening creativity year-round.

Language of Flowers wall calendar by The House That Lars Built

Language of Flowers wall calendar by The House That Lars Built

The Language of the Flowers Wall Calendar, from The House That Lars Built, tells a hidden story based on a century-old Victorian secret code. Each flower has a special meaning. It’s printed in Denmark on cotton paper. $28 from Terrain

YearOfTheGarden

The Year of the Garden Wall Calendar from Earmark

The Year of the Garden Wall Calendar is a poster-sized print that can be used framed or unframed, with illustrations by Earmark. $17.99 from Earmark via Etsy

Claudia Pearson’s Buy Local Calendar

Claudia Pearson’s Buy Local Calendar

Each 6-by-9-inch page of Claudia Pearson’s Buy Local Calendar features an illustration of seasonal fruits and vegetables available at local markets that month as a reminder to buy local. $24 from claudiagpearson via Etsy

Botanica lWall Calendar from ModernPrintedMatter

Botanical Wall Calendar from ModernPrintedMatter

The Botanical Wall Calendar features drawings by Anna Cote. It’s professionally digitally printed on heavy recycled matte white cover stock, and is available either wire bound or single hole punched (so you can hang several months side by side). $24 from ModernPrintedMatter via Etsy

Botanica Calendar by Susan Black

Botanica Calendar by Susan Black

The Botanica 2013 Calendar by Canadian artist Susan Black features 12 of her botanical collages. It is unbound, and printed on heavyweight paper so the pages can be framed later. $32 from 29blackstreet via Etsy

RifleGardenCalendarThe 2013 Garden Calendar from Rifle Paper is printed on natural white paper. It has a different illustration for each month and comes with rustic twine for hanging. $16 from Rifle Paper Co.

Vilmorin Vegetable Garden Calendar

The Vilmorin Vegetable Garden Calendar features 12 reproductions of images from Album Vilmorin (Les Plantes Potagères), a collection of botanical illustrations commissioned by the French Seed company Vilmorin-Andrieux & Cie between 1850 and 1895. Each page is printed on lavish Italian Acquerello art paper and is perforated so it can be framed later. $24.99 from Taschen

WRITE-ON WALL CALENDARS

These calendars have monthly write-in grids that let you keep track of your appointments and special occasions.

Organic Gardening 2013 Wall Calendar

Organic Gardening 2013 Wall Calendar

Our Organic Gardening 2013 Wall Calendar is available free with a 2-year (12-issue) subscription to the magazine. Each month of the calendar features a different inspiring photo. $23.94 (including magazine subscription) from Rodale

Cavallini Wall Calendar - Flora & Fauna

Cavallini Wall Calendar - Flora & Fauna

The Cavallini Wall Calendar – Flora & Fauna features ephemera from the Cavallini archives. $21.95 from Two Hands Paperie

Cavallini Wall Calendar - Garden

Cavallini Wall Calendar - Garden

The Cavallini Wall Calendar – Garden reproduces images from vintage seed catalogs in the Cavallini archives. $21.95 from Two Hands Paperie

2013 Snow & Graham Grid Calendar

2013 Snow & Graham Grid Calendar

The 2013 Snow & Graham Grid Calendar has 9-by-12-inch grid pages that give you plenty of room to write, plus a different floral design for each month. $27.95 from Paper Source

2013 Food Landscapes Calendar by Carl Warner

2013 Food Landscapes Calendar by Carl Warner

Look closely at the scenes featured on the 2013 Food Landscapes Calendar, by Carl Warner, and you will see that each “landscape” is composed entirely of food! $13.99 from Calendars.com

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