| Main |

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!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

March 16th, 2011

Sharin’ the Green

nancy-80x80Like many holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is associated with both historical truths and fanciful mythology. These St. Patrick’s Day postcards from my collection, which are all about a century old, illustrate some of those facts and myths.

First, there was indeed a Catholic priest named Patrick. But he wasn’t Irish; he was English. Born into an aristocratic family about 390 A.D., he was abducted as a teenager and taken to Ireland, where he lived as a slave for seven years before escaping and returning home. It was there that he received a divine call to return to Ireland and convert the Irish to Christianity. Traditional stories claimed that Patrick “drove the snakes out of Ireland,” but climatic conditions mean that there were never any snakes of the reptilian variety in Ireland to drive out. This legend is now considered a metaphor for Patrick’s evangelizing and driving the Old Religion from the island. If you look closely at the postcard on the left below, you’ll see a snake under Patrick’s boot.

The image of St. Patrick appears on relatively few turn of the century postcards celebrating his day.

The image of St. Patrick appears on relatively few turn-of-the-century postcards celebrating his day.

Another legend surrounds the association between St. Patrick and the shamrock. Some claim that the priest used the plants’ thee-part leaves to represent the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit when he was attempting to explain Christianity; modern researchers think this story was perpetuated by monks long after Patrick’s death. Nevertheless, the shamrock is still strongly associated with Ireland (the plant is its national flower) and with St. Patrick’s Day in particular.

StPat's08a

StPat's07a

The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day as something more than an ordinary saint’s day, with perhaps a special dinner, originated not in Ireland but in America, among Irish-Americans. Postcards depicting “hands across the sea” and displaying emblems from both cultures were common. The card below features flags representing the United States and Ireland—but the “Irish” flag shown is that of the Irish Catholic republican nationalists and not the official tricolor Irish national flag in use today. The shamrock appears as the emblem of the Irish, while goldenrod represents the United States. (The goldenrod was once in contention for our country’s official flower, but that honor was given to the rose in 1986.)

StPat's09a

Another symbol of good luck that appears on old St. Patrick’s Day postcards is the pig. This tradition comes from Teutonic cultures and is maintained in modern Germany and Austria, as well as England and Ireland, but Americans in general have not embraced it.

StPat'sPair02

StPat'sPair03

But we do still enjoy these old St. Patrick’s Day postcards, which are a celebration of Irish-American culture, if not the saint for whom the day is named.

StPat's10a

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

December 22nd, 2010

O Lemon Tree!

Our very own Charlie Brown Christmas tree

Our very own Charlie Brown Christmas tree

O Lemon Tree
Sung to the tune of “O Christmas Tree”

O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
You once had so much promise!
O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
You once had so much promise!
You decked yourself in flow’rs and fruit;
Wee ‘Meyer’ lemons, oh-so-cute.
O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
You once had so much promise!

O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
How brittle are your branches!
O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
How brittle are your branches!
We gave you water, and a trim,
But we must say that things look grim.
O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
How brittle are your branches!

O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
You might bring shame upon us!
O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
You might bring shame upon us!
Our readers trust our plant advice;
When they see you, they might think twice.
O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
You might bring shame upon us!

O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
We’ve cleverly disguised you!
O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
We’ve cleverly disguised you!
With pine boughs from around the town,
And one red ball, like Charlie Brown.
O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
We’ve cleverly disguised you!

O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
To hope you give us reason!
O lemon tree, O lemon tree,
To hope you give us reason!
When folks see you, they pause awhile.
They just can’t help it—they must smile!
And that’s our wish for ev’ryone,
This joyous Yuletide season!

Tags: , ,






OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image
OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image OGFooter image