Banquet Piece, Pieter Claez

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hortulus, Walafridi Strabi

Something lots of gardeners wonder about their cuke tendrils:
why are there two coils,
one going one way and the other,
the other way?
Walafred Strabo (wikipedia) was a monk (808-849 A.D) who wrote about his garden. Here he writes about gourds:

"Gourds also grow up high from modest seeds. Their leaves look like shields and cast huge shadows, and they send out their tendrils from several different branches.
You know how ivy encircles tall elms, how it wraps its arms around the tree trunk on the ground and then hides the rough bark all the way to the top in a covering mantel of green leaves.

And you know how the grapevines growing in an orchard will climb up a tree and hang grapes on the top branches, pulling themselves upwards by their own strength-- how reddish grapes hand from alien branches, and Bacchus sags down through a carpet of green, while vines poiferate and penetrate the canpoy of foliage.
The gourd plant rises up from weak seedlings and, in a similar fashion, clambers up a supporting trellis, and grasps the alder branches with its coiling shoots.

So that no raging storm can tear it loose, it sends out just as many shoots as there are knots which need to be tied, and since each tendril then bifurcates, each joint on the trellis is doubly tied left and right.
Did Walafred Strabo notice the coils? He continues.

The Wild Garden, William Robinson

The Wild Garden was published originally in 1870. In 1903, it was republished (with many changes?) with illustrations by Alfred Parsons with this note:
"The wild rose has given her petals to the winds for over twenty summers since this book with its solitary wood cut first saw the light, and if these many years give me any right to judge my own book, I may say that much experience since tells me that the 'Wild Garden' deserved to live, and that such ideas carried out with some regard to the soil and other things affecting plants in each place, may be fertile in making our open air gardens more artistic and delightful."

Read the illustrated 1903 version of The Wild Garden in Google books.

Calypso's Garden on Ogygia

Odysseus and Calypso in the caves of Ogygia
From Wikipedia
Jan Brueghel the Elder
c. 1616
A great fire blazed on the hearth and the smell of cedar cleanly split and sweetwood burning bright wafted a cloud of fragrance down the island. Deep inside she sang, the goddess Calypso, lifting her breathtaking voice as she glided back and forth before her loom, her golden shuttle weaving. Thick, luxuriant woods grew round the cave, alders and black poplars, pungent cypress too, and there birds roosted, folding their long wings, owls and hawks and the spread-beaked ravens of the sea, black skimmers who make their living off the waves. And round the mouth of the cavern trailed a vine laden with clusters, bursting with ripe grapes. Four springs in a row, bubbling clear and cold, running side-by-side, took channels left and right. Soft meadows spreading round were starred with violets, lush with beds of parsley. Why, even a deathless god who came upon that place would gaze in wonder, heart entranced with pleasure.

(Robert Fagle's translation of the Odyssey)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

First palms in the east bay?

Palms at Palmdale in Mission San Jose.
I have seen it stated that the Franciscan padres brought the first palms, Canary Island date palms, to California. If that is the case, then the first palms in the east bay would have been at Mission San Jose which was established in 1797. I read somewhere (will find!) that one of these palms might still live at Palmdale, across the street from the mission. That would make it a 218 year old palm. Do they live that long?

Palmdale has a long interesting history and is soon to close to make way for development.

I finally went there after so many years of living here in Fremont. What magnificent trees and property.

Landscape of the subconcious

That 'S' of sand and the split rail fence
lured us where?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Do Lawns Belong in California?

Lawn, roses, and palms
That's "California"
This is a slight rephrasing of Lockwood De Forest Jr. original question "Do Lawns Belong in Southern California". I do not know what is his answer...yet. However, I assume the answer was a resounding "NO" from him, but "YES" from everyone else. 

His question made me remember the following funny story that I read some years ago. I can't remember where I saw it first, but this story has circulated all over the world. It resonates!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Giant Rhubarb and Giant Sequoias

Niles Giant Rhubard, 1919
This year I spent hours looking through old California Nursery Company orders. I was searching for the palm trees that were sent to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. I ran into many other interesting orders that I put on the back-burner for future research.

Two orders were for different members of the Hearst family.

One order was on November 25, 1914 - for Mrs. P. A. Hearst in Pleasanton - for two kinds of rhubarb, Myatt's Linnaeas and Lorenzo. The order was probably for 150 rhubarb stalks, not plants, because they were 5 cents each and a plant went for 25 cents each. The order filled 3 bags. I wonder what was the rhubarb dessert that Mrs. Hearst and her guests enjoyed at the Hacienda del Pozo de Verona ?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The first Wildflower Day was at the PPIE April 24,1915

[From Builders of Our Valley, A City of Small Farms, Bertha Marguerite Rice, 1957, p.70-72]
"So great was the wealth of marvelous beauty in the infinite variety of California's native flora, that a "Wild Flower Day" was founded on April 24, 1915, at San Francisco; with an exhibit at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This State Wild Flower Exhibit was for 10 years an annual event, presented by its founder, Mrs. Bertha M. Rice; and so profound was the interest awakened by these displays that thousands of San Francisco school children and flower lovers from far and near availed themselves of the privilege of studying the marvelous array of the State's flora. Men like David Starr Jordan, Luther Burbank and scientists and educators, whose names ranked with the world's great citizens, participated in the event. Indeed, Luther Burbank, in his address on a memorable occasion during the celebration of 1921, said: "I am not sure but that this is the greatest work that is being done in the world today. Its influence is so far-reaching."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Native Fruits of California

I've seen several old references about crossing Japanese or French plums to a native plum, with no indication of the species. What plants are they referring to?

Here's a plum description from The California Fruits and How to Grown Them (Edward Wickson, 1889, p. 281): "Gaviota - Burbank cross of Japanese and native American; very large, deep red; flesh yellow, firm and sweet; pit small; rather late bloomer. Favored in the Vacaville district for shipping " Native American? Native Californian?

Wickson's book has a chapter called "The Wild Fruits of California" that is helpful to know which California native fruits were known.