- Author: Kathy Low
Do you know what flower was said to once be “a fair nymph, who was changed by Diana into this flower to avoid the importunities of Apollo?”
Do you know what bush is said to be the burning bush that appeared to Moses?
Do you know what flowering plant Hindu poets refer to as the “Moonlight of the Grove”?
You can find the answers to these questions in a free book available for download.
If you enjoy reading about the lore and legends surrounding plants, then you'll enjoy Richard Folkard's Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics: Embracing the Myths, Traditions, Superstitions, and Folklore of the Plant Kingdom, published in 1884.
The first half of the book consists of sixteen chapters and starts with a look at plant lore associated with the Bible, then expands to look at sacred trees and plants in various religions. It then continues to look at plants in the mythical world of fairies, nymphs, elves, witches and other magical creatures, for example, Elves are supposedly fond of inhabiting oak trees, and the holes in the tree's trunk are used by fairies because of their easy entry and exit. It also looks at plants associated with the devil and witches, like the Deadly Nightshade. There are also chapters on plants connected with birds and animals, such as the relationship between the nightingale and the rose plant, or the dove and the olive tree.
You'll also find a chapter on plants and the planets. Did you know there was a belief that every plant was under the direct influence of a particular planet? For example, plants under the influence of Saturn have hairy, hard dry, coarse and ugly leaves, flowers that are gloomy, dull, prickly and disagreeable, with a bad odor.
The second half of the book is arranged like an encyclopedia of plants. Each plant in this section includes lore associated with the plant, as well as a brief description of the plant and its introduction to different locations.
You can read the book for free online, or download it for free from Project Gutenberg. Simply go to www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/44638.
By the way, if you guessed the answers to the questions above were a tulip, a bramble/blackberry bush, and jasmine, you're correct!
- Author: Launa Herrmann
Stuart gardens took the patterned garden to a grander scale under the rule of Charles II in 1660. Following his return from exile in France with two of Louis XIV's gardeners, French-style gardens were the rage — formal flowerbeds surrounding the house, rectangular patterned hedges, large walking paths and avenues, some lined with trees, fanning out from a central point.
Garden style trivia quiz — True or false?
California Master Gardener's Handbook, Chapter 1 Overview, “Master Gardeners and The Many Philosophies of Home Gardening,” pg 3
- Author: Michelle Davis
When I think of spring, I think of yellow: African daisies, poppies, oxalis, tidy-tips, and daffodils. And one of my favorite things to do in early spring is taking a road trip to Volcano to visit McLaughlin's Daffodil Hill.
Daffodil Hill is part of a ranch that has been owned by the McLaughlin family since the late 1800s. History has it that the family bought the ranch from Pete Denzer, who was originally from Holland, and who planted daffodils to remind him of his homeland. Mrs. McLaughlin loved the daffodils. Each year she would divide and then replant the daffodil bulbs, and each year the flower display grew more spectacular. Today the daffodils cover 7 acres, and her great-grandchildren, the current ranch owners, continue to plant thousands of bulbs each year.
Sometime in the 1940s, the display became a destination for visitors in early spring. My husband and I go almost every year. We would go every year, but Daffodil Hill doesn't always get a chance to open to the public for visitation. Last year the flowers just started to bloom in late February, and they were pelted by rain, hail, sleet, and snow through March. The flowers didn't recover in time for the Hill to reopen. Another year we went on the last day of the single week they were able to be open. Most years they are open for 3 to 4 weeks starting sometime in March. Visitation is very weather-dependent. The trails through the garden are packed clay and get quite slick in the rain. Since the display is on a hillside, for safety reasons, Daffodil Hill is not open when it is raining or when it has recently rained. When it is open, the display is glorious and well worth the drive. Wear layers, pack a picnic lunch and plan to take lots of pictures. Check before driving up there to see if they are going to be open that day. Parking is free and available across the road from the gardens. Pets are not allowed. Entry is also free, but donations are gladly accepted. I usually check their Facebook page to see if they will be open. You can also call. Take a look on Facebook now, and you will see a picture of the entire hillside covered in a thick blanket of snow. It may be a while before they open.
- Author: Mike Gunther
- Author: Lanie Keystone
I have just been given the honor of becoming the Executive Director of the Vacaville Museum which serves to preserve and share with the public, the value and treasure of all of Solano County's history and culture. With this exciting new position, I'm reveling in the new knowledge I'm gaining about our wonderful county…starting with the very foundation it was set on by those who came before us so many years ago—the orchards of Solano County.
As history goes, during the Gold Rush, some pioneers found a different kind of “gold”. It was in the soil and climate of Solano County. The valley's soil and climate provided the early settlers with the ideal location to start fruit orchards—and a new industry was born.
Most orchards, established in the 1840s and '50s were on Mexican Land Grant lands. The settlers discovered a combination of warmer temperatures, heavy amounts of rain along the hills, and mountains that provided shelter from west winds. And, it was in Solano County that the earliest deciduous fruit trees in the U.S. thrived.
After the railroad extension was completed in 1868, fruit growers could ship fruit. And in 1880, with the advent of refrigerated box cars, delicate fruit could be shipped across the entire country by rail to the Midwest and East Coast markets. About this same time, fields of wheat and grapes were also planted for a short 10 years, when the disease, phylloxera wiped out the grapes. It was then that the vineyards were replaced with fruit and nut orchards.
The 1890s brought fame to Solano County—and the “Early Fruit District” of Vacaville was known for the first fruit of each season. In fact, newspapers duly noted the earliest date of each new crop! Besides being the earliest fruit yield of each year, Solano County orchards were also famous for stronger flavors. Without much irrigation, the sugar became more concentrated in smaller fruits and thus created the intense flavor. This made for ideal dried fruit, as well.
In subsequent blogs, we'll discover how this famous crop flourished and what became of the orchards over the years. And, of great interest to each of us fascinated by all things horticultural, an upcoming spring exhibition at the Vacaville Museum will star these orchards and the historical photographs that documented them. Stay tuned!