Gift Guide 2013: Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

 

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

Who would have thought that plants could be so important to world history, but from the rubber plant to the quinine to drugs and treatments yet to be discovered, plants have helped human survive and thrive throughout history.

From Amazon.com…

“Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the plants that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. Entries feature a description of the plant, its botanical name, its native range and its primary functions — edible, medicinal, commercial or practical. Concise text is highlighted by elegant botanical drawings, paintings and photographs as well as insightful quotes.

Many of the plants are well known, such as rice, tea, cotton, rubber, wheat, sugarcane, tobacco, wine grapes and corn. However, there are also many whose stories are less known.”

More 2013 Gift Guide Items:

Gift Guide 2013: Moleskeine Journals

Moleskeine Journals of all sorts

No matter how much technology i have at hand, I always find myself falling back on my paper journal as a data gathering, thought-provoking and capturing, friend. Yes, I carry and iPhone, but there is something about writing things out longhand in a paper journal that makes you think more deeply and locks in the information more completely. Moleskeine journals are the sine quo non of paper journals. Their quality is high and they have been carried by artists and business people for generations. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, lines and more, including day-to-day calendars, travel journals and city guide. 

My favorite is this large, lined journal. Right now I have a Lego Moleskeine waiting to be put into service as soon as I fill my current journals. I can’t wait!

 


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Video: In the garden…December 7, 2013: Rain, camellia, paperwhites and more!

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We take advantage of a break in the rain (Yea, Rain!) to show off the seldom blooming camellia, our yearly paperwhites and the progress of the container in the front garden.

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Check out what was happening in the garden a year ago: “Christmas Party Prep Day 4 – Cornflake Holly

Check out my collection of gardening essays, “From A Gardener’s Notebook” now available as a Kindle eBook. (You don’t need a Kindle to read it, though. Read it on your PC, Link: http://j.mp/fagnbook

 

Watch all past episodes of “In the garden…” in this YouTube Playlist


Music: ‘Hustle” by Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Please Like this video and/or subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

Your likes and subscriptions directly reflect how many other viewers are suggested this video.

 

 

“In the garden…” is a series for A Gardener’s Notebook highlighting what is happening in my garden, my friend’s gardens and California gardens throughout the seasons. 

Ginkgo in Fall Color via Instagram

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In the neighborhood today-shocking yellow against dark blue

Gift Guide 2013: How Carrots Won The Trojan War by Rebecca Rupp

How Carrots Won The Trojan War by Rebecca Rupp

A history of food (mainly vegetables, in this case) is a perfect companion to a history of cooking. Rupp divides her book into a series of easy-to-read and entertaining chapters with titles that echo the overall title of the book. Some of my favorites include, “Radishes Identify Witches, Cabbage Confounds Diogenes, and An Eggplant Causes a Holy Man to Faint.” As can be seen from the titles, each chapter focuses on a particular vegetable.

Within each chapter Rupp focuses on the evolutionary history of each plant — how it came to grow from a simple, usually only partially edible plant — to the tasty item planted in gardens all over the world. In some cases, this history is fairly well documented. In others, we can only guess what the original plant might have been like, as humans have been cultivating it for so long, in so many places, its origins are lost in the mists of history.

Rupp then includes interesting tidbits from huma history and its interaction with the vegetable. This often includes traditional medicinal uses (often contradictory), changes in how it was prepared and served and in some cases, how it suppossedly changed the course of history — as with the carrots mentioned in the title. (The Greeks suppossedly ate carrots to “bind their bowels” while they hid within the confines of the Trojan Horse).

This was a great book for reading in combination with others as the chapters are fairly short, pack in a lot of information, both useful and entertaining and allow you to easily dip in, read a bit and then move on. The chapter divisions also allowed me to concentrate more on those vegetables that most interested me and skimming over foods that my picky eating habits cause me to avoid.

This book  extremely entertaining and feeds my typical tendency to “geek out” on nearly any topic. I love learning more about nearly anything and these books provided me plenty of dinner party conversation for months to come. I can see myself sitting around the table now and reciting from the book, “Did you know that the spork was created in 1943 by Bill McArthur in New South Wales , Australia?” or “Tomatoes (or chili peppers for that matter) weren’t used in Italian Cuisine until after the ‘discovery’ of North and South America and explorers brought them back to Europe.”

I would highly recommend this books not only for the information it contains, but also for how that information is communicated. It provides great and expansive information in an entertaining and easy-to-read style that makes it both entertaining and useful.

More 2013 Gift Guide Items:

Video: Queen Butterfly, Sunnylands, Rancho Mirage, California, November 29, 2013 (Silent)

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Sunnylands butterfly

Closeup, silent, video of Queen Butterfly captured at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California on November 29, 2013. 

See more video and photos from Sunnylands in this post, Video: Sunnylands, Up Close – Rancho Mirage, California

Check out what was happening in the garden a year ago: “In the garden…November 24, 2012 – Daffodils Part 2 of 3 – Only 25 more to go! 

Check out my collection of gardening essays, “From A Gardener’s Notebook” now available as a Kindle eBook. (You don’t need a Kindle to read it, though. Read it on your PC, Link: http://j.mp/fagnbook

 

Watch all past episodes of “In the garden…” in this YouTube Playlist


Please Like this video and/or subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

Your likes and subscriptions directly reflect how many other viewers are suggested this video.

 

13 of My Favorite Garden Things for November 2013 – Douglas E. Welch

My Favorite Things 

As always, let me know what types of interesting items you would like to see and I will keep an eye out for them especially. — Douglas

Video: Sunnylands, Up Close – Rancho Mirage, California

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Sunnylands butterfly

 

We were out in the Palm Springs area visiting family as we usually do over the Thanksgiving holiday. The first time we visited Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, I concentrated on the overall picture of the gardens, with its geometric plantings of succulents. On this trip, I got up close and personal with the plants, exploring the small and subtle shapes and colors of the plants.

Watch the photo montage from my first visit here, In the garden…Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Rancho Mirage, California 

The grounds now feature this new visitor center and beautiful gardens which act as the gateway to the tour of their home, a showpiece of modern architecture and host to American Presidents, foreign dignitaries and celebrities. The Center and Gardens are free to visit, while the tour of the home is $35 and available by appointment only.

Sunnylands Web Site

To see the high-resolution photos from this video, visit this Flickr Set

Check out what was happening in the garden a year ago: “In the garden…November 24, 2012 – Daffodils Part 2 of 3 – Only 25 more to go! 

Check out my collection of gardening essays, “From A Gardener’s Notebook” now available as a Kindle eBook. (You don’t need a Kindle to read it, though. Read it on your PC, Link: http://j.mp/fagnbook

 

Watch all past episodes of “In the garden…” in this YouTube Playlist


Please Like this video and/or subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

Your likes and subscriptions directly reflect how many other viewers are suggested this video.

 

“In the garden…” is a series for A Gardener’s Notebook highlighting what is happening in my garden, my friend’s gardens and California gardens throughout the seasons.

Photos: Camellia blooms for second time in 17 years

This camellia bush has always grown well, but this is only the second time in 17 years in this house that I have seen it bloom. Even more, it is blooming quite vigorously with many bloom and yet more buds to open. I think this is partially due to the more frequent water it has been receiving this year with the timer and soaker hoses in this bed.

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Watch a side show here

Cactus spines at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, CA

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Closeup of cactus spines. More Closeup and macro photos of this visit coming soon.