Sunday, December 27, 2009

Belated Thank You's

Before this year draws to a close and we usher in 2010, I want to take care of some unfinished business. In the last two months I've received several gifts, and I'd like to thank those who were so kind to give them to me.

Some time ago I received a free copy of Flora Mirabilis: How Plants Have Shaped World Knowledge, Health, Wealth, and Beauty from the publishers at National Geographic. Written by Catherine Herbert Howell in collaboration with the Missouri Botanical Garden Library, this is a beautifully illustrated book that would be perfect for any gardener's coffee table collection.

Several other bloggers have already posted reviews of this book, so I won't bore you by repeating the same information here. Besides, in all honesty, I haven't had time to read the whole book yet, just snippets here and there. But that is one of the great things about this book--you can choose a chapter or one of the mini-chapters about specific plants in any order you wish.

A few bits of trivia I found fascinating in the book:

  • One example is the olive, which appears in Greek mythology when Athena and Poseidon held a contest to see who would be the protector of Athens. Whoever produced the most valuable gift for the people of the city would win. Poseidon produced a saltwater spring (in the translation I had read before, it was a horse), and Athena offered an olive tree. She won the contest hands down, and the city adopted her name. In the familiar Biblical story of Noah, the olive appears again, as a dove released by Noah came back with an olive branch, a sign that the flood had receded. The olive branch is still a symbol of peace today.

  • European explorers are believed to have brought many diseases to the New World, including malaria. Several stories tell of people cured of malaria by the bark of a special tree in South America. This "Peruvian bark" was brought back to Europe, and eventually renamed Cinchona officinalis. This plant is still in use as a remedy today--known to us as quinine.

  • We all think of Holland when we think of tulips, but did you know just how popular this flower once was in this country? In the early 1600's tulipomania took over the country, and prices for the most desired bulbs shot skyward. "By 1610 a new tulip variety was perfectly acceptable as a dowry, and houses and businesses were often mortgaged to facilitate the purchase of a coveted flower." Not surprisingly, the market eventually crashed, nearly bankrupting the whole country.

  • One of my favorite plants is pictured above in one of the many excellent illustrations in the book. Theobroma cacao literally means "food of the gods"--certainly appropriate for this source of chocolate. In Mayan culture cocoa seeds were used as currency, and it wasn't until 1847 that a British company produced the first chocolate that could be eaten.

Flora Mirabilis, however, is not a book of trivia but rather an engaging history of the role plants have played in our lives. It is what its name means--"a wonderful book about flowers." If you would like to know more about this book, check out some of the reviews posted by other bloggers, including an excellent and thorough review by another Rose at Rambleonrose.

Please note other than the free copy of this book, I received no remuneration for mentioning this book, nor was I required in any way to review the book here.

My tiny garden library has also increased in volume recently after winning two giveaways. The first was a giveaway by gardening guru Carol at MayDreams Gardens, where I was the lucky winner of this book, What's Wrong With My Plant? Carol, as well as several other bloggers, have posted reviews of this book, so I'll refer you to them for details. But I have skimmed through the book and can say that this will definitely come in handy! No more wondering what is causing those little holes in the leaves of my roses or what's causing the sedum to flop over and die. Next year, with the help of this reference, I'll have all the answers! Thanks, Carol!

Apparently the stars were in alignment for me for a short time (too bad I didn't buy a lottery ticket!), because a few weeks later I also won a giveaway at Commonweeder. Nancy Ondra's The Perennial Care Manual is another excellent reference that I know I'll consult frequently. Filled with beautiful photographs, the book gives instructions for specific plants on everything from pruning to propagating.

Looks like it's time to buy that new bookcase I've been wanting for my office!

And one more gift . . . Along with Nan Ondra's book, Pat at Commonweeder also sent me two dozen "Cowpots." Now all I need are some packets of seeds, and I will be all set for spring seed sowing! Thanks, Pat!

Finally, two more belated thank-you's. Shady Gardener at Does Everything Grow Better in My Neighbor's Yard? gave me this blog award some time ago.

And Suburbia at Moments From Suburbia gave me this award a few months ago. Thank you to both of you! I know the rules are to pass these on, but there are so many blogs I read these days that I thoroughly enjoy that I would have trouble picking out just a few. So, I thank these two friends for the awards and extend my thanks to all of you who make each day a little brighter with your creative, inspiring, or often humorous views of the world around us.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that you are able now to enjoy a little relaxation after the hubbub of decorating, baking, and shopping. All the presents have been opened here, and not one garden gift in the bunch! Oh well, my birthday is in June, so there is still hope. Meanwhile, we did have one more "gift"--the snow began to fall on Christmas Day, and by today my yard was a vision of white.

My camera was not out of focus--that is blowing snow you see in the background. Looks like I can finally join in on Nancy's "First Snowfall" project!
Wishing you all a great week and the beginning of a happy New Year!


  1. Rose, your snowy scene looks so lovely and serene to this Southern gardener. I hope that it doesn't make life too difficult for you and yours. Here's to a wonderful 2010 in and out of the garden!

  2. Rose, You did have a string of great gardening luck! Those are wonderful wins. I so agree with Cindy~~the snowy scene does look wonderfully serene and beautiful...Happiest of New years to you and your family! gail

  3. I got the Flora Mirabilis for Christmas. I can't wait to have time to read it. I love this type of book, meaning one you can pick up and put down easily. Glad to hear you survivied the holidays. That layer of snow makes everything look so neat and tidy. Cheers.

  4. Rose, while I am very happy for you winning those great books-I am also happy for me too. I know as my best friend you will be more than happy to share them with me. :) Your awards were also well deserved. Even if required by friendship to read your blog(just kidding of course) I'd read it anyway for it's always delightful and astute observations.

    The snow was a great Christmas present to all like you and I who think it must be a white Christmas. But I assume your hubby was not as equally thrilled.

    See you soon and we will ring in the New Year in style.

  5. Oh! It looks like your had a white Christmas! Your garden looks lovely. What luck to be the recipient of so many wonderful books--I do think you should go get that lottery ticket--right now! I hope your New Year is the best yet.

  6. What a wonderful collection of books to enjoy through the winter!! From the looks of the snow you will not be gardening this week at least....snuggle up with a cup of warm tea and one of those great books!!
    Happy New Year to you.

  7. Your garden gifts came early in the form of the contest prizes! Thanks so much for the link love, and the snow looks great. We have been socked up here with over 8 inches! Congrats on the blog awards; you deserve them!

  8. Wow Rose you really did receive some nice gifts! Maybe you can share any helpful info with the rest of us.

  9. Your snow took a long time to show up. I'd have been happy to share some of mine.
    Good stash of books to lose yourself in over the winter. There's nothing like a good garden book for making one forget how cold it is outside.

  10. You are a lucky woman! Congratulations! It looks like you have a winter's worth of reading right at hand.

  11. I remember reading about the tulips and how incredibly expensive they were. It's a good thing our currency isn't cocoa beans, I'd literally eat all my money;)

    It's nice you got a white Christmas. We got an icestorm. The most treacherous driving I can remember. We got our snow on Boxing Day.

  12. Cindy, Yes, the snow is beautiful, but I think this is enough for me for the winter:)

    Gail, I did feel as if I hit the jackpot! The snow is lovely as long as I can stay inside.

    Lisa, "Flora" is a book you can pick up whenever you have a little free time. I love history, so the stories behind the plants are especially interesting to me.

    Beckie, You are certainly welcome to borrow any of them! No, Hubby has had enough of snow:) Let's pray for a snow-less day on New Year's Eve.

    MG, The white Christmas was a little late, but that's okay--it meant no problems in getting together for the holidays. I think my luck may have run out:)

    Janet, Definitely no gardening for awhile, so the books look very tempting right now.

    Rose, I didn't want to even try to top your review on "Flora"--it was superb! We didn't get 8 inches, thank goodness.

    Susie, Come gardening season, I should be an expert:)

    MMD, I have a feeling I might want to share some snow soon, too:) I won't be working out in the garden any time soon, so I should have plenty of time to read.

    Pat, I did feel as if I was on a lucky roll for a few weeks! Thanks again for the books; can't wait to try out the "cowpots."

    Marnie, No, I would much rather have snow--ice storms are the worst! LOL, I would have eaten my money, too:)

  13. Hi Rose, Happy New Year to you x

  14. Rose, you of all people deserve those wonderful gifts and awards. Your blog is one of my favorites, and you're a great blogging buddy who always has something interesting to say when you stop by to comment. I hope your New Year returns the same gifts of joy and friendship to you that you extend to everyone else.

  15. Interesting the trivia about gardening and the Greeks were smart to name their city after Athena, such a smart and pretty name!

    I want to wish you a great start to 2010 and may it be your best ever.

  16. Glad that you have some serious reading matter to while away the winter evenings Rose. I will be on the look out for 'Flora Mirabilis' - I like books that you can dip in and out of. Your snow looks spectacular - we had snow on the ground for Christmas Day but none fell so I think that you had the best deal :)

  17. I love the picture of the blowing snow. Beautiful!

  18. Oh, the blowing snow is so beautiful. We rarely get snow, so I will enjoy yours...

    What wonderful gifts 2009 brought :-)

  19. Hello Rose,

    Sure hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I stopped by regarding your comment on my blog concerning the weather: it looks like we are finally done with the ice for now and resuming mid to high 40 temps, so not to worry about your daughter. ;) We wish you a New Year of good health and much Joy! Diana

  20. The illustrations in that first book look just marvelous. I may have to go shopping for that one. :)

  21. Suburbia, and a Happy New Year to you as well!

    W2W, Thank you for such kind words--I don't know what to say. The friends I have made here in the world of blogging have been a true blessing. Thanks for making my day!

    Tina, Thank you and wishes for a happy New Year to you, too! Hope you are enjoying your family time; I'm looking forward to your return.

    Anna, Yes, I will be spending many of these cold and long winter evenings reading and dreaming of gardening:)

    Sweet Bay, The snow does look beautiful...but now I'm ready for spring:)

    Noelle, That is the best way to enjoy snow--vicariously:)

    Di, Thank you for the reassurance! Daughter is used to snowplows and salted streets:) Happy New Year to you, too!

    Kate, I couldn't do the illustrations justice with my camera--it's a beautiful book to look at as well as read.

  22. Man, are you a lucky winner, or what?! I have Flora Mirabilis checked out of the library and like it enough that I'm going to buy it--for myself and as gifts. I did also break down and buy What's Wrong with My PLant--which my library doesn't have. I recommend both and I don't tend to buy many books to keep. :) Happy new year!


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