10 February 2015

The Quincunx And The Olitory

I added quincunx and olitory to my lexicon. Read on and you will too.

2015 gardening began this weekend. I packed up and labeled my contributions for the Washington Gardener Magazine annual Seed Exchange. This one held in Virginia is scheduled on the first weekend in February. The day's program began at the registration table to pick up my goody bag of seeds and promotions. Then on to peruse the table full of garden catalogs, old magazines, and more promotions. Then down the ramp to the main attraction: the seeds.

I brought some packets of my famous bombast rose poppy seeds [posted 2013.06.02], and some purple oriental poppy seeds (papaver somniferum). They were deposited into the basket at the registration table to be cataloged and checked for non-native invasiveness. It seems that for this year, fewer gardeners brought seeds for exchange, and relied instead on the hundreds of expired commercial seed packets from previous years.

I arrived early, so like a hired agent at a private Southeby's auction, I slithered through the tables of the seed packets, taking notes of prized spoils, and ranked them for possible acquisition later.

First, the speakers presented their talks to the crowd of about 50 gardeners. The more interesting to me was Pat Brodowski, vegetable gardener at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Pat talked about the gardener, his horticultural exploits, and his history. Did you know that Jefferson experimented to a point of trying 230 vegetable varieties, including 13 tomatoes, 48 beans, 38 herbs, and 7 pumpkins?

He employed a classic planting pattern for spacing crops that was more efficient that a rectangular grid. A quincunx pattern is made of alternately arranged rows, depending on the spacing of the crop, and was a pattern used in classic early gardens. Today you find it widely used for fruit orchard layouts.

In his writings, Thomas Jefferson also mentioned his garden olitory. This referred to his terraced vegetable garden, although the term today is more widely reserved for a kitchen garden for cullinary use. Pat also talked about Jefferson's and early America's connections to European horticulture, especially Italian; climates, the difficulties in translating horticultural terms from writings of the 1700s; and the seed exchange with native peoples around Fort Mandan from whom Lewis and Clark brought seeds to Jefferson.

Pat brought a boatload of seeds from Monticello for us to scarf up. I picked up some nigella, early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, gaillardia, veronica, and scabiosa from our third president's garden. Oh, and for my entrance fee and poppy seeds I also went home with seeds for:

National Pickling Cucumber
Oriole Zinnia
Purple Calabash Tomato
Tip Top Mahogany Nasturtium
Royal Burgundy Bean
Spacemaster Cucumber
Waltham 20 Broccoli
French Breakfast Radish
Oriental Giant Japanese Spinach
Monarda Lambada
White Icicle Radish
Green Envy Zinnia
Big Jim Chili Pepper
Autumn Beauty Sunflower
Datura Metal (white)
Rocky Mountain Blue Penstemon
Blue Lake Beans
Pennisetum Orientale
Russian Tarragon
Siam Queen Thai Basil
Black Beauty Squash
Red Oriental Poppy
Black Pearl Pepper
Yellow Pear Tomato
Mary Lou Heard Sweet Pea
Danvers Half long Carrot

With the Garden Stamp I won as a door prize, I think I am now set to start my own public botanical garden.


J Clark said...
I need to put this event on my calendar for next year.