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Library hours for 2017:

  • Wednesdays 9 am – noon
  • Saturdays 10 am – 1 pm

To contact us, telephone (during volunteer hours) 250 479 6273, or email [email protected] any time.

Bookends

If Plants Could Talk

If plants could talk, they would have some great stories to tell us about their family “trees.” Since they aren’t able to talk (yet!), one thing we can do is read what some conscientious individuals have learned and are able to tell us through the books they have written. . . you know, those things we used to use for entertainment and information.

John Fisher was a writer who did a lot of research. His “The Origins of Garden Plants” is full of items of interest. Being a diplomatic correspondent, Fisher was able to travel extensively in a number of foreign countries.  This gave him an opportunity to combine his interest in flowers with business. 

So, thanks to Fisher, we learn that the Rose of Sharon  (Hypericum calycinum) was introduced to England by a George Wheler who, while taking a break from Oxfordin the early 1600’s, joined a party headed for Constantinople.. . . and that’s where he came upon the Hypericum calycinum. (He was later knighted for the discovery. Plant people got recognition in those days!)

If you should need to get a conversation started one day, you might want to tell the story of how the Handkerchief  (or Ghost) Tree got brought from China to England in 1911. Should there be a really serious gap in the conversation, you could go into the story of John Tradescant (also back in the 1600’s). It could take some time to tell of the seven months he spent on the Mediterranean aboard a ship sent to suppress the slave trade. During that time he must have done some hiking on shore as he picked up Gladiolus bulbs, a Tamarix anglica  (native of Portugal and Spain), Rock roses, and an evergreen Viburnum tinus. And that is just a part of the list!

Another book along these same lines is “Plants that Changed our Gardens” by Mea Allan. It contains a chapter about Peter Barr who hybridized daffodils and a chapter about the Tradescent family. And the chapter about David Douglas is a “must read” for all British Columbians!

With these suggestions for starters, you should have enough reading material to make the winter days pass quickly.

Note: The HCP Library will be closed as usual over the holiday period and through January. Get stocked up with reading material before the holidays!

Isabelle E Jones, Librarian

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Manual of Injurious Insects and Methods of Prevention  by E. A. Ormerod

If you happen to have asparagus growing in your garden, do you know how to control the asparagus beetles? Well, according to the Manual of Injurious Insects and Methods of Prevention by E. A. Ormerod (published in 1890), all you have to do is go to the section “Food Crops,” where you will find that “Asparagus” is the first crop listed (because it starts with “A,” of course) .  Under “Prevention and Remedies” we can then read the following: ” Dipping the infested shoots in a mixture of half a pound of soft soap, a quarter of a pound of flower of sulphur, and about the same quantity of soot, well mixed together in a pail of warm water. . .”

There are further instructions re “application” but, moving on quickly to “C,” we find listed the cabbage aphis (Cabbage Green Fly), otherwise known as Aphis brassica.  We are then told that drenching the infested plants with soap suds is practicable as it kills the young Aphides.  However, “Syringing with an infusion of tobacco mixed with limewater has been found very useful and the following mixture is also stated to be serviceable:  Four ounces of quassia boiled for ten minutes in a gallon of water, and a piece of soft soap about four ounces in weight then added; and the mixture syringed over the plants.”

Wireworms get a number of pages. Treatments here vary according to the crop being under attack. For instance, “soot and also guano have been found to stop the mischief in bad attacks on oats. The soot was applied at the rate of sixteen bushels per acre, the guano at the rate of two hundredweight, ‘all in a pouring rain.’ “

This will probably be sufficient evidence to convince readers  that there’s more than enough information in some older books to keep us challenged and bemused for some time – far more interesting that just getting the latest facts and figures off the internet!  And when we’re browsing older books, we may even discover that some now-forgotten methods of controlling infestations and diseases of plants are worth further consideration.  Do come in to our HCP library for a browse one day, whether or not there’s a “pouring rain!”

Isabelle E Jones, Librarian