Spring in my Memphis gardens

Now that spring has finally decided to stick around, I am finding it hard to focus on much other than gardening. My new backyard garden is tilled, planted with sugar snap peas and hopefully poison ivy free.

My new backyard garden

The very flimsy garden fence seems to be all the deterrent Zeb (the dog) needs to steer clear. The seedlings I started over a month ago are leggy and almost dead. I need a grow light.

Incredibly leggy tomato starts

I decided to try square foot gardening in my raised bed. This bed is dedicated to salad greens, chard and kohlrabi so I’m succession sowing each row a week apart.

Square foot gardening in the raised bed

My asparagus survived the winter and are starting to send up new shoots. The swiss chard, which was the rock star of last summer’s garden, has started sprouting as well.

Swiss chard and asparagus shoots

I also get to garden at work, at least for the next few months. Our summer exhibit at the Pink Palace is Wicked Plants, which was put together by the North Carolina Arboretum and is based on Amy Stewart’s book of the same name. My boss decided that he wanted to add a live poison garden to the exhibit, and, since I’m the one who realized that we needed to start ordering plants a month ago, I’m in charge of plant procurement and propagation. (Incidentally, today’s post is brought to you by the letter p.)

Sweet peas for the Pink Palace’s poison garden in this summer’s Wicked Plants exhibit

I’m spending a lot of time with my hands in the dirt these days. I’m still making it up as I go, and I love it.

Fugitive at the Museum

Here’s another piece of weird Pink Palace and Memphis history that I wrote for the museum’s blog:

The Pink Palace Family of Museums

October 24, 1950, started as a normal day at the Memphis Museum. Visitors explored the galleries and looked at exhibits of animal heads, glass, documents and fossils. One of those afternoon visitors was James Eddington who made a trip to the museum as part of his vacation to Memphis. Eddington lived in Kentucky and worked as the farm manager at the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange, KY. As he walked through the exhibits, he noticed another museum guest who looked familiar. He recognized the man as an escaped prisoner from the Kentucky Reformatory.

Chester Merrifield was serving prison time for robbery when he decided to make an escape. He had been in Memphis for a few days and struck up a “close friendship” with a Memphis businessman. The police elected to withhold the name of the “well known Memphian” who drove Merrifield to the museum. When Eddington recognized Merrifield, he…

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Memphis Pink Palace Museum Murals – Memphis TN

In museum-related, crowd sourced history news, I submitted the Pink Palace’s PWAP murals done by Burton Callicott to UC Berkeley’s Living New Deal site. While you’re there, poke around and see the long reach and legacy of FDR’s federal programs:

Memphis Pink Palace Museum Murals – Memphis TN.

You can also read more about the murals in my new post for the museum’s blog:

The Callicott Murals.

Memphis’ First Museum

Another post on the Pink Palace blog. This one is about the Cossitt Museum Room. Check it out!

The Pink Palace Family of Museums

The first museum in Memphis was a room on the second floor of the tower over the entrance to the Cossitt Library. The Cossitt Library was completed in 1893 and was funded though the bequest of Frederick Cossitt. Cossitt was a Connecticut born entrepreneur who maintained a wholesale dry goods business in Memphis until the Civil War. He promised his friend Carrington Mason that he would make a gift of a public library to the city. When he died in 1887, his will did not include the Memphis library, but his heirs decided to give money for the building anyway.

Cossitt Library 1893
The library’s statement of purpose specified that the Cossitt Library was “To establish and maintain a free public Museum…” As part of this objective, after the 1897 Tennessee Centennial celebration, the elite Memphis women who had composed the city’s Centennial Board and the wives of the library’s board of directors…

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