Friday, December 28, 2012

L.H. Bailey appears in, The Native Landscape Reader

    When it comes to school allegiances, the green colored gridiron may always cast The University of Michigan and Michigan State University as the eternal warring opposites. When it comes to the cultivated patch of green, acrimony is passe as witnessed in U of M's Robert E. Grese's inclusion of MSU alum, Liberty Hyde Bailey in his volume, The Native Landscape Reader (Critical Perspectives in the History of Environmental Design) .
     Robert E. Grese, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Michigan, describes Bailey as, "one of the seminal figures in American Horticulture, plant science, landscape gardening, and conservation in the twentieth century." This volume features selections from Bailey's, The Outlook to Nature along with Grese's trove of luminaries culled from his research including Frederick Law Olmsted, Jens Jensen, Andrew Jackson Downing, Horace William Shaler Cleveland, and O.C. Simonds.
    This gives us a good excuse to revisit a selection from Bailey's gem of a book. As Bailey explained, "The outlook  to nature is the outlook to optimism, for nature is our governing condition." Enjoy!_______________

The out-of-doors.
By nature, I mean the natural out-of-doors, — the snow and the rain, the sky, the plants, the animals, the garden and the orchard, the running brooks, and every landscape that is easy of access and undefiled.
     Every person desires these things in greater or lesser degree: this is indicated by the rapidly spreading suburban movement, by the vacationing in the country, and by the astonishing multiplication of books about nature. Yet there are comparatively very few persons who have any intimate contact with nature, or any concrete enjoyment from it, because they lack the information that enables them to understand the objects and phenomena.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Here is a little mediation from L.H. Bailey on the liberating aspects of winter from his collection of poetry, Wind and Weather:


Snow to my knees, shivering blasts
Piercing slivers of ice and sleet
Creaking trees all rigid and gaunt
Clouds that drive in the wind-wild vasts
Houses clean gone from field and street
Footways buried to stall and haunt,—

Ah winter, old winter, so braggartly hurled,
Unfrightened we stand on the top of your world,
Unprisoned and free as the birds that are whirled
When blizzards are loosed and the tempests are sent— .

Unhurried we wait till your furies are spent.

Wide is the world of the drifting snow
Wide over the waste the white rifts go
Travelling on with a ceaseless flow
Out to the voids we never shall know.

Frog insect and snake lie fast lie tight
Hidden and snug in pocketed deeps,
But we are alive come green come white
The year is ours while the 'neath-world sleeps,—
Ours with rabbit's track
and mouse's trail
With grasses frayed
and rough trees snow-limbed
Fence-drift's clean curl
and the seed-pod's sail
Stumps white-turbanned
and deep creeks ice-rimmed.

Crunch and crunch through the white snapping crust
With frigid bush and summer's dead stalk
Where earth lies deep and ice-piles are thrust,
The trackless ways are the ways we walk,—

Walk out and out with the swirling snow
On to the realms of bluster and blow
Where ghosts of the years of long ago
Shriek thro' the hills to caverns below.

Stript to the bone is the wind-worn year
Cover and mask and ornament gone—
Clear as days to the sight of the seer
We understand when the veil is withdrawn.

Come on, ye storms! Together we reach
Past and outpast the timid alarms—
This is our day; and over the breach
We go the way of the warmthless farms.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

There Are No Parties In Science

As we enter a presidential election cycle, a common theme reemerging is the growing partisanship in the country. L.H. Bailey, in Ground-Levels in Democracy (1916) offers another view in regarding politics and the polarizing need to have one's opinion rule over substance and fact.   

   For a public officer we want a person who thinks as we do: this is what political parties mean. If we were scientific, we would want an officer because he were best qualified. Our method of government rests on this partisanship,—on my side and your side, the pros and cons, the ins and outs, the saints and sinners, the democrats and republicans. It is said that in the nature of things and in the quality of the human mind, the life of the race must be partisan. We are told that there is good and evil, a proposition, however, not capable of proof; that there is day and night, but the day and the night both are continuous and they merely pass over us where we stand; that there is up and down, but not one of us knows at this moment whether he is on his head or on his feet. The processes of nature are all continuous and we interpret the contrasts as if they were essential differences in substance.
     There are no parties in science. There may be difference of opinion when we do not yet know the truth, and variations in interpretation, and personal antagonisms between those whose science does not reach to the heart; but government at present is organized partisanship. A merchant is not partisan in his shop, nor a manufacturer in his factory, nor a farmer on his farm, nor a teacher in his class-room; but at the polls these persons think they are not citizens unless they have opinions which are correct because they hold them. This long-continued practice solidifies opinion and makes it impregnable to evidence; we come at length to substitute habit for reason.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Not All the People Should Live on Salary

L.H. Bailey (left) at his home in Ithaca, New York
A mediation from L.H. Bailey for Labor Day
Not all the people should live on salary.
I think that we need the example and influence of men who do not live on salary. One reason why boys leave the farm is because in other occupations they are offered wages or salary, and the risk of livelihood is thereby reduced; but the very lessening of this risk sacrifices much of a man's self-reliance, — it loses him his independence, not only in directly securing the means of support, but, what is more serious, in his attitude toward society.
     Salary-practice is a concomitant of organization, and it goes with social stratification. The man who receives salary exclusively depends on some one else, and his opinions are controlled, or at least modified, thereby. Often to a very large extent he loses his autonomy. There is a general feeling among salaried men that they must engage inother business in unsalaried hours, not always so much, I think, because they desire to add to their income, as to satisfy the longing for some greater measure of independence.
     The farmer is about the only man left who lives directly on his own efforts, without the aid of salary, speculation, or the non-intrinsic profits that accrue from trade. There is a tendency to organize agriculture, and thereby to develop salaries in it; this tendency is no doubt to be commended, yet I look with some apprehension to the effect that it may have on independent effort and opinion. Outlook to Nature, - L.H. Bailey

Sunday, August 19, 2012

15 Days Left of Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey

There is only 15 days left to view, "Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey: Plants, Places, and People." View the world through the eyes of America's Father of Modern Horticulture, Liberty Hyde Bailey. The exhibit closes September 15th. The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum is open, Thursday-Sunday, 9-4 pm. Today we offer a another wonderful extension of the exhibit.

Many times in warm countries I have been told that the climate has transcendent merit because there is no winter. But to me this lack is its disadvantage. There are things to see, things to do, things to think about in the winter as in the spring. There is interest in the winter wayside, in the hibernating insects, in the few hardy birds, and the deserted nests, in the fretwork of the weeds against the snow, in the strong outlines of the trees, in the snow-shapes, in the cold deep sky. To many persons these strong alternations of the seasons emphasizeand punctuate the life. They are the mountains and the valleys. The winter is a part of the naturalist's year. -L.H. Bailey, The Nature Study Idea

Sunday, August 12, 2012

L.H. Bailey Featured in New "Ink Trails" Book

Authors Dave and Jack Dempsey know well their state of Michigan and its richness in culture. Their new book Ink Trails: Michigan's Famous and Forgotten Authors —the first of its kind— explores the secrets, legends, and myths surrounding some of Michigan’s literary luminaries including South Haven’s own Liberty Hyde Bailey. 
    You can purchase the book through our blog link above and also meet co-author/historian Jack Dempsey on Saturday, September 8th, from 3-5 at Lake Michigan College, South Haven Campus. Here is an excerpt.

    "The fruit orchards blanketing the Southwest Michigan hills all the way to the vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula might be described as Bailey Country. Lake-moderated breezes nurture trees and shrubs bursting with produce. And if production itself were not enough, the landscape all up and down the West Michigan shore surely would delight Bailey today, with field upon sun-embraced field reaching as far as the eye can see.
     Bailey’s ego never outgrew the humble setting of his childhood:

      I do not yet know why plants come out of the land or float in streams, or creep on rocks or roll   from the sea. I am entranced by the mystery of them, and absorbed by their variety and kinds. Everywhere they are visible yet everywhere occult.

     He never lost his fascination with the natural world—discovering new plants, or determining how to keep farmers more in tune with the land they should love. Bailey had no such lack, having grown up in the embrace of the family farm. This experience deeply influenced him throughout his long life, for he would vouch that his writings “all came out of South Haven. My roots are here and my experiences here must enter into my consciousness. All life comes out of childhood.” Growing from the fertile West Michigan soil, the life it yielded would enrich many a printed page." 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

L.H. Bailey, The Indiana Jones of Botanists

L.H. Bailey with daughter, Ethel and their burro Socrates.
After his retirement from Cornell University in 1914, Liberty Hyde Bailey inaugurated a career as a plant explorer with the sole objective of increasing knowledge of the world’s plants. In 1929, Bailey undertook an exploration with his daughter Ethel to the Los Llanos (the plains) of the Orinoco River. Featured here are personal photos and a journal segment of this trip.

We had been a long journey and were now on the llanos of the middle Orinoco. We had seen ranges of mountains and alluring summits, rain-forests choked with tropical verdure and punctuated with gaudy-colored birds, sights strange and fascinating, and had tramped in many places where the vegetation was striking and abundant for we are botanical collectors. Today we were far away on our burros and had dismounted in the shade near a stream that was cool and refreshing in this torrid climate. It was a tributary of the mighty Orinoco River, and in comparison was tame and unexciting. We found good things along the shore. Then we spied a tiny islet in the stream, a bit of flat land that had been surrounded by high water. It had no attractive vegetation as we saw it from the shore, merely a green cover of grass-like things. When I reached the islet I found it was three feet wide and ten feet long. Under my feet I saw strange leaves and stems. I got on my knees and began to gather diminutive things that I had not found before. Some of them were only a inch or two high. Once apparently the area has been grazed, perhaps before the high water came. The plants had adapted themselves to this circumstance by blooming and seeding at these puny dimensions, and this was the first of the wonders. About a dozen distinct kinds of plants I overtook on that minikin world, and of one of them I discovered but a single specimen and the only one of its kind I found in Venezuela. It is a pigmy thing, as thin as a thread and less than four inches high, so frail that you could not measure its worth in gold. I suppose the reason why I found it here and not elsewhere was because my eyes were close to the ground and I was intent on every tiny object. Often indeed we look to far away for our treasures and stand too much aloof from what in our superiority we call the trivial things. Yet far away in that lonely bit in South America where probably no collector ever went before or will ever go again that little plant lived its own life successfully, made its seeds and trusted them to the kindly earth, and was blessed by sun and night and rain. That islet will always be a green place in my memory for the things I found and the emotions I felt: it is my Treasure Island. -L.H. Bailey to Russel Lord, December 16, 1929

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What is Horticulture?

 Liberty Hyde Bailey has been dubbed the, "American Father of Modern Horticulture" but most people would be hard pressed to give a definition of horticulture or feel that they should know, feeling the tinge of embarrassment. However, we don't need to be embarrassed. Bailey himself wrested with it. Let's see what Bailey thought of the word:

Etymologically, horticulture means the cultivation of a garden (hortus, garden, cultura, cultivation); and as all intelligent cultivation rests upon many scientific principles, both the art and science of garden cultivation should be included in the definition. The scope of the definition turns upon the meaning of the word garden. This word comes directly from the Anglo-Saxon gyrdan, to enclose, and is allied to the verb to gird; and indirectly it is allied to the Latin hortus, which originally related to an enclosure. - L.H. Bailey, Annals of Horticulture 1891

Annette Bailey at Ithaca family garden
I suppose that we will always dispute as to what horticulture comprises. I have tried several times to define it...The older I grow, the less I care to define anything. Definitions are at best only formal attempts to express what we already know by experience; and experience is always our guide. By general consent, various arts are loosely assembled under the one word horticulture. How long this one word will be held to cover the entire group, no one can tell, nor is it much worth while to speculate or prophesy. I have come to feel that prophesying is poor business for ordinary folk: if we do our work well and with hopeful enthusiasm, the prophesy will come as the flower comes out of the bud. Therefore, I am well content to let horticulture be merely horticulture, and to be happy that it has fallen to my lot to dally and to work in such a delightful field. -L.H. Bailey, Recent Progress in American Horticulture, 1908

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey" - Exhibit Extension

Falls- Ithaca, New York
Nearly 200 glass plate images, taken by Liberty Hyde Bailey at the turn of the 20th century, have been digitally scanned and are now preserved at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum, South Haven, Michigan. It is these images that comprise the museum's first exhibit, "Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey." For today's snapshot we offer a very deserving image that did not make it into the exhibit. More to come!

     By nature, I mean the natural out-of doors,—the snow and the rain, the sky, the plants, the animals, the running brooks,and every landscape that is easy of access and undefiled. Every person desires these things in greater or lesser degree: this is indicated by the rapidly spreading suburban movement, by the vacationing in the country, and by the astonishing multiplication of books about nature. Yet there are comparatively very few who have any intimate contact with nature, or any concrete enjoyment from it, because they lack information that enables them to understand the objects and phenomena.
    The currents of civilization tend always to take us out of our environment rather than to fit us into it. We must recast our habits of thought so as to set our faces nature-ward. This is far more important than any effort at mere simplicity or toward lopping off the redundancies: it is fundamental direction and point of view.
    The outlook to nature is the outlook to what is real, and hearty, and spontaneous. -L.H. Bailey, Outlook to Nature

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Snapshot from the Exhibit, "Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey: Plants, Places & People"

Bailiwick ca. 1900s.
The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum's exhibit, "Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey," continues to turn heads. The show runs through September 15th. For the next months, we will feature a rare image digtially restored from Bailey's glass plate negatives. Enjoy!

The income from his varied and popular horticultural books enabled Liberty Hyde Bailey to establish a modest country place on the west shore of Cayuga Lake about six miles north of Ithaca, New York. Using stones from the nearby fields, Bailey built a comfortable stone cottage. He called the retreat Bailiwick. For his family it was a wonderful summer home; for Bailey it provided an opportunity to study nature.
    During the summer and early fall, Bailiwick became the scene of many outings for faculty and students in Cornell’s Horticultural Department. Later, Bailey donated Bailiwick to the local Girl Scouts chapter, which converted the place into a center for nature study and summer day camp which is still in use.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Brown Bag Biology, "Art and Taxonomy: Rediscovering the Photography of L. H. Bailey"

L.H. Bailey's photo of pomegranates.
The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum in South Haven will host its first Brown Bag Biology event of the summer, titled "Art and Taxonomy: Rediscovering the Photography of L. H. Bailey," this Friday, June 29, from 12:30-1:30. This event comes after the well-attended grand opening of the premier summer exhibit of Bailey's photography, "Through the Lens of L. H. Bailey." Liberty Hyde Bailey, South Haven's favorite son, was known for his many and diverse talents -- but few people know he was also an avid and talented photographer. Organizing this summer's premier exhibit, "Through the Lens of L. H. Bailey," has given the museum staff plenty of fresh insight into Bailey's photographic skills, as well as a deeper understanding of the man's science, aesthetics, and philosophy. Bring along a bag lunch and join the museum staff as they explore the themes of art and taxonomy through Bailey's unique and beautiful photography. This event is free and open to the public -- so bring a friend and meet under the museum's black walnut tree!
The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum is located at 903 South Bailey Avenue, South Haven.  Summer hours are 9:00-4:00. The museum and this program are free to the public. For more information, email, call (269) 637-3251, visit, or Like the museum on Facebook.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey: Plants, Places and People," Opens

The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum (LHBM) of South Haven, Michigan is pleased to present “Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey”, its premiere photo exhibition of the works by Liberty Hyde Bailey. The exhibit runs through September 15. The installation features nearly thirty works by Bailey, including plant life studies, family portraits, home life, and the Bailey estate culled from the museum’s collection of one-hundred glass plate negatives. In addition, the exhibition will be supported by archival material from The Liberty Hyde Bailey Horitorium, Cornell University and the LHBM’s collections, including artifacts, documents, and books from their Bailey library.
Exhibit Members Only Preview on June 22nd.
 Born in 1858 in South Haven, Liberty Hyde Bailey Jr. became known as, “America’s Father of Modern Horticulture.” A naturalist at heart, Bailey’s childhood passion for learning about the living world around him, brought him acclaim for his visionary work in botany, education, environmentalism, and horticulture. When Bailey learned to use a camera in 1886, his goal was not to create outstanding images, but to document plant life. Bailey’s eye for beauty and his affinity for the natural world became evident in his graceful compositions. “Is it not strange that all our galleries are indoors? […] Yet the world of out-of-doors is the real source of art and the real gallery; all our best galleries and best buildings are but adaptions, imitations, and interpretations” (L.H. Bailey) 
    The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum is proud to be part of the national Blue Star Museums initiative. While admission to the museum is always free, active-duty military and their family (up to 5) will receive free admission to this special exhibit. General admission to the exhibit is $5. Student/Senior admission: $3. Kids 5 & under are free and members of the museum are free.

ABOUT THE LHBM The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum is the homestead and birth site of America’s Father of Modern Horticulture. Constructed in 1857 by Liberty Hyde Bailey Sr., the museum is one of the oldest standing homes in South Haven, Michigan and was part of the Bailey farm that encompassed nearly eighty acres of land. In addition to artifacts belonging to the Bailey family, the museum also contains an extensive library of out of print books, magazines, bulletins, encyclopedias, and personal letters by Liberty Hyde Bailey. The museum grounds also host period gardens, including an heirloom vegetable garden and a wildflower trail. The museum is open Thursday through Sunday 9-4. We welcome you, your friends, and your family to come and discover one of history’s most interesting individuals.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mich. Museums Offer Military Families Free Tickets

The Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum is proud to be part of the national Blue Star Museums initiative, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 1,500 museums across America. The program starts on Memorial Day (Monday May 28, 2012) and runs through Labor Day (Monday, September 3, 2012). While admission to the museum is always free, active-duty military and their family members (military ID holder and up to five family members) will receive free admission to the museum's new exhibit, "Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey: Plants, Places and People," opening to the public on Saturday, June 23rd.  General admission to this special exhibit is $5. Student/Senior Admission: $3. Kids 5 & under are free and members of the museum are free.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Birds and I

The springtime belongs to the birds and me. We own it. We know when the Mayflowers and the buttercups bloom. We know when the first frogs peep. We watch the awakening of the woods. We are wet by the warm April showers. We go where I we will, and we are companions. Every tree and I brook and blade of grass is ours; and our hearts are full of song.
There are boys who kill the birds, and girls who want to catch them and put them in cages; and there are others who steal their eggs. The birds are not partners with them; they are only servants. Birds, like people, sing for their friends, not for their masters. I am sure that one cannot think much of the springtime and the flowers if his heart is always set upon killing or catching something. We are happy when we are free; and so are the birds.

Stuffed birds do not sing and empty eggs do not hatch. Then let us go to the fields and watch the birds. Sit down on the soft grass and try to make out what the robin is doing on yonder fence or why the wren is bursting with song in the thicket. An opera-glass or spy-glass will bring them close to you. Try to find out not only what the colors and shapes and sizes are, but what their habits are. What does the bird eat? How much does it eat? Where is its nest? How many eggs does it lay? What color are they? How long does the mother bird sit? Does the father bird care for her when she is sitting? How long do the young birds remain in the nest? Who feeds them? What are they fed? Is there more than one brood in a season? Where do the birds go after breeding? Do they change their plumage? Are the mother birds and father birds unlike in size or color? How many kinds of birds do you know?
     These are some of the things that every boy or girl wants to know; and we can find out by watching the birds! There is no harm in visiting the nests, if one does it in the right way. I have visited hundreds of them and have kept many records of the number of eggs and the dates when they were laid, how long before they hatched, and when the birds flew away; and the birds took no offense at my inquisitiveness. These are some of the cautions to be observed: Watch only those nests which can be seen without climbing, for if you have to climb the tree the birds will resent it. Make the visit when the birds are absent, if possible; at least, never scare the bird from the nest. Do not touch the eggs or the nest. Make your visit very short. Make up your mind just what you want to see, then look in quickly and pass on. Do not go too often; once or twice a day will be sufficient. Do not take the other children with you, for you are then likely to stay too long and to offend the birds.

    Now let us see how intimately you can become acquainted with some bird this summer. -L.H. Bailey, exerpt from, The Birds and I

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Common Things

Often indeed we look too far away for our treasures and stand too much aloof from what in our superiority we call the trivial things…Everywhere that I have been I look for the “common” things, so little noted that they are the uncommon. The great views and the resplendent objects do not make us content, not until the trivial and the common have meaning to us. - L.H. Bailey, unpublished manuscript

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Holy Earth for Earth Day

We have assumed that there is no obligation to an inanimate thing, as we consider the earth to be: but man should respect the conditions in which he is placed; the earth yields the living creature; man is a living creature; science constantly narrows the gulf between the animate and the inanimate, between the organized and the inorganized; evolution derives the creatures from the earth; the creation is one creation. I must accept all or reject all.
It is good to live. We talk of death and of lifelessness, but we know only of life. Even our prophecies of death are prophecies of more life. We know no better world: whatever else there may be is of things hoped for, not of things seen. The objects are here, not hidden nor far to seek: And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.
    These good things are the present things and the living things. The account is silent on the things that were not created, the chaos, the darkness, the abyss. Plato, in the "Republic," reasoned that the works of the creator must be good because the creator is good. This goodness is in the essence of things; and we sadly need to make it a part in our philosophy of life. The earth is the scene of our life, and probably the very source of it. The heaven, so far as human beings know, is the source only of death; in fact, we have peopled it with the dead. We have built our philosophy on the dead.
    We seem to have overlooked the goodness of the earth in the establishing of our affairs, and even in our philosophies. It is reserved as a theme for preachers and for poets. And yet, the goodness of the planet is the basic fact in our existence. -L.H. Bailey, The Holy Earth

Thursday, April 19, 2012

L.H. Bailey Message for Earth Day

The planet is part of a program we do not comprehend but in which we may partake. We manipulate the surface of the earth for good or for ill. We must keep and protect the heritage for the millions who are to come after us. This is a moral obligation. We did not make the earth. We have received it and its bounties. If it is beyond us, so is it divine. We have inescapable responsibilities. It is our privilege so to comprehend the use of the earth as to develop a spiritual stature. When the epoch of mere exploitation of the earth shall have worn itself out, we shall realize the heritage that remains and enter new realms of satisfaction. -L.H. Bailey, Retrospect for The Holy Earth, 1943

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Country Point of View

     Half of country life is in the living. It is in the point of view. It is in the way in which we look at things. Thoreau rejoiced when it rained, because he knew that his beans were happy. One day my man was agitated because the woodchucks were eating the beans. He would go to town at once and buy a gun. I asked him how many beans the woodchucks would probably destroy. He thought from one-eighth to one-quarter of an acre. Now, one-quarter of an acre of field beans should bring me a net cash return of three or four dollars. I told him that he could not buy a gun for that money. If he had a gun, he would waste more time killing the woodchucks than the beans would be worth. But the worst part of it would be that he would kill the woodchucks, and at daylight, morning after morning, I had watched the animals as they stole from the bushes, sniffed the morning air, and nibbled the crisp young leaves. Many a time I had spent twice four dollars for much less entertainment. -L.H. Bailey, Farm and Forest, 1911

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Three Pieces of Advice if You Want to Become A Farmer

   City life is a social machine; or, rather, it is a congeries of machines. A few men are managers and engineers, but the ninety and nine are cogs and pins and links. Most men desire to be cogs, or at least they are willing to be. The daily life is a routine which is made and prepared. Having reached a position that insures a comfortable financial return, the struggle for existence is reduced to its lowest terms, and the person is content. Now and then a person longs for a broader view, more dependence on personal initiative, a more perfect individualism. Perhaps such a person may not go on a farm, but he may consider it.
     This, then, is the first advice that I can give you, if you think of leaving the city to become a farmer, — do not consider the proposition for a moment unless your ideal is individualistic. You are to depend on yourself. You are to make your own way. You are to live your own life. You must be resourceful.
Of course you are to work in cooperation with your fellow farmers, and cooperation will be more necessary every year; but you are to be your own manager.
    My second advice is this, — be sure that you love the country and everything there is in it. Be sure that you do not go with the feeling that you are giving up the pleasures of life. Be sure that a dandelion is worth as much as a theater. You are to be company for yourself. The birds will sing as no opera singer ever sang. The flowers will bloom in the meadows. The brooks will laugh on the pebbles and sleep under the banks. The clouds will float above you. Be sure that your heart is ripe before you move to the country.
    My third advice is that you learn farming. A farmer could not expect to succeed in a city business until he had learned it; and perhaps his type of mind would be such that he could never learn it. Neither can a city man expect to succeed in a farming occupation until he has learned the facts and the business of farming. Books and periodicals and bulletins will help, but they are only helps; the business must be learned by actually working in it, as any other business must be learned. The city man can not expect to revolutionize farming. If any revolution comes, it is to be worked out by farmers, whether they are city bred or country bred.
    You must not be afraid to work with your hands. At times the work will be hard, and the days will be cold or hot. This you are to accept as part of the business; but if your mind is right, labor will be its own reward.
    My city friend must remember that farming is a family business. A single man can hardly expect to be a thoroughly successful and satisfied farmer. So I hope that you have a wife. If she thinks as you do about the country, the problem is half solved. If her heart is wedded to the city, stay where you are. I hope you have children, — and what healthy, natural child under twelve years of age would not love the country?- L.H. Bailey, Farm and Forest, 1911

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Demand for Cheap Food is Fallacious

The demand for cheap food is fallacious. Pressing down the cost of food has one or all of three results on the producers of it (and its effect on the producers is a vital concern with us as citizens of a State): We reduce the standards of living of the producers in our own country; we exploit the cheap labor and cheap lands of new and remote countries; or we live on the products of peasantry in other countries. These three are the same, considered in the human result. If we are glad to meet the problem of maintaining the standard of living for workingmen, we must be equally glad to maintain it for farmers. There are reasons why we should not attempt the same program for farmers as for workingmen: our problem is to be willing to pay as much for food and other farm products as is necessary for the maintenance of the standard of living on the farms. -L.H. Bailey, What is Democracy? 1918

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Liberty Hyde Bailey

"we have another son a full Blooded Yankee boy... Mother said to Sarah if she ever had another one she wanted to name it... we sent to her for a name... we think it will be L.H. Jun... the boy smart and bright as a dollar...born the 15 of March and weighed 7 1/2 lbs." Letter from Liberty Hyde Bailey, Sr. to his parents, March 22, 1858.

It is a marvelous planet on which we ride. It is a great privilege to live thereon, to partake in the journey, and to experience its goodness. We may co-operate rather than rebel. We should try to find the meanings rather than to be satisfied only with the spectacles. My life has been a continuous fulfillment of dreams.-L. H. Bailey. “Words Said About A Birthday”, 1948, Printed on the occasion of Liberty Hyde Bailey's ninetieth birthday celebration

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Put Walks Where They Are Needed

    Put walks where they are needed-this is the universal rule; but be sure they are needed. In the beginning you will think you need more than you actually do need. How to get the proper curve? Perhaps you do not need a curve. There are two fixed points in every walk-the beginning and the ending. Some walks lack either one or the other of these points, and I have seen some that seemed to lack both. Go from one point to the other in the easiest and simplest way possible. If you can throw in a gentle curve, you may enhance the charm of it; and you may not. Directness and convenience should never be sacrificed for mere looks- for "looks" has no reason for being unless it is related to something.
    For main walks that are much used, cement and stone flagging are good materials, because they are durable and they keep down the weeds. There is no trouble in making a durable cement or artificial stone walk in the northern climates if the underdrainage is good and the cement is "rich." For informal walks, the natural loam may be good; or sharp gravel that will pack; or cinders; or tan-bark. For very narrow walks or trails in the back yard I like to sink a ten-inch-wide plank to the level of the sod. It marks the direction, allows you dry passage, the lawn-mower passes over it, and it will last for several years with no care whatever. In flower gardens, a strip of sod may be left as a walk; but the disadvantage of it is that it retains dews and the water of rainfall too long. Some of the most delightful periods for viewing the garden are the early morning and the "clearing spell" after a shower.  L.H. Bailey, The Spirit of the Home Garden, How to make a flower garden: a manual of practical information and suggestions, 1903

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Spirit of the Home Garden

    There are as many forms and kinds of gardens as there are persons who have gardens; and this is one reason why the garden appeals to every one, and why it may become the expression of personality. You need follow no man's plan. The simplest garden is likely to be the best, merely because it is the expression of a simple and teachable life.
Grow the plants that you want, but do not want too many. Most persons when they make a garden order a quantity of labels. Fatal mistake! Labels are for collections of plants- -collections so big that you cannot remember, and when you cannot remember you lose the intimacy, and when you lose the intimacy you lose the essence of the garden. -L.H., Bailey, The Spirit of the Home Garden in, How to make a flower garden: a manual of practical information and suggestions, 1903

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fancy Clothing is One of the Greatest Obstacles to a Knowledge of Nature

Fancy clothing is one of the greatest obstacles to a knowledge of nature: in this regard, the farm boy has an immense advantage. It is a misfortune not to have gone barefoot in one's youth. A man cannot be a naturalist in patent-leather shoes. The perfecting of the manufacture of elaborate and fragile fabrics correlates well with our growing habit of living indoors. Our clothing is made chiefly for fair weather; when it becomes worn we use it for stormy weather, although it may be in no respect stormy weather clothing. If our clothes are not made for the weather, then we have failed to adapt ourselves to our environment, and we are in worse state than the beasts of the field. Much of our clothing serves neither art nor utility. Nothing can be more prohibitive of an interest in nature than a millinery "hat," even though it be distinguished for its floriculture, landscape gardening, and natural history.
L. H. Bailey, The Outlook to Nature, 1905

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Planning a L.H. Bailey Vegetable Garden

Need a plan for a veggie garden? Here is one directly from L.H. Bailey himself along with some timely thoughts on the satisfaction of having a garden!

As millions of people do not have gardens, so are they unaware of the low quality of much of the commercial produce as compared with things well grown in due season. Most persons, depending on the market, do not know what a superlative watermelon is like. Even such apparently indestructible things as cucumbers have a crispness and delicacy when taken directly from the vine at proper maturity that are lost to the store-window supply. Every vegetable naturally loses something of itself in the process from field to consumer. When to this is added the depreciation by storage, careless exposure and rough handling, one cannot expect to receive the full odor and the characteristic delicacies that belong to the product in nature. We must also remember the long distances over which much of the produce must be transported, and the necessity to pick the produce before it is really fit, to meet the popular desire to have vegetables out of season and when we ought not to want them. There is a time and place for everything, vegetables with the rest. Modern methods of marketing, storing and handling have facilitated transactions, and they have also done very much to safeguard the produce itself and to deliver it to the customer in good condition; but the vegetable well chosen and well grown and fresh from the garden is nevertheless the proper standard of excellence. It is a surpassing satisfaction when the householder may go to her own garden rather than to the store for her lettuce, onions, tomatoes, beets, peas, cabbage, melons, and other things good to see and to eat, and to have them in generous supply. -L.H. Bailey, The Principles of Vegetable-Gardening, 1921

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bailey on Evolution & the Rights of Others

    Evolution is the point of view of otherism and altruism.
It was the old idea that the earth is the center of the universe: this geocentric doctrine Copernicus disproved. It was the old idea that all things exist merely to please man: this hominocentric doctrine Darwin disproved.
    Every animal and plant lives for itself and apparently as completely as if man had never existed. The recognition of this fact is one of the first steps toward a real regard for the rights of others, and consequently toward elimination of selfishness. Yet we still seem to think that every animal and plant was created for some purpose other than for itself, and we are always asking what every organism is "for." -L.H. Bailey, The Outlook to Nature, 1915

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bailey on the Growing of Vegetable Plants

More sage advice from L.H. Bailey on vegetable gardening!

A Vegetable garden is admittedly a part of any home place that has a good rear area. A purchased vegetable is never the same as one taken from a man's own soil and representing his own effort and solicitude.
     It is essential to any satisfaction in vegetable-growing that the be rich and thoroughly subdued and fined. The plantation should also be so arranged that the tilling can be done with wheel tools, and, where the space will allow it, with horse tools. The old-time garden bed (Fig. 291) consumes time and labor, wastes moisture, and is more trouble and expense than it is worth.
     The rows of vegetables should be as long and continuous as possible, to allow of tillage with wheel tools. If it is not desired sow a full row of any one vegetable, the line may be made up of several species, one following the other, care being taken to place together such kinds as have similar requirements; one row, for example, might contain all the parsnips, carrots, and salsify. One or two long rows containing a dozen kinds of vegetables are usually preferable to a dozen short rows, each with one kind of vegetable.
...It is by no means necessary that the vegetable-garden contain only kitchen-garden products. Flowers may be dropped in here and there wherever a vacant corner occurs or a plant dies. Such informal and mixed gardens usually have a personal character that adds greatly to their interest, and, therefore, to their value.
... It was the writer's pleasure to look over the fence of a Bavarian peasant's garden and to see, on a space about 40 feet by 100 feet in area, a delightful medley of onions, pole beans, peonies, celery, balsams, gooseberries, coleus, cabbages, sunflowers, beets, poppies, cucumbers, morning-glories, kohl-rabi, verbenas, bush beans, pinks, stocks, currants, wormwood, parsley, carrots, kale, perennial phlox, nasturtiums, feverfew, lettuce, lilies!- L.H. Bailey, Manual of Gardening

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Bailey's View on Growing Annuals

Liberty Hyde Bailey wrote that, "The best gardener is one who does the most gardening by the winter fire.” And here we are folks. Nursery catalogs are filling mailboxes and the big box stores are moving out the half-off Christmas decorations for the Burpee display. Here is some timeless advice from America's Father of Modern Horticulture regarding annuals as we get ready for another growing season.

ANNUAL plants are those that you must sow every year. From seed to seed is only a year or less. Annual plants probably comprise half the flowering plants of the world. They quickly take advantage of the moving seasons,— grow, blossom and die before they are caught by the blight of winter or of the parching dry season. They are shifty plants, now growing here, then absconding to other places. This very uncertainty and capriciousness makes them worth the while. The staid perennials I want for the main and permanent effects in my garden, but I could no more do without annuals than I could without the spices and the condiments at the table. They are flowers of a season: I like flowers of a season.
    Of the kinds of annuals there is almost no end. This does not mean that all are equally good. For myself, I like to make the bold effects with a few of the old profuse and reliable kinds. I like whole masses and clouds of them. Then the other kinds I like to grow in smaller areas at one side, in a half experimental way. There is no need of trying to grow equal quantities of all the kinds that you select. There is no emphasis and no modulation in such a scheme. There should be major and minor keys.
    The minor keys may be of almost any kind of plant. Since these plants are semi-experimental, it does not matter if some of them fail outright. Why not begin the list at "A" and buy as many as you can afford and can accommodate this year, then continue the list next year? In five or ten years you will have grown the alphabet and will have learned as much horticulture and botany as most persons learn in a college course. And some of these plants will become your permanent friends.
    For the main and bold effects I want something that I can depend on. There I do not want to experiment. Never fill a conspicuous place with a kind of plant that you have never grown.
    The kinds I like best are the ones easiest to grow. My personal equation, I suppose, determines this. Zinnia, petunia, marigold, four o'clock, sunflower, phlox, scabiosa, sweet sultan, bachelor's button, verbena, calendula, calliopsis, morning-glory, nasturtium, sweet pea,—these are some of the kinds that are surest and least attacked by bugs and fungi. I do not know where the investment of five cents will bring as great reward as in a packet of seeds of any of these plants.
    Before one sets out to grow these or any other plants, he must make for himself an ideal. Will he grow for a garden effect, or for specimen plants or specimen blooms? If for specimens, then each plant must have plenty of room and receive particular individual care. If for garden effect, then see to it that the entire space is solidly covered, and that you have a continuous maze of color. Usually the specimen plants would best be grown in a side garden, as vegetables are, where they can be tilled, trained and severally cared for.
    There is really a third ideal, and I hope that some of you may try it,—to grow all the varieties of one species. You really do not know what the China aster or the balsam is until you have seen all the kinds of it. Suppose that you ask your seedsman to send you one packet of every variety of cockscomb that he has. Next year you may want to try stocks or annual poppies, or something else. All this will be a study in evolution.
    There is still a fourth ideal,— the growing for gathering or "picking." If you want many flowers for house decoration and to give away, then grow them at one side in regular rows as you would potatoes or sweet corn. Cultivate them by horse or wheelhoe. Harvest them in the same spirit that you would harvest string beans or tomatoes: that is what they are for. You do not have to consider the "looks" of your garden. The old stalks will remain, as the stumps of cabbages do. You will not be afraid to pick them. When you have harvested an armful your garden is not despoiled. - L.H. Bailey, Country Life in America, Volume 4, 1903 (see the full article here: ANNUALS )

Monday, January 30, 2012

Was L.H. Bailey a Racist?

    In a recent January post on Thornapple CSA's blog, Paul B. Thompson, the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University, made the striking claim that Liberty Hyde Bailey was a racist: "But although Bailey is clearly a food ethics icon, he’s also problematic. He was a racist, for one thing, and his writings include occasional sentences and paragraphs that are shocking to modern readers." Despite not giving any specific support to his charge, let us take Professor Thompson's charge seriously. Unfortunately, comments to Professor Thompson's blog post are currently closed so I'll respond here.

To clear the playing field, let's list two important ideas that everyone should know about race:
  • Race has no genetic basis.
  • Race isn't biological, but racism is still real.
    With this in mind, here is what Bailey had to say in his background book, What is Democracy? published in 1918 after the wake of the Great War; "Racial independence and separateness is a doubtful apprenticeship to democracy. It tends to solidify the racial clan, making it a class enterprise in the world. Racial jealousies and hatreds have always stood in the way of democracy, and the modern process has been to break down these barriers...One reason why democracy has thriven in North America is because the population is not a race but a brotherhood."
    It is evident, that Bailey could not discard the idea and workings of racism. This doesn't make him a racist, however. In great contrast to a racist ideology, Bailey found the ideas of race antithetical to democracy. If he can be accused of anything is perhaps overt optimism that North America consisted as a brotherhood, while we still struggle with the inequalities of racism today.
    In his follow-up writing, Universal Service, the Hope for Humanity, Bailey viewed World War I as a "great collapse" in society where people of every race found it necessary to be prepared, "to destroy the citizen of any other race or people in order to protect itself." He further asserted, "If we make no fundamental change of direction in these moving forces at the conclusion of the present Lapse, then we must conclude that society does not have within its body the power of self-correction." Again, Bailey articulates the destructive properties in our belief in race.
    In all fairness, perhaps Professor Thompson quick accusation was directed at other aspects of Bailey, namely his science. But as for the man himself and his personal beliefs, we find a very articulate person, hoping for a better future, with a larger belief in humanity. That alone should give one enough restraint in connecting Liberty Hyde Bailey with the ugly stain of racism.