Sanguisorba tenuifolia

Here’s a delightful plant I had totally forgotten about: Sanguisorba tenuifolia. I think I grew from seed a year or two ago and slam dunked it into the front garden. But I couldn’t miss it when it started flowering.

Sanguisorba tenuifolia

The plant itself is unassuming. a smallish clump of what some catalogs ‘fern-like’ foliage. But then it throws up flower stalks (these are close to 6 feet tall) with pendulous white inflorescences dangling at the ends. The flower stalks are thin and blend in so that the floating flowers look like they’re suspended in thin air.

Sanguisorba tenuifolia

Surfing around looking for info, I see pictures of other S. tenufolias that look much different, with shorter flower stalks and upright flowers. Can anyone educate me on this?

‘Outhouse plant’

outhouse plant

Kathy over at ColdClimateGardening correctly ID’d one of the mystery flowers in my August bloom day scans as Rudbeckia ‘Golden Glow’. I got this heirloom passalong plant from a neighbor a few years ago, and never knew what it was.

It goes by many names, including Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Hortensis’, ‘Golden Drop’, outhouse plant, or (my personal favorite) shithouse daisy. I read somewhere that hollyhocks were favored as outhouse plants so that Victorian ladies could discretely ask where they could find the hollyhocks when they had to go.

outhouse plant

Select Seeds has a good description:

Gardeners were amazed by this sensational double rudbeckia when it burst on the scene circa 1897. “I was delighted with the fullness and gorgeousness of the blossoms and their clear bright yellow color. It grew vigorously, and threw up strong, branching flower stems six feet high, laden with sheaves of golden blossoms as large as fair chrysanthemums…” says a horticulturalist from that era. Once a common ‘outhouse flower’ for screening the privy, it is fabulous grown with purple asters for late summer and fall bloom.

outhouse plant

Ag art of Mann Library

mann friese
Click images for larger view.

Yesterday, for the first time in seven years, the front door through the towering art-deco facade of Cornell University’s Mann Library swung open. A procession of library workers and well-wishers lead by a bagpiper marched in for a ceremonial opening of the newly renovated building.

Since the original building was completed in 1952, Mann has been recognized as one of the great agricultural libraries of the world, unifying the collections scattered around the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and what was known then as the College of Home Economics (now Human Ecology).

Workers and staff are still putting finishing touches on the interior. For me, the job will not be done until the art work in the original building as I remember it as a grad student (circa 1980) is restored.

My favorite is the Elfriede Abbe frieze (detail above), as described on the Mann Library website:

One of the most remarkable of these pieces in the original building is a 31-foot frieze, designed and carved by renowned artist and sculptor Elfriede Abbe, which was installed on one end of the 2nd floor’s Current Periodicals Reading Room as an anonymous gift to the library in 1956. Human figures on the frieze denote individual disciplines in the study of agriculture and human ecology, and the sculpture as a whole celebrates the scientific and educational contributions these fields make to the quality of life.

Then there are these huge wood inlay pieces:

inlay art inlay art

Also notable are the two gracefully stylized human figures depicted in wooden inlay panels on opposite ends of the 2nd floor card catalog hall. Shortly after the building’s opening the State Architect of the New York commissioned these two figures to evoke the agrarian foundations of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Two members of the State Architect’s office (Frisbie Sanders, designer, and Frances Hector, detailer) used six tropical hardwoods to create the figures.

I have fond memories of wandering the old metal stacks at Mann. I’d start out looking for one thing but then something else more interesting would beckon from a nearby shelf. (I was particularly fond of the older books that opened a window on farming in the old days.) The experience was not unlike surfing the Internet.

While the building houses books, there is a 21st century library spirit that is as much concerned as giving students the tools they need to interact with the information and with each other as it is with housing knowledge. I’m intrigued by one early plan for the renovation that didn’t fly: Digitize all the books and use the entire space to foster human collaboration.

If five or ten years from now that seems like a wise way to go, I think the building will once again gracefully adapt.

Wine lovers suckered by fake labels

happy camper wine labelMore great research from Cornell University reported in this UPI story.

Long story short: Researchers served $2/bottle wine to diners with two different labels — one from California and the other from North Dakota. “The California drinkers stayed at the table longer, ate more of the food and ranked the food and wine highest, the study found.”

Draw your own conclusions.

I loved the variety of headlines I found while googling this story:

I have no clue how good Happy Camper wine is. I just like the label.