Iowa’s amazing garden stories

How Iowa gardeners changed the course of history

1930s woman watering garden with water can. -Contributed photo

Did you know that the Delicious apple, 4-H, hybrid corn, Earl May Garden Centers, Better Homes & Gardens and other innovations with state and national impact have their roots in Iowa? Darcy Maulsby, an author, historian and Iowa’s Storyteller from Lake City, will share these fascinating stories during a program at the Le Grand Pioneer Heritage Library on April 19, at 6:30 p.m.

Discovered in 1875 on Jesse Hiatt’s farm in Peru, Iowa, the Red Delicious apple was a chance seedling. Thinking it was a nuisance, Hiatt tried to chop the tree down until the third time when he gave up and allowed it to grow and produce apples. Stark Brothers soon purchased the rights from Hiatt and named the apple the “Stark Delicious.” In 1914, after the naming of the Golden Delicious, it received its final name: Red Delicious.

In 1919, Earl E. May founded Earl May Seed & Nursery in Shenandoah, a small town in southwest Iowa and now Earl May operates 28 family-owned stores in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas. Other Iowa nurseries with a national reputation were located in Charles City, Shenandoah, Johnston and Ames. Iowa was also the home to many seed companies whose illustrated catalogs provided home gardeners across the country with the seeds for their flowers and vegetables.

“We are very pleased to have Darcy present another of her fascinating programs”, Shelley Barron, Director Pioneer Heritage Library, said. “She spoke about the culinary history of Iowa in February and this gardening history program should be just as entertaining as it is informational.”

The program is free and open to the public. The library is located at 204 N. Vine Street in the log building in the city park. There will also be a display of garden books that are available for checkout. The next program at the library will be the rescheduled “POWs in Iowa” on April 26, at 6:30 p.m. For more information, please call 641-479-2122.