What’s in a name?

For years, every time I bought a plant I kept the label that identified it. An accumulation of plastic in my shed grew until last year I had a clear out. Being an idealist, I thought ‘why am I keeping these labels? I don’t need to know the names when I can just admire the plants.’ I binned the lot.

Now I know why I should have kept them. Over time you learn plant names by osmosis. This particularly applies to plants you like a lot and purchase more often. I love campanulas and chocolate cosmos, so remember their names. Others elude me so I look the name up so often that I begin to remember them. But there are many I forget. Now I know why I needed to keep those labels, as trying to use the internet to identify them is really tough… do you know just how many yellow, daisy-like flowers there are! I need to know names now to identify species on this blog. It’s taken me over a week to find the one below!

Creeping Jenny Lysimachia congestiflora

Apart from scientific names uniting gardeners and botanists worldwide, they also often subsume a description. Loosestrifes; the genera Lysimachia, covers 193 different species. Often the generic names tell us little, but specific names often do – although many are eponyms honouring the plants discoverer etc. In this case it does help as congestiflora roughly translates as ‘lots of flowers crammed together’. As you can see, instead of single flowers, this one has flowers bunched together in a sort of rosette.

The plant below is a type of Jasmine, no label so I cannot be more specific and can find it nowhere on the net. 

The flowers are very small, but beautiful and the scent is almost undetectable unlike many very sweet-smelling jasmines. I wish I’d kept that label!

Perhaps, rather than heeding Shakespeare when he wrote in ‘Romeo & Julie’: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose would smell as sweet.” I should have listened to the American journalist and satirist H L Menken when he described an idealist as someone “…who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.”

Rant it out!
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