Friday, December 01, 2006

Latin Shmatin

If I know the Latin name of a plant will it make it grow better?
Of course not. Will it expand my knowledge of a certain plant? Probably.

Now, I don't mind people that use the Latin name for a plant instead of its common name, ( it more than not will give me something to research) but it really does bother me if people are pretentious about it.

My grandmother could rattle off the Latin genus and species of every plant in her garden, but she also knew when not to.

There appear to be three distinct groups of thinking on this:

1. If you have no idea what the common name is for the plant, but rattle off only with the Latin, you're a friggin' plant genius, scientist, just want to show how smart you are or really enjoy Latin.

2. If you're only concerned with the common name of a plant and could really give a fig what the Latin counterpart is, you're obviously not a serious gardener.

3. If you occasionally pick up a Latin name along with the common, good for you!

I'm an obvious 3rd in this race. Interestingly, it's the one gardening subject I'm not obsessive about. Go figure.

Being a garden snob is just not cool. When someone points to a plant and says, "That is a Lobularia maritima," well, ok, good. But I'm still calling it an alyssum, so quit looking down your nose at me.

If I walk into a garden center and ask for a certain plant using its common name and they look at me as if my eye just fell out of the socket and say, "Oh, did you mean (insert Latin shmatin here)," I'm gone.

Conversely, I want to know that garden center knows what they're talking about, so do they actually know the Latin name for that plant? Does it matter? If it's pretty, will grow in my zone and cheap, I'm leaving with it anyway. But it better have the Latin name on the tag so I can do some research.

It all boils down to the area you're most comfortable in. I want to enjoy gardening, not feel as if it's a test of how smart I am - had enough of that in school, thank you very much.

I've seen so many people be intimidated by garden snobs that it's no wonder they give up. Who wants to be made to feel stupid?

Get comfortable with how much you know, and how much you don't. No one knows everything and everyone started out knowing nothing. There's always room to learn.

If I can succeed at getting a plant to grow to its potential, I simply call it something that fits every plant in my garden: Bellus.

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