Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Plantaholica Incurablis


I've told you about my new favorite nursery, Pick of the Planet,  here before.  I've been there a couple of times this spring, but because of our miserable unseasonable spring weather, lots of the plants had their graduation to the retail space delayed.   I had my eye on a few things and went back this week when the graduates were ready for sale.

Enter The Problem - plant names.  I was looking for a few specific plants, but only knew the common name of one and none of the others.  You can picture the scene - hands waving, voice louder than usual (why do we instinctively talk louder when we think we won't be understood?), asking about "the little one with the red and green spikey leaves" or worse yet, "your web site says you have False Bishop Weed".  The clerk looked at me as if my mouth was moving but no words were coming out.

The staff here are serious gardeners, not just clerks who sell stuff.  They only speak Latin names - in the most friendly, helpful way, but "little spikey red and green leaves" is not in their vocabulary. 

I do know a few proper Latin plant names, mainly because Montana Daughter has a degree in horticulture and some it has rubbed off on me.  I understand that a plant can have several different common names, so one correct name can make identification easier.  I know that the first name, the genus, is like a last name, the name for the group of related species.

The second part of a plant's Latin name indicates species — the individuals within a genus that share common traits.  This word is  refers to the plant's appearance, native habitat or discoverer. For example, the dentatum of Viburnum dentatum means "toothed," which tells you something about the shape of the shrub's leaves - jagged like teeth.   But some of these names are so complicated, and my high school Latin is rusty! 

Turns out "red and green spikey thing" is Alternantha and the False Bishop Weed is Ammi Visnaga - just what I was going to say.

That the Alternantha on the right - a sweet little filler.  And the one in the back with the rosette leaves -  Piectranthus amboinicus - another unusual filler.

I also found this  fantastic pot there, too and can you believe it's plastic?  Plastic pots are light, so it's easy to lug them fully planted out onto the deck.  Problem is that so many of them are just plain ugly, but not this beauty.  Since it was only $9.00, I knew it couldn't be stone, but I had to touch it to be sure.  Love the faux stone look.

Back to the False Bishop Weed  ( I mean Ammi Visnaga).  I love Queen Anne's Lace and this is a cultivated version.  These are the plants I bought
and what I hope they look like all grown up:
I am an equal opportunity plant purchaser, but I love that there is a place to buy the unusual ones and get a language lesson in the process. 
Oh, I did make one purchase at Target on the way home - a bale of toilet paper.  Or, to those of you in the know, Latrina papyrum.

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