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What's in a name...

  • What's in a name...
  • What's in a name...
  • What's in a name...

A recent post about got me thinking about how plant names influence what we buy: a GPS member put up a photo of a knee-high plant with very pretty blue flowers, which was identified as being Salvia uliginosa, or Bog Sage.

What a terrible name for a plant!

As if “Bog Sage” weren't bad enough, the species name does sound rather like Ugly-nose-er, don't you think? Would you buy a plant called Ugly Nose? Certainly I'd never seen Bog Sage in any of “my” gardens, but the flowers are beautiful, and a lovely shade of blue: so I wondered if the ungainly name made it harder for the garden centres to sell it.

I often wonder if more gardens would contain the lovely flowering shrub Weigela, if it were easier to ask for - is it Vee-g'ler? Why-gee-lee-err? No-one knows...

Which led on to another thought - anyone else remember the Flower Fairies? I bet that if there is a Flower Fairy for Bog Sage, she's really fed up with the name, and probably gets together with the Scabious Fairy to drink cups of tea and grumble about how lucky the Nigella Fairy is.

Bog Sage Fairy: “Oh, it's all right for her (wrinkles up nose), little miss Love-in-a-Mist. She wouldn't be so cheerful if she were called Bog.”

Scabious Fairy: “Huh, too right. But what about me: I sound like a particularly nasty skin condition.”

Bog Sage Fairy: “And it's not as if I could use my other name - I mean, Ugly-nose-er, pfff!”

Scabious Fairy: “I don't even HAVE another name! No-one likes me enough (sniffles) to give me a common name...”

Bog Sage Fairy: “Bloody Shakespeare - a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, he says. Well, that may be so, but people are not exactly rushing to buy (spits the name out) Bog Sage, are they?”

The sun sinks, as they consider the unfairness of their naming, and wish that Linnaeus had had the soul of a poet, or at least had had a book of nice-sounding names from which to pick....

Comments (2)

  1. Grower

    Winifred Field

    I do agree, the Latin is bad enough for us lesser mortals, then they give the most charming flowers unpleasant common names. I love "ugly*, but "Scaby" won't last any length of time in my garden for some reason. Shakespeare didn't do me any favours either when I was Peas Blossom in the schools "Midsummers Night Dream, Sweet Pea would have been preferable. Happy New Gardening Year to you Rachel.

  2. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Happy Gardening Year to you, too, Winifred! I love the idea of you as Peas Blossom, I guess it was better than being Peas Pudding!


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