first gardens I worked in the USA belonged to a genre of person for whom
plants meant very little. What they wanted in the garden was an
impression and sadly amongst these powerful characters I can recall not
one single individualist.
Color was a critical aspect
of this uniformity of impression. Certain colors were what the
English would call 'common', or in the USA, some referred to as
'tacky'. Blues and whites were royal. Pinks, purples and
yellows belonged I suppose to some other place. As well,
particular species incurred ire, while other species, no matter the color,
were deemed worthy.
The glorious Gladioli were far
too Hallmark for the genteel. I once mentioned that rugged character
the Hollyhock which quickly placed me amongst the unwashed. The word
Daffodil was verboten, and so I would always call them
Jonquils. The Cleome, one my most favorite plants, was
ridiculed. And the statement "plants need light to thrive"
was a remark quite alien to a community that has placed human beings upon
In those distant days I was able to
retain some semblance of dignity, by resorting to Latin. That
deciduous conifer from China "Metasequoia Glyptostroboides" - the
Dawn Redwood - being one of the few long words I can ever remember, was one
that figured large in my vocabulary. It made me sound remarkably knowledgeable,
and unfortunately it encouraged the rebel.
I once described, in intimate detail the
habits of "Fatfacia-Stupenda", to an especially generic and very
wide female, who did not like the sight of bare earth. And I have
planted "Enkoopia Chickabiddia", for the wife of a former Senator,
whose step ladder is still in my possession. A claim which I think
would have kept me ahead in this often secretive competition had my
"Enkoopia Chickabiddia" not been blue.
In those days of course I drank a great