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July 7th 2009

    The 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 the moon.

     

    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 deal.

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 (Edward Lear)