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Yo No Hablo Botanical Latin

By Doris Guymon

c 2012 WynEden all rights reserved

Visitors to our beautiful garden in Chadds Ford, PA frequently ask, “How much do you do in the garden?”  I am very quick to admit. NOTHING!  Although I am a very enthusiastic cheer leader, I leave it all to Wayne.

Very early on in our relationship it was very clear that Wayne and I could not work on a project together.  We are two bossy people who don’t really like someone else telling us what to do.  As far as gardening goes, don’t get me wrong, it is an activity I could very easily enjoy.  In fact in a previous life, I created a lovely rock garden in Pelham, NY.  It was easily 75 by 25 feet and I was quite into it.  

After Wayne and I got together in 1986, we soon purchased a weekend place in western New Jersey, a small cottage on a lake.  We took possession of it in winter.  The previous owner told the neighbors not to expect to see us until the spring.  Since the cottage was not winterized,  I too believed that they would not see us until spring.

How wrong I was!  As soon as we took possession of the property, we began to spend every weekend there.  Let me tell you, it was freezing cold.  I spent almost all of my time in front of a kerosene heater wearing my fur lined boots and a parka.  As long as there was sunlight, Wayne was outside.  (But these first winter experiences will require another musing.)

In those days Wayne had a small collection of gardening books.  (His collection numbers a few hundred today.)  From the day we signed the contract, Wayne was planning his garden. During the evening in our New York City apartment, he was happily lost in the world of plants and garden landscaping.  

It was a long cold winter with each weekend spent at the cottage, but eventually spring did come.  On one very pleasant Saturday, I began to break ground for a little garden of my own.  In a short while, Wayne was standing over me.  “What are you doing?”  Did I really need to answer... Building the stealth bomber...  “Do you have a plan?”   Of course NOT.  I’m a tinkerer.  I work things out as I go along.  For Wayne this was nothing less than sacrilege.  What ensued was a full blown argument.  I was so mad.  I got in the car and took a drive to cool off.  About an hour later, I pulled off the road and had a rather insightful moment.  As I saw it, I had two alternatives:  Either I let him garden or I leave the jerk!   Well, I guess we know which one I picked.  

The title of this musing is Yo No Hablo Botanical Latin.  So let me explain that.  

Over the years, Wayne has become a very learned horticulturist.  (I call him, and all like minded individuals, Hort-Heads.)  The genus and species rolls off his tongue while the common name eludes him.  It’s a Bellis perennis; not a daisy.  During an early VHS video he made on the Cottage’s garden, he focused the lens on a plant while he narrated, “Here’s the Alcea rosea.  The… the… (long pause) … Alcea rosea...    ...  the hollyhock.”

In 1993, Wayne and I purchased a sprawling house at the top of Bell Canyon, California. It overlooked the San Fernando Valley on one side with the Santa Monica Mountains behind.   We had about two acres which is very large by Los Angeles standards.  Wayne, who never does things by halves, created a fabulous xeriscape garden.  He planted cacti, aloes and all manner of dessert plants.  A nursery in Pasadena, where he could dig up huge specimens at reasonable prices, was a lucky find.

Xeriscape not withstanding, Wayne, the ultimate plant collector, created beds near to the house that would require some water, especially for newly planted specimens.  So when he went on business trips, the watering duties would fall to me.  And, of course, the major conversation of his calls home centered around how well his garden was doing.  Or, more to the point, whether or not I was taking proper care of his plants.  

“Did you water the porcheria?”  He asked me one evening.

“Is that the plant that looks like an agapanthus?

“No!” he said in that tone meaning No, you idiot.

“Did you water the porch area?”

Thus ends my first musing.   In conclusion I wish to thank Google for providing the genus and species of Bellis perennis and Alcea rosea.  Truly, Yo No Hablo Botanical Latin.

Post Script:  

Wayne has commented that the Bellis perennis is the common daisy in California.  And that in New Jersey it is the… WHAT-EVER.  Now really!  What a Hort-Head!