I Heart Indies

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Naming Plants


 Nancy tries whenever possible to get native Georgia plants, and just yesterday we got some very pretty flowers to plant along the front walk.  I realized this morning, I don’t remember what they’re called.  I’ve got a very poor head when it comes to names, especially plant names.  I can tell a pine tree from a magnolia, from a weeping willow from an oak.  That’s pretty much it. 


I’m the same way with birds.  I can tell an owl, a cardinal, a pigeon, a woodpecker, a duck, a goose, and a chicken.  For a while there, I could tell a mockingbird from a catbird, but I’ve forgotten again which is which. 
Oh, and I can tell a hummingbird. 
And a penguin. 
And an ostrich. 
Actually, I’m better with birds than I thought.  If a penguin or an ostrich wanders in the yard, I’ll be able to spot it right off.  “That’s a penguin,” I’ll say, and someone will challenge me, “Are you sure?” and I’ll come back, “Positive, just look at the plumage.” 


But with plants, I’m hopeless.  There is one plant we got the other night, I won’t forget.  It’s a Tea Olive.  It has rather wide shiny leaves and tiny white flowers – but the fragrance!  Standing next to it, you wouldn’t believe any actual living thing could smell so sweet.  It’s quite literally intoxicating. You might think not being able to identify plants is a small matter, but it really diminishes the world.  You really can’t see something you can’t identify.  If you can't put a name to stuff, it doesn't become things to you, it's just stuffWhen our neighbor Cathy looks out her window she sees black-eyed Susans, and cross-vine, and phlox, and hastas, and gardenias.  I see undifferentiated masses of green with spots of color here and there.  Oh, and the Tea Olive.  From now on, I’ll see a Tea Olive.

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