Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Name Game

When I was pregnant with my first child I received the advice to take what ever name I was considering and shout it across the house. If I could bellow it repeatedly and still like it, it was a keeper. Such wisdom ended with my children being given solid, traditional names that no matter how much I yelled, I still liked.

'Tipsy Imperial Concubine'

The same advice should be given to plants. Perhaps before a plant is named, the name should be blasted across a garden center or neighborhood fence. I can only imagine how funny it would be to hear the horticulturalists at your local garden center calling out to add a few more 'Homeplace Kissy Face' daylilies to the delivery truck or to overhear your male neighbor bragging about his 'Tipsy Imperial Concubine'.

"She's a beaut, Hal! This is the best 'Concubine' I've ever had. She's double cupped and turns a bit pink but even the wife likes her. If you hurry over you can get a sniff before she closes for the night."
There's no conceivable way I could hear that and not think my neighbor was a little kinky. But even normal plant names seemed to have been developed by deranged five year olds. My dwarf spirea are named 'Little Princess' while my deutzia is a 'Pink a Boo'.


Priced at $50+, Erotica should come with a copy of the Kama Sutra and a bottle of wine.

But some plant names are the entire reason I buy them. I once had a penstemon named penstemon whippleanus but it died. What an asshole. A clump of 'Red Velvet Elvis' iris was purchased just because the name was so irresistible. As for the 'Erotica' hosta, I don't own one but it's on my wish list. I'd much rather yell, "Hey, come check out my 'Erotica'!" than whisper, "My 'Pink Poodles' are blooming."


'Pink Poodles' coneflower


71 comments:

  1. Oh Crap!!! I should not have just read your post as I am laughing out loud while the whole house is sleeping.........You Kill me!! You NEED to write a garden book all in your style please.....you are a treat to us all!! I am so down with that hosta name! Happy weekend buddy! Nicole xoxo

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    1. I was laughing while I wrote it. If I don't crack myself up, then it isn't funny enough to post. I just imagined two older guys talking over the fence about their concubines while their eavesdropping neighbor freaks out. ;o)

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  2. I think a job naming cultivars would be a lot of fun. I, too, have found that plant names can provide that little extra push to buy a plant (as if I ever needed an extra push). That was the case with Coprosma 'Plum Hussey.' Although the name is properly spelled 'Hussey' rather than 'Hussy,' it doesn't matter because the image of a "hussy" implants itself (no pun intended) and soon the plant is in your cart. (I actually have no less than 6 'plum Hussey' in my garden so you know I'm going for a brazen look.) And last year, for little reason beside the name, I bought 3 Dianthus 'Heart Attack' to liven up a border - unfortunately, they all passed away rather suddenly!

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    1. I would absolutely buy a plant named 'Plum Hussy'! I love it! 'Heart Attack' cracks me up, too Too bad it lived up to its name. :(

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  3. You are such a screwball!! That's the funniest thing I've read in ages! Being the complete ijit that I am I get sucked into buying lots of yarn if it has a plant name I like. I have hollyhock, pansy (s) , zinnias, squAsh, violets...,you get the picture. One of my friends had this plant , I forget...,,superbum. She pronounced it super bum , I wasn't sure if she was just mispronouncing it or being funny. She's a kindergarten teacher and kniws what what about everything! Far be it for me today something!!Ok so we are at a classy garden show and she was being a name dropper to this horticulturist gardener author. And trying to impress goes on at length about ...... Super bum . The guy looks at her rather disdainfully and loudly corrects her ..it's superbum lady not super bum! Of course deAd silence ensues. She was mortified I was laughing so hard I almost had an asthma arrack. She always killed me when I fessed up I knew the correct pronunciation. I never have been quite forgiven completely!! Good to never get too serious about anything! I agree with Nicole, you need to write a book! You're the best!!

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    1. I am a complete screwball! There's no way I could work around adults. I'm too comfortable with kids and other adults who find them funny. I have been known to completely butcher Latin words before so my sympathies to your friend but I would imagine a plant named Super Bum would either have a very cute bottom or a huge one. ;o)

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  4. Yup - I agree with the book idea. Please do! What a giggle of a post! Brilliant. Actually, I think you should be the global plant name selector.... imagine the fun you could have!

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    1. It would be fun! They would all have goofy names. I am dying to name a group of well endowed, low growing berry vines The Well Hung collection. ;o)

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  5. Erotica is a rather fine thing I have to say. The hosta I mean.

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    1. I'm not sure what's erotic about it but it is quite pretty. I have a neighbor two doors down who loves to garden. I can hardly wait to yell across the fence that she needs more Erotica.

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  6. I think I need to get Pink Poodles now.

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    1. They're cute but the single coneflowers attract more pollinators and have less gag-inducing names.

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  7. I agree with Sarah, you would be very good at naming plants - we would have a ball. I have a rose called "Tootie's Rockin' K". I feel I cannot complain much about the name as it is my best performer. Still, shouting the names a few times would probably have produced a simpler name.

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    1. That's a great name! I might have to shorten it to Tootie, which does sound a bit silly, actually. But it beats 'Pink a Boo' any day.

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  8. My daughter has a nice practical name and it suits her well. I once told her the other more fanciful names I had on my list. She actually blanched and with a voice full of emotion thanked the gods for escaping a fate worse than death.

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    1. I named my daughter after one of my favorite characters in literature and it suits her much better than Moonunit or Roxie Crimefighter.

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  9. Here's a quote from my book, BeBop Garden: "How nuts is it to want to plant an 'euonymous bush' in my 'garden of earthly delight' for no other reason than its allusiveness? Forget that I don't especially care for Euonymous (or Heironymous, for that matter). Forget that the scene alluded to is one of wretched excess. I just get a kick out of making such a frivolous and obtuse reference." When you retire from plant naming, you can move on to paint colors.

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    1. I had no idea you were an author! How fabulous! Euonymous might as well be named anonymous here because it's everywhere but no one knows its name. It's commonly known as 'the big green thing', which is a completely accurate name.

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  10. Plant names seem to be all over the map - isn't there a book of rules out there somewhere??? I guess anything's better than trying to remember their Latin names, right?

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    1. At least the Latin names are consistent and unstupid but they can be a challenge to pronounce correctly. I've butchered a few (hundred!) in my day. :o)

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  11. Ha, ha, too funny! Hostas are the worst. The group of people that name hostas have quite the interesting sense of humor. Or a one-track mind. Reading down a list of varieties is like reading a list of titles for romance novels or porn films!

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    1. I saw a hosta named Outhouse Delight. I think plant namers must throw a bunch of words in a hat and then randomly choose phrases. While the ones with suggestive names might seem inappropriate, I prefer them to those that are childish or silly. What sane adult names plants 'Little Princess' or 'Pink a Boo'?

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  12. Are you serious that Erotica costs 50 bucks? That's nuts. I like the pink poodle cornflower though--I've never seen one! Here are some doozies from the Dahlia world: Deputy Bob (if that isn't the dumbest name for a Dahlia, I don't know what is...), "Blah Blah Blah", (I'm not kidding), Bumble Rumble, Hammin Jelly, KoKo Puff, Kidd's Climax, Gonzo Grape, Aw Shucks, Ms. Bee Haven, Platinum Blonde (I have that one, she's gorgeous), Outta Da Blue, LoverBoy, Voodoo: (I have that one too: huge red dinnerplate), SuperLips, Tahoma Moonshot (that's for Zappa's other kid!) and another huge one: "I'm a Hottie." These folks must get very loose and just have a blast naming their dahlias...

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    1. There must be alcohol-fueled parties involved in creating these names and I want an invitation! While I'm not much of a drinker, I would enjoy the festivities immensely. Tahoma Moonshot is a much better name than Blah Blah Blah! Whoever came up with that one needs to be taken off the invite list.

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  13. Very funny post, you made me laugh with this post, the bottle of wine that should come along with hosta and that penstemon...
    Anyway even if I don't have any children I use your yell-that-name method when I decide dog's names. ( I am Alberto from Altroverde, btw, finding some serious problems in reading and commenting on blogspot interface...)

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    1. Welcome back, Alberto! My dogs all have good dog names that end up being turned into nicknames. One of my dogs is part basset and has been nicknamed Noodle Butt. When I yell for her to come inside, my neighbors must think I'm nuts. :o)

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  14. Average names with traditional spelling. They've already been yelled across the house so many times I can't imagine how annoying something "unique" would be!
    I often cringe at some of the stuck on stupid names. Maintaining any tint of manliness while growing "pink petticoat" and "kissable purple" is a hopeless effort.

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    1. Same here. As a teacher I've seen the humiliation a unique name can have. As for manly names, I think there should be more robust plants with names like Magnus, Odin, Thor, Spike, etc. You could stand in the garden and beat your chest, yelling "Where is Thor? Bring him to me!"

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  15. I love some of these names...I had Pink Poodles but it didn't return.....of course my neighbors would love to hear I had a Concubine with Erotica.

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    1. If my neighbors knew we had a Concubine, they might come over more often. ;o) Pink Poodles is actually quite pretty but the name is so stupid, I refuse to buy it.

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  16. I'm laughing away here....you are hysterical! That advice re hollering kids names should be passed around....the names some poor kids get now! Eeek to some of those names....Tipsy Imperial Concubine.....bloomin''eck!!! As for Pink poodles......xxx

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    1. I was laughing while writing this. :o) Daylilies often have ridiculous names. Many of them sound like they were created by a bunch of drunk, undersexed horticulturalists.

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  17. Tammy girl while you were cracking yourself up (there should be a movie titled THAT! .. aka as in "while you were sleeping" .. but ? we all have different ideas of how we crack up ... OMG ... this hole is getting deeper and deeper ... I better quit this line of thought ... for now)
    Anywhoooo ... I always wonder WTF ("F" as in Fudge! some of which I could USE right now) were they thinking when they name such and such a plant (Pinky Winky hydrangea cracks my husband up)
    They should shout it out and see the reaction of innocent gardeners ... but in the end ... they seem to be bursting to have a laugh some how ...
    Are gardeners repressed comics at heart? .. we cover that hidden ego by pretending to be all about mother earth and plants? ergo the "names"
    I think I gave myself a headache thinking about all of this ... but thanks for the laugh girl .. I am knee deep in ..... SNOW and cabin crazy !
    Joy ;- )

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    1. I crack myself up a lot. My family is used to finding me laughing at my own private jokes. I must look insane half the time. Maybe if I knew my cultivar was going to be super popular, I'd give it the most absurd name I could think of just as a joke. I do like the idea of a very uptight, serious gardener asking the garden center staff if they carry "Afternoon Quickie". Perhaps when one of the staff show up with a cart full of plants, they could make a very loud announcement of "Ladies/Gentlemen, who needs a 'Quickie'? Form a line right line. It won't take long." Perhaps this is why I'm not allowed to name plants. ;o)

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  18. You are of course completely bonkers and therefore all the plants in your garden should have suitably bonkers names. It looks like you are well on your way to achieving this!

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    1. If I saw a plant named 'Completely Bonkers' I'd buy it!

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  19. That is so funny! Your 'Concubine' imagined conversation over the fence is hilarious -- I could hardly stop laughing.... Sometimes I do wonder about those names, but I guess we can hardly blame hybridizers for trying to draw attention to their particular variety among the thousands of others that are released each year. Thanks for the laugh! -Beth

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    1. The names are definitely part of the marketing but they create so many opportunities for bad jokes and innuendo. :o)

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  20. Girl, you are in your element! Great post. Remember 'Brazen Hussy'? I think it was for a Ranunculus or something. That's one of the funniest plant names I've ever heard. I'm sure there is a story behind it. And of course everyone hates 'Pinky Winky' Hydrangea. One of these days we should compile a list of worst names and create and vote for better ones. Great post. I laughed out loud. :)

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    1. Thanks! Pinky Winky is the worst! Voting for new names is a great idea. I would definitely add a few Brazen Hussies to my garden. I'd place them next to my Well Hung berry vines.

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  21. So funny! There have to be some plants where losing the label quickly is a good idea, to avoid the ridiculous plant namers ideas. others are simply inspired - I have Sweet Juliet roses next to Wildeve and hope midnight fairy frolics happen in the garden! Great post.

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    1. Sweet Juliet and Wildeve are wonderful names! A lot of English roses have strong, romantic names that I love. I hated taking out my diseased William Shakespeare rose because it had such a cool name.

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  22. What's in an name anyway???
    The folks who are naming the different hybrid species are totally crazy in my opinion.

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    1. I agree! I'd probably get along quite well with them, except for the group that came up with Pinky Winky and Pink a Boo.

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  23. LOL...too funny-I noticed somebody mentioned my all time favorite- "Pinky Winky":-) I was visiting our local botanical center and we were walking through the children's garden and the education director was showing us through + I exclaimed-"oh, a pinky winky-PERFECT for a children's garden. There should be a children's rhyme-LOL..he said," What did you call that hydrangea".....priceless:-)
    What great advice about naming your kid-so true! I have traditional names to for all my kids:-)

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    1. He must not have known what the cultivar was called! What a shock! :o)

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  24. Hi, Tammy!
    You made me smile when I've read about your 'Erotica'. I always think what the plant name means seeing the label, as a rose 'Boy's brigade' or dill ' Pine woods'

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    1. Calling dill 'Pine Woods' is so strange! That may be the strangest name of all.

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  25. This is hilarious! I also have wondered how they come up with some of these names. Thanks for giving me a good laugh at the end of my day.

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  26. Ha, I don't have a story to top any of yours, Tammie, but I remember the time I was looking for a 'Pinky Winky' hydrangea, and it got to the point of silliness as one salesperson asked another at the garden center if they had 'Pinky Winky':) It makes you wonder what some of these hybridizers are on when they name them. I often buy plants because of their names--I have a whole collection of "literary" daylilies like 'Tennyson' and 'Canterbury Tales,' and my Heucheras mostly have yummy-sounding names like 'Tiramisu,' 'Creme Brulee,' and 'Key Lime Pie.' I think I put on calories just looking at them:)

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    1. I love the idea of literary and food names! It would be very hard to pass up tiramisu or key lime pie. :o)

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  27. I like the name 'Tipsy Imperial Concubine'.

    There are a lot of flat out bad plant names. Don't even get me started on racehorse names.

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    1. I like it, too, but can't help but laugh at its potential for misunderstanding.

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  28. PS I meant to insert a blushing icon after admitting I like the name TIC.

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  29. One of the funniest blog posts I have read in a long time...you had me laughing the entire way through it. And wishing that I had written it.

    Jen

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    1. Wow! Thanks, Jen! Feeling very touched. :o)

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  30. Very funny and true! Latin names are sometimes just as bad! Don't even ask me about my Fallopia japonica!

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    1. I had a friend who always thought I was referring to female anatomy when I talked about my clematis. She was like, "Are you seriously going to talk about that in public?" I'm not sure if she was disappointed or relieved when I told her it was a flowering vine. Fallopia is a giggler. Lots of potential for bad jokes! ;o)

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  31. Very wise advice about naming your children. You should apply the same rule to dog naming.
    On one of the rare occasions that my husband came to a nursery with me I told him that I wanted Clematis recta. He helpfully found a sales assistant and asked him for a Rectum Clematis . The poor chap had the most terrible trouble not to laugh. He went crimson with the effort. I just looked at him very sternly so that he wouldn' t say anything. I knew it would be an endless source of private glee if my husband never found out the proper name, so that for years to come he would show visitors to the garden our very fine rectum clematis.

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    1. Of my four dogs, three came pre-named which is how I ended up with a dog named Baby. I love your clematis story! How is your rectum clematis? I hope it didn't turn out to be a real stinker. Did your husband ever figure out the correct name?

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  32. wonderfully funny entertaining post, Tammy. Next time I go to a nursery I just might pay more attention to the labels than the plants.

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    1. You just might end up laughing out loud. :o)

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  33. I love the way your mind works. You have to be pretty sharp to be this funny. I think I would blush if I had to show a visitor to my garden my "Erotica" hosta. At 50+ dollars however, I probably won't have to worry about being embarrassed any time soon.

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    1. Thanks! I won't be adding it anytime soon, either, unfortunately. But as soon as I find it affordably priced, I want to buy it so I can yell across the fence about it, preferably while lots of people are outside grilling or just hanging out. ;o)

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  34. Hello Tammy, some truly questionable names there. I always have to suppress a giggle when saying Crocus Tommasinianus (I'm doing it now). I want to plant a whole load of these in the front garden so as people walk by around this time of year, I can point to them and exclaim, "just look at my Crocus Tommasinianus!"

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    1. That poor plant is the butt of every joke! Of course, I'd be standing there laughing right along with you.

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  35. I think the daylily breeders have taken the whole naming thing to the extreme. If they get any worse, I'm going to push that they go for numbers instead.

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