Sunday, April 18, 2010

I'm thinking of a word . . .

Laura of White Spray Paint fame asked a simple question about the plants pictured on my post yesterday. Her question exposes the reason I'll never have a true garden blog - I don't always know the names of the plants in our garden! In my mind, I'm the kind of gardener who keeps a fabulous garden journal - complete with notes, drawings, little seed packets, maybe even pressed flowers . . . you know the type of journal. In reality, I have three journals - each one containing some sketchy notes and lots of empty pages. One year I actually did great drawings of several beds, but as fate would have it those beds were redesigned when we hired a landscape designer the following spring and I've yet to capture the new beds. It's only been five years though . . .

But, back to Laura's question about the plants - what are they? I know the general name of all but one - the one pictured above. And it's not that easy to identify a plant if you don't already know the name - it's like finding a word in the dictionary if you don't know how to spell it. What's especially annoying is that I have known - and should know - the name of this because it's not some exotic plant - it's as common as jasmine or a Lady Banks rose!

This train of thought took me back to middle school and our perennial substitute teacher Mrs. Harris (I've changed her name for obvious reasons). Whenever a teacher was absent, Mrs. Harris filled in. She was an elderly lady who came to school dressed for church - suit with matching shoes, perfectly applied makeup (and by perfect I don't mean lightly), handbag with scarf tied to the handle. She never looked at a lesson plan, but rather had her own diversions to keep us busy. One was the Dictionary Race. She'd say a word and the first student to find it in the dictionary won. I loved this game - my secret was to start with with the dictionary opened at the middle. But, mostly we 'worked on' Spelling - remember Spelling? The purpose is to learn new words - definitions and spelling. Well, the way we studied Spelling with Mrs. Harris was for her to sit serenely at her desk and say, "I'm thinking of a word . . ." Then we would guess until someone correctly named the word and she'd check it off her list and say, "I'm thinking of a word . . ." as if she was saying that phrase for the first time. Even 5th graders knew how pointless this was, but it was a fun break from routine studying. So today I'm recreating this by sitting at my desk and saying, "I'm thinking of a plant . . ." And, I'll be waiting for someone out there to shout out the right word! And if you don't hurry I'll have to touch up my foundation or rouge!

As for the other plants, they are: Cherry Laurel (Otto Luyken), Camellia (this was already planted when we moved in and I don't know the variety, but it's a late bloomer and not as susceptible to blight as our December bloomers), Hawthorn (again not sure of the variety - I thought it was a Winter King, but when I looked it up in Dirr's the foliage is different).

So, Laura thanks for the question that led me down memory lane (that's M.E.M.O.R.Y., memory). Let's see who answers . . .


  1. Oh, gee. Well, it looks like a variety of Philadelphus (Mock Orange) to me, but I can't be sure. Mine doesn't bloom for another month. But maybe this is a different variety. there are lots. The leaves don't look quite right to me though. Is it fragrant?

  2. I loved the part about how we see ourselves as gardeners (journals, seeds, etc) , and how we really are.
    Are they azaleas? Do azaleas come in white?
    You go girl. You are my kind of gardener.


  3. I'm pretty sure it's a rose. Can't tell you which one, though. When we lived in Illinois, I was actually "that" kind of gardener. I had the cutest garden journal with sketches, dream photos and notes. Then I moved. Now I'm in Southern Cal and it is the most difficult place to garden because we're in hills that are decomposed granite. And we have bunnies and lots of snails. I was even a Master Gardener before, for crying out loud! I'll be back to see who "gets" it.

  4. Well, maybe it's a Banksia Rose?

  5. Thanks for the comments and e-mails, I think I'm going to take a sprig of it to the local extension office and see if they can help. It is a bit like a rose, but the leaves aren't rose-like . . . ditto for the Mock Orange. Stay tuned!


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