Shakespeare wrote, “… a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet,” meaning that a name does not change the essential quality of the flower (or anything else for that matter).
But I was introduced to flowers through their names – no color photos, sweet smelling blossoms or informative text – just typed names on a page and I fell instantly in love with descriptive floral monikers.
Up until the age of nine, I lived in a small apartment with my parents in the borough of Queens in New York City. It was in a neighborhood of primarily squat, three story buildings, each with a paved playground behind it and some areas of grass that never grew because us kids always played on it….
Every winter, my school, PS 26, Rufus King Elementary school, in an attempt to raise money, would hand out long, narrow order forms for flower and vegetable seeds to us and tell us to take them home. We were to choose, with our parents, the seeds we wanted to order for spring planting.
Now where did they think apartment dwellers were going to plant these seeds? I don’t know if that entered their minds…there indeed were kids in school who lived in small houses (think Archie Bunker’s place) and they, no doubt, would be able to plant them but most of us had no hope of growing a garden.
I, not to be thwarted, decided that I would simply plant everything on the windowsill of our small, galley kitchen. This is testament to the fact that, to an enthusiastic seven year old, anything is possible.
My mother tried to dissuade me but I was insistent. I perused the long list of names and seed prices and made my choices. My only guide was their names – and since I did not know what a chrysanthemum, marigold or petunia was – I chose the names that were associated with times of day, the planets or other alluring descriptions of something odd. Here was my list as I remember it:
Moon flower ( this photo taken from a great birding blog 10000birds)
Love in a Mist
And best of all,
The Money Plant
They didn’t do too well in the little pots all lined up on a dark windowsill and I think the contact paper that covered the sill got wet and curled up ( uh oh) but it was a grand introduction to the wild and wooly ride of horticulture and I never got off….