Thursday, June 22, 2017
Having always been attracted to words, I’ve wondered how many different word-labels a carpenter uses in building a house, how many words are in the lexicon of a lab tech and how many words define the supplies in a typical surgery room.
As a child I wondered at the brilliance of Adam who had the unequaled ability to name everything.
I myself have increasing difficulties in learning names. At one time I was rather good in learning and remembering students in each of my classes. But of late my memory skills seem to be clouding over.
This is particularly evident in plants. Now that I volunteer in a top-notch greenhouse, I want to know the names of all the plants but alas, how is one to recite this roll call: Stanhopia, Paphiopedilum, Anthurium, Talanzia, Gongora, Epidendrum and Lepanthes?
Here at home in our garden, I can do well with vegetables and my favorite flowers. Shown below are growing cannas, surrounded by chard. To the right is a tomato.
Further along the driveway is a row of beets, a row of beans, tomatoes to the right, and in the background a tall cucumber and on this side of the cucumber a mix of herbs.
The flower beds offer a larger challenge. OK, at the corner is salvia. The row of blooming plants — I put in the bulbs and tried to plant the names as deep into my brain as the bulbs were deep into the soil — has a name that Adam knows, but I can’t recall it. The item in the foreground are the remnants of grape hyacinth.
Is it OK if I call this plumbago?
That’s the name in a brain cell but I’m not sure. Just know this: here in the house is a huge encyclopedia of plants, apparently written by Adam, that I consult regularly, with each consultation ending in awe and a measure of confusion.
Can you not understand my empathy, then, when my neighbor showed to us a plant that she could not identify, nor could my wife nor anyone else she has contacted? I shall enjoy it as a nameless neighbor with a spotted trunk.