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Never worry about memorising plant names.


In 1773 they were called ‘hard names’ (being latin) and
‘soft names’ (now called ‘common names.’)

Frances Boscawen wrote in a letter ‘I bought from
Mr Burrows in my chaize a plant with a prodigious long Greek name, which I forgot before I got home, but the plant I hope will take root and flourish. It is to be full of flowers all summer, and of berries all winter: its name begins with an M and is something like Mucephalus, but not just that; I think perhaps you are acquainted with it; it is new to me at least by its hard name, and if it has a soft one the nursery man would not trust me with it, lest I should
despise the plant and its owner; both would be more considerable in my eyes, he thought, for hearing and pronouncing so long a name.’
(source ‘Gardening women’ Catherine Horwood
ISBN 978-1-4084-8816-4)

So, what was the plant ?

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I find plant names fascinsting, latin and common
And how common names change up and rown the country

5 Aug, 2016


I'm in awe of people who know all the latin names. I have realised that will never be me.

5 Aug, 2016


I wonder what the name was that he forgot? Flowers all summer and berries all winter sounds good.
I quite like some of the Latin names even when I can't remember them. I have a little book that tells what they mean, but its old and hasn't got all the modern ones in. Lots of them are named after their discoverer or in honour of a great gardener. Anything with echino- means its prickly, anything with dendron means its tree like etc.

But I love the English names too - who could be cross with forget-me-not or foxglove?~Save the Latin ones for Sundays...

5 Aug, 2016


Thank you Stera. I have always liked the latin names,
remembered from childhood interest in plants. Especially the ones that ended in ii. (Pronounced ' e i ' )
Could I have the name of your little book please? Would be worth searching for.
The plant Frances Boscawen couldnt remember came from Greece, a hot dry climate, which could have been the reason why it flowered all summer.
One can only wonder if it survived, although the Victorians spent fortunes on glass houses.

6 Aug, 2016


And walled gardens. ....twin walled with fires in the corners, and the poor gardeners boy keeping them going all night!.....

I do love visiting walled gardens though
Not sure if they happen elswhere but up in SWScotland we've visited a couple of 'honesty gardens' where theres an honesty box for entry. ....and if you want to buy plants
Both places we visited recently we didn't see anothrr soul, one even had a shed with a kettle, tea/coffee etc and a price list. wonderful its a different world ?

6 Aug, 2016


Diane the book is by A T Johnson and H A Smith. Plant names simplified. First published 1931, second revised edition 1951.

I've often wished there was a more recent edition, there have been so many new plants since 1951.

I seem to remember Bamboo saying she has a copy too.
I've had a quick look on the internet and there seem to be copies available - even a paperback with an ISBN but it doesn't say whether its a revised edition or a reprint. If you do find a more recent edition do please let me know?

6 Aug, 2016

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