Once upon a time plants were named for real people. In jolly old England, both first and last names were always used. So we have plants named for some of their illustrious plant hunters, breeders, and designers such as Vinca ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, ‘Dianthus ’C.T. Musgrove’, and Syringa ‘Miss Ellen Willmott’. Others are named for famous personages as Picea ‘OttoVan Bismarck’ or Paeonia ‘Joseph Rock’. In recent times Calycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ was named for Richard Hartlage, Hosta “Paul’s Glory’ was named for hosta great Paul Aden, and Hemerocallis ‘Stephanie Returns’ named for yours truly. America, being a tad more casual, allowed first names to suffice. Later on, the first name plus an adjective would do the trick as with Dianthus ‘Spotty Dottie’ or Hemerocallis ‘Sassy Shannon’. Other unique names were for places that the plant could be found as Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’ or Sequoia ‘Filoli’ and ‘Los Altos’. Plant names often help you visualize something tangible about the plant, such as tell you its color as in Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ or Boltonia ‘Pink Beauty’. Some names like little, dainty, and dwarf reassure us that this is a small plant. And certain perennials are even named for lively dances as ‘Rhumba’ ,‘Samba’, or ‘Bolero’ which means the colors are hot and vibrant.
Submitted by Stephanie Cohen, author of "The Perennial Gardener's Design Primer" (co-authored with Nancy Ondra) and "The Nonstop Garden" (co-authored with Jennifer Benner, a CT resident). These wonderful books are available at Natureworks and at our classes.
Visit her website: www.theperennialdiva.com