Wells Voice Article March 2024

We all get quotations wrong, sometimes deliberately in the hope that we are being witty. There's a hoary old saying, probably from a hoary old gardener, which goes:  'A Chrysanthemum by any other name would be easier to spell.' They should have tried ' Eschscholzia. I once came across a schoolboy's attempt to quote from Romeo and Juliet in an English Literature paper. 'What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweat.' And there you have it; a small misspelling and it all goes wrong.

In the garden, plant names can be a minefield and the changing seasons do nothing to help. It would seem that many familiar names and notions require rebranding. That early flowering daffodil February Gold now appears much earlier. March Hares don't necessarily stick to March, and we have April showers all year round. What about names like Maigold, Summer Sunshine and Autumn Glory? One wonders who exactly decides on all these names. It cannot be as easy as we think. Confusion and debate must enter into it. Years ago, we hosted a talk on Pelargoniums, where the audience was bombarded with a salvo of brightly coloured photos all named under rapid fire: Scarlet King preceded Scarlet Queen, followed by the rest of the regal troupe. We had Sunsets and Dawns of a multitude of tints and hues. We had technicoloured Pearls and Blossoms in abundance. Those in the hall who were nuts about pelargoniums loved it.

How one chose what went into the borders and baskets remained a mystery. But there was a feeling that the naming could have been a wee bit more imaginative. Nowadays commemorative efforts are the fashion and tend to border on the mundane, especially in the rose garden. Wedding Day is now traditional but such card shop titles as Happy Retirement or Good Luck with your Fiftieth Interview don't really belong in the flowerbed and others are more suitable in a racecourse commentary like For Your Eyes Only. Foreign imports bring a different challenge. Anything with Baby or Tootsie in it will hail from North America while from New Zealand comes a lovely popular pink floribunda with a name which needs a glance over the shoulder accompanied by a bit of throat clearing viz. Sexy Rexy. However, in this field the Germans take a lot of beating, or they did. One rose, happily now outdated commercially, really took the biscuit. You needed a good memory and an educated tongue to tackle Herzogin Viktoria- Adelheid von Coburg-Gotha. Kaiser Bill probably grew it or personally knew the Duchess. When his cousin George V changed the royal family name to Windsor, he remarked that perhaps there would be productions of Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Saxe Coburg- Gotha. When it comes to foreign names it's best to leave it to the experts - especially when faced with those bewildering Oriental Tree Peonies. There is a pretty front garden in the neighbourhood which every Spring has an eye-catching display of tulips in bunches and at the moment all helpfully labelled: Front Garden. That's good old-fashioned no nonsense gardening for you! You know where you stand.

Common sense has to take over at some stage and I am very pleased to say that  next month 's meeting of the Wells Gardening Club will help us cope in a sensible way with changes forced by our inconsistent weather. Called The Climate Change Garden the talk by Sally Morgan will give down to earth advice on ways we can cope with whatever is thrown at us in our gardens. With Kim Stoddart, Sally has written an excellent book on the subject, copies of which will be on sale. That will be on Thursday 14th March in the Town Hall at 7.30pm. The meeting is open to everyone and all are very welcome. Admission for members is £1 and for visitors £3. Refreshments will be available. Pip.