speaking in scientific terms

William Stearn

I was a science nerd so I got into plant science/biology, including botanical Latin names, in the later years of high school. It was Hemerocallis printed on the daylily plant tags my mum brought home that started it all. I remember it clear as day – I was 17, and that year we also did a few lessons on plants in biology class.

Over the years I have done a lot of research on Latin names associated with different plants and how the names came to be. Botanical terms are in Latin or Greek because the features of plants were originally written in Latin or Greek. A scientific terminology of plant descriptions was first established by Aristotle’s student and successor Theophrastus of Eresos (370-285 B.C.).  He inherited the botanic gardens of Athens that Aristotle had founded and arrived at concepts of plant morphology that are still around today. He used the Greek names of the time to describe and name plants. His descriptions describe bark colour, growth form, shape and vein composition of leaves along with leaf margins, the type of wood and its colour, the shape and colour of fruit, type of roots along with the habitat of the plant.

Not long after my love for botany began I discovered Professor William Thomas Stearn, a British botanist. His most important work was Botanical Latin first written in 1966. Basically a bible for botanists and horticulturists and a source of useful and trivial information for avid gardeners and etymologists. I own a copy and reference the book nearly every day. A great collection of grammar and syntax of botanical Latin, and covers the origins of Latin and latinized geographical names, colour terms, symbols and abbreviations, diagnoses and descriptions, and the formation of names and epithet. Great for understanding the way descriptions are built and Latin terms are used in the botanical field. I recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding botany and Latin meanings of plants. Though a bit intense to read it’s a good book to have on hand, especially when you need to know more about that plant you just purchased or if you’re like me and have a love for botany and science.

I have often thought about taking a botany class at the only college in Eastern Ontario I can find that offers it, but the college is still too far away for me to attend every day at this point. Maybe one day. It would be quite an experience and I have always wanted to learn all there is to know about botany.

A quote from John Berkenhout in 1789 – “Those who wish to remain ignorant of the Latin language, have no business with the study of botany”.

plant monday – rose ‘blue bajou’

Plant of the week –
Common Name: rose ‘blue bajou’
Botanical Name: rosa floribunda

Not a true blue rose as the name implies, but this rose is an interesting lavender or light mauve colour that will appeal to many rose collectors. Blue Bajou has an upright growing habit with clusters of gorgeous, double blooms.
Floribunda roses, produce abundant clusters of colourful flowers over a long season and will often rebloom. Most bloom in clusters, while some may produce flowers only one to a stem. Floribunda roses are a cross between a hybrid tea and a polyantha. They are usually hardier, bushier, and more low growing than the hybrid teas. They make beautiful landscape roses, best used for borders, hedges or mass plantings.

Description – perennial
Hardiness Zone – 5-10
Exposure – full sun
Mature Height – 3 ft
Bloom Time – early summer-fall
Bloom Colour – Mauve
Scent – highly fragrant 

photo credit – magic garden roses

botanical treats

I have never heard of Botanical Bakery before, but I think I’m addicted now. A friend and I often get together some Saturday mornings for coffee or tea. Today at our get-together she offered up some Garden Shorties that she got at Chapters and they were out of this world tasty ! Shortbread cookies with a buttery texture made with all natural ingredients, some of which are plucked straight fom the garden – a very neat idea for cookies. Lavender and Lemon Thyme were the two flavours she had [the lemon was fantastic], but upon further inspection I discovered Botanical Bakery also carries Fennel Pollen, Peppermint Cacao, Cinnamon Basil, Cardamon, and Ginger.

Each cookie starts with three organic ingredients: hard red wheat flour unbleached, fresh-churned 85-percent-sweet-cream butter and pure cane sugar. And I love how on each package there is a suggestion of pairings with tea, coffee and wine. You can pick up a box here to try. They also have sample sizes if you aren’t sure about a flavour.
I just have to try Fennel Pollen so I ordered a box.

monet’s gardens

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece” – Claude Monet, 1840-1926

One of the world’s most famous painters had a horticultural side which inspired many of his paintings. Monet pursued gardening as passionately as he pursued painting – planting, weeding and watering the densely packed flowers himself. In 1890, he was able to purchase the home and gardens outright, at which time he employed six gardeners to assist him in creating one of the most beautiful floral landscapes in the world. The garden consists of two parts – the Clos Normand flower garden near the house and the Oriental water garden which is just across the street. The main garden is set out on a grid with herbaceous plants such as roses, delphiniums, nasturtiums, foxgloves and vegetables allowed to grow and flower in super-abundance. Now, the 5 acre garden is maintained by 8 gardeners throughout the year.

In Giverny, France, artists and gardeners alike can enjoy Monet’s house, three studios and gardens from April through to October. Off-limits is his greenhouse, however, which he built himself and cultivated orchids, exotic ferns and grew his seedlings.
Another garden on my ‘must visit’ list.

Monet’s pink house and the colorful area of parallel flower beds he designed.
In October, the tall flowers of late season mix their pinks, blues, yellows, oranges and reds and their different textures and shapes, creating a living painting that moves in the breeze. Sages, dahlias, asters, cosmos, roses, black eyed Susan, tithonias are all enchanting in September and October.

The famous Japanese Bridge that Monet painted so often. There are 272 canvases by Monet featuring his water garden.

Claude Monet in his garden.

photos from giverny-impression.com

it’s spring indoors

Well, it sure isn’t like spring outdoors today – very wintery with snow and freezing rain and everything is cancelled for today, so these tulips make it feel more like spring. I guess March is coming in like a lion, as they say. But, at this time of year there is always a sea of potted tulips in grocery stores, department stores, hardware stores, and of course, nurseries.

With spring officially arriving this month I wanted to pick up some potted tulips for indoors and I found some at Walmart, of all places. The soil was completely dried out and crumbling to pieces, as their plants always seem to be, but I felt a strong desire to bring 4 of the potted plants home with me. The tulips already being further along in their life, I always like to preserve the blooms for as long as possible. Normally by keeping the plant as cool as possible and the soil slightly damp will help with that. I like to keep my potted tulips on a windowsill with the window cracked open ever so slightly, just enough to keep the window area cool without the cold winds at night killing the plant.

I planted them together in one large planter.

I have always discarded the plant after blooming has finished, but I am curious to see how well the tulip bulbs will do if I plant them in the garden this spring. I have read some articles that say they won’t bloom the following season, but will the next. Other sources say they can’t be planted outside after being forced to grow indoors. I guess it won’t hurt to plant them anyway and see what happens.

plant monday – coppertone stonecrop

Plant of the week –
Common Name: coppertone stonecrop
Botanical Name: sedum nussbaumerianum

I’m feeling the succulents love lately [and I feel I should post more plants for the warmer climates since they are just as lovely]. They require very little maintenance and watering so it’s ok to “forget” about the one you bought at the store and tucked away somewhere. Another great thing about these plants is they all start easily from cuttings.

This succulent has cylindrical foliage that turns a magnificent coppertone colour in the sun. A fairly low growing, compact plant that produces lightly fragrant white  flowers in a flat topped umbel-like inflorescence. Sedum nussbaumerianum was first discovered by Carl Albert Purpus at a sulfur spring in a ravine at Zacuapan in Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1906/1907 but was later described in 1923 by the German botanist Bitter who named it for Ernst Nussbaumer, the head gardener at the Bremen Botanic Garden in Germany. It was in cultivation under the name Sedum adolphi in California in 1944, and it wasn’t until 2002 when it was given the marketing name Coppertone by Magic Growers Nursery of  California.

For those of us in colder zones this plant looks wonderful in a planter making a colourful collection of succulents or mixed in with annuals.

Description – succulent
Hardiness Zone – 9-11
Exposure – full sun to part shade
Mature Height – 8″
Bloom Time – late winter-early spring
Bloom Colour – white
Scent – slightly fragrant 

photo credit – Canada Plants

my seed balls are going to 1st grade

My daughter’s grade 1 class has been planting seeds for their classroom to give kids the responsibility of being attentive to their own pot, nurturing the seeds with water and light, and watching their hard work blossom. They have planted marigolds, zinnias, California blue bells and asters. Of course, I would love to know which varieties they have planted, but the newsletter that was sent home didn’t have that information, heh.

I saw her teacher on Friday we talked about the fun craft of making paper seed balls. She seemed very intrigued and asked if we could make some up for the class to plant as well, and include instructions so they could get messy making some themselves. My daughter already being the master at making these with me loves this idea. Yesterday, we stopped by the store and picked up cosmos ‘purity’ and ‘savannah pink’ seeds. These are the ones we are going to send to school tomorrow. I think cosmos will be fun in the classroom.

The bowl on the right has the balls with cosmos seeds. We also made other seed balls that she wants to give to grandma. They have a mix of shasta daisies, marigolds ‘zenith mixed’, snapdragons ‘frosted flames’, poppies ‘ladybird’, asters ‘princess mix’, pink bellflowers, left over cosmos and geraniums ‘appleblossom’ – all seeds picked by the kid. We used 100% recycled paper pulp instead of just newspaper so they turned out a little prettier this time. We picked up mesh bags with pink ribbon at a craft store, so now they are ready for their trip to school on Monday.

We also had fun experimenting new ways to make seed balls that involved these items –
[post to come later…]