Tuesday, March 9, 2010

But shouldn't they just call it Whitebud?

This question was seriously asked of me recently, when I was discussing installing a couple of "Texas White" redbuds at the Big House.  The person asking really did make perfect sense.  After all, why would one continue to call it "Redbud" when its flowers are white?

Similarly, I was presenting a program to a local gardening group last night and we came across a photo of heliotrope.  I had to explain this is not the sort of heliotrope you regularly buy, but rather it's "garden heliotrope," now widely considered an 'antique' flower.

I was reading Claire Sawyers book, The Authentic Garden, a little while ago, and came across this great passage, "A look at gardening catalogs reveals endless efforts to produce plants with 'improved' forms.  Plant breeders work to make tall plants short, delicate petals thick, single flowers double, red flowers blue, flat petals ruffled.  They work to make spring-flowering plants repeat bloom in the fall or fertile flowers sterile to last longer.  They make plants we love look like other plants; consequently, we have daffodils that look like dahlias, dahlias that look like chrysanthemums, and mums that look like peonies.  It seems that we come to take for granted whatever original quality we appreciate in the plant and want to turn it into something else.  Capturing nature means appreciating the distinct character not just of the place but also of the individual plants of that place."

Is it a dahlia or a chrysanthemum?  And should it exist in a garden where it requires such extraordinary effort just for it to survive?  Things that make you go hmmm...........


  1. Even when they are not white, I wonder why it is called redbud. Maybe purple bud, or lavender bud, but definately not red.

  2. Tim,
    Probably not. At least they boom about the same time. It makes me want to re-evaluate some of the "improved" plants in my own garden.

  3. You are starting to touch on my preservation rant.