Among the minor reasons I took up blogging was to simply make an effort to retain plant names again. I’ve got shelves of old garden notebooks, in which I kept copious notes of plants desired, plants purchased, when they were planted in the garden, lists of seeds, when they were sown, nurseries, gardens to visit, etc., a habit I no longer keep that seems as far away and unattainable now as legible handwriting. I console myself with the theory that it’s the Internet’s fault, that since there’s so much information immediately available my plant sleuthing skills and memory are withering away, and that this is what’s responsible for the demise of my record keeping. But I do worry that I’m subconsciously viewing plants now as interchangeable shapes and colors, spiky or round, shade or sun. I much prefer being on a first-name basis with them.
There was a time I could stand before any plant in my garden and know its name by genus, species, and variety, but so often now when I stand before a plant there’s just a blankness. Here’s a case in point. This little abutilon has so much to recommend it. True, the flowers are small and do not possess the dramatic shape and coloring of some of the megapotamicum varieties, but the overall proportions of the plant — leaf, flower, and size — work so well together. It is not excessively scandent, with branches splaying out and dragging along the ground like so many abutilons end up behaving, but has a compact, bushy shape.
I was sure its name had something to do with avocados, like ‘Guacamole,’ but apparently not, so it shall remain nameless. If I should lose it, I’ll be unable to replace it. And when I give cuttings to friends, there will be that awkward moment, like not knowing someone’s last name when you introduce them: You’ll love this plant! It’s Abutilon _______________. The hybridizer’s handiwork will also regrettably go unacknowledged.
In my defense is the simple fact that this is an extraordinary time to be a gardener, with easy access to many great specialty and general plant nurseries. In an attempt to break the bad nameless habit, I’m trying out a “Recent Plant Purchases” page on the blog to keep a running list of new plant acquisitions. This makes me very, very happy.