Naff names by Katherine Crouch

July 3, 2014

in Articles, General Interest, Recommended Reading

There may be slightly less posting here over the next four months, as I have just signed a contract to write a book. (over 20 thousand copies sold so far..2017.) Forty thousand words before Christmas and we’ve still got coach parties and Sunday openings at the Veddw. Couldn’t resist the flattery of being asked, before you ask.

And, no, this is not another ‘Why do we use Latin names?’ piece, nor ‘Why do we keep changing plant names?‘ piece. More a – ‘Please can we change the plant names?’ piece…

Anne Wareham, editor

Boy o Boy Copyright Katherine Crouch

Boy o Boy..

Katherine Crouch

I had a lovely day at Kingsdon Nursery recently, buying plants I really didn’t need, and coming away with extra primroses and every colour of sweet violet, thanks to Mrs Marrow’s generosity. Did you know that dusky Papaver orientale ‘Patty’s Plum’ originated on Mrs Patricia Marrow’s compost heap in Kingsdon, near Somerton? Thanks Mrs M., and happy birthday: 90 last week and still gardening.

A new variety of plant needs a catchy name to help boost sales. When it comes to naming new plants, I can’t help thinking this job sometimes gets left to the last minute and is only remembered down the pub on a Friday night after many beers.

Could you really call a meeting to order and have a serious discussion while sober, about the merits of a scented multi-flowered daffodil with white petals and a short orange trumpet and conclude that the best name for it would be ‘Geranium’? A five-pint moment for sure.

Double Click Copyright Katherine Crouch

And some of us thought the double click was obsolete..

What addled brains ran out of superlatives and thought up Marigold ‘Boy O Boy Mixed’ and Nasturtium ‘Just Peachy’? How the company must have tittered when a new pastel mix of Phlox drummondii was christened ‘Phlox of Sheep’! Some seed catalogue punnery is truly toe curling.

Still, the seed company Friday night down the pub is a sedate tea party in comparison to the drunken orgy that must take place at the American Hemerocallis Society annual bash.

Click on Daylily Database and marvel at the list of 77,080 hemerocallis varieties and on the very first page, contemplate the state of the minds that thought up ’11 o’clock Toast to Jack Sheehan’, ‘A Babbling Baboon’s Bouncing Babies’ for day lily names.

AHS Registration Rules  is a 9 page document defining what you may and may not call a new daylily. There must be a maximum of 30 letters, no names of royalty, no Latin names unless as part of an English phrase in common use, no names similar to those already registered and – many many more rules. I think the breeders must take great delight in thinking up the most ridiculous names still within these parameters.

Campanula Blue Bloomers Veddw copyright Anne Wareham

Another of those falling off their chairs laughing moments?

Honouring this spirit, I am tempted to plant a day lily border of ‘Little Bugger’, ‘Abby Dabby Doo’, ‘Big Bodacious Blonde’, ‘Honey I Shrunk the Cat’, ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk’, ‘Inky Dinky Doo’, ‘The Moose Camped in a Tent Tuesday’, ‘Kissed Off’ and ‘Zzzz a Zinging Giant’.

I don’t care what they look like, but the ‘Garden Talk’ around the ‘Campfire Glow’ this summer is going to be ‘Plum Bizarre’.

Katherine Crouch


Katherine Crouch portrait






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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine Crouch July 14, 2014 at 10:29 pm

yup, the number of names that suddenly make sense if you pronounce them as if very very pissed. Try Musa basjoo after 6 pints, and if anyone can manage Chusquea culeou correctly without chemical assistance you are doing very well


Linda Casper July 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Names like phlox of sheep are certainly easier to remember!


Amy Murphy July 8, 2014 at 2:45 am

I really hope you plant that daylily border beginning with “Little Bugger”…


Nick July 6, 2014 at 10:19 am

However even the latin names give my garden tours a (much ) needed laugh when Silybum marianum is pointed out


Sarah Coles July 5, 2014 at 11:20 am

I can hear the guffaws when they named a very decent rose Sexy Rexy. And why did they name the holly Silver King when it’s female and needs a male nearby for berries?.And don’t start me on those testosterone pumped veg recommended for ‘exhibition work’.


John July 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm

I wonder what is so special about French yellow? Is it decidedly different from English yellow or Spanish yellow? “French” is in the wrong place.

Far more surprising is the new knowledge I’ve gained that people actually garden when sober! I find weeding is a lot easier after I’ve fallen over and am nearer the objective. I also find I worry less about accidentally pulling out the wrong plant.


Tristan Gregory July 3, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Maybe if we all made a point of gardening drunk we might have as much fun as they appear to be having.


Helen Gazeley July 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Oh, good grief. I had no idea that day lilies were so nominally challenged. And delightful as I’m sure Mrs Marrow is, I do wish Patty’s Plum had remained on her compost heap


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