Monday, May 24, 2010

Tender Perennials (So-Called)

I ran into my friend Barbara at the garden center. She didn't see me at first because she was studying the lavenders with a wrinkled brow.

"Barbara!" i said.

Her face lit up and relaxed as she re-cognized me. At least something here was familiar. "You can help me," she said confidently. "Which lavender should i buy?"

Hmmm. I started my lavender from seed 33 years ago, and the name on the little brown seed packet is lost in the mists of time. Now it was my turn to study the white plastic markers.

Provence lavender sounded wonderful, but wait a minute. There is small print it says, "TENDER PERENNIAL." Greek lavender--TENDER PERENNIAL.

Well, it might be perennial 3 climate zones and 800 miles south of here. "TENDER PERENNIAL" is simply code that means "ANNUAL." The only way these varietes of lavender--or rosemary, for example--are perennial is if you dig them up and bring them into the house in September.

This sort of stretching of truth is actually a form of lying. Its goal is to mislead the customer. "TENDER PERENNIAL" does not qualify as skillful speech. "TENDER PERENNIAL" simply means that you, the consumer have to perennially treat this plant as tenderly as a baby. Since i have dozens of plant "children" (okay, thousands), this baby will most likely be lost to frost in the fall.

Barbara and i settled on Lavandula angustifolia "Hidcote" or "Munstead" as being most hardy, but the lavender mood had passed, and she walked away without buying anything.

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