Favorite Purple Bulbs--TOW

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Fri, 24 Sep 2004 11:36:44 PDT
Our discussion of the color purple has now tinted my domestic life. 

I live with my mother, who, although she loves gardens, plants and flowers,
will take any shortcut available to avoid using a botanical name. The usual
dodge is to point and say "the red one" or "the yellow one" and so on.

Usually it works. But since the garden is densely planted, and since
(warning: VBG ahead) my exquisitely refined taste, artfully nuanced color
sensibilities with nary a color clash in sight, and love of harmony -
domestic and otherwise-   have  resulted in the placement of many flowers
of roughly the same hue and chroma nearby one another, there is bound to be

While trying to get my attention to see a bird the other day, she called
out "look, over by the purple thing". I looked. To my eyes, there was not a
speck of purple in sight. "Where, where?" I kept asking. Again and again
came the increasingly more annoyed reply: "by the purple thing". Each time,
her call was rejoined by a similarly more annoyed "what purple thing? I
don't see any purple thing". 

The bird was long gone by the time I figured out that the "purple thing"
was a Lythrum. To my eyes, Lythrum is magenta, pure and simple. 

I told a friend this story soon afterward, and got no sympathy from him.
"You, of all people, should have known that Lythrum is called Purple
Loosestrife, not Magenta Loosestrife."

Well, I'll have you know that I think most of you are color blind! And in
this garden, it's not known as Purple Loosestrife, it's Lythrum. 

And tomorrow I'm off to the local Dahlia show to critique their color
assignments. And I'll bet you a blue Dahlia I don't see one, nor a good
purple one, either. But there will be plenty of magenta. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I forgot to mention
that the reason Purple Loosestrife is called Lythrum in this garden has
nothing to do with the color deception suggested by the common name; no,
it's because the loosestrife part is obviously wrong. Not only did I not
see the bird, I had to make my own supper that night! 

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