What's In A Name?

What's In A Name?

The highest colour diversity in flowers appears at this time of year, i.e. peak blooming time, but this week I've chosen mostly white flowers for my display.

All around the garden we have a floriferous member of the Iris family, which self-seeds freely - Libertia grandiflora (New Zealand Satin Flower). I'm always interested to find out the origin and meaning of botanical names and wondered if Libertia would put me in mind of a story, maybe one of a liberating battle? No such luck. It was named after a Belgium botanist, Marie Libert (1782-1863) who wrote on liverworts! Grandiflora is self-explanatory, big, showy flowers.

That led me on to look up the meaning of Choisya ternata, a well-loved shrub from Mexico with scented white flowers. Once again, I found it was named in honour of a botanist, Jacques Choisy (1799-1859) from Switzerland. Ternata tells us a little more about the plant, meaning 'in clusters of three' - describing the form of its leaves.

There's a large shrub arching across Radiata Path with exquisite small flowers that can be easily missed. Its name is Enkianthus campanulatus and this name comes not from Latin but from Greek. Enkyos means pregnant, and anthos means flower. Unsurprisingly, the flower gives the appearance of being a flower within a flower. Any bell ringer or campanologist will tell you that campanulata refers to the flower being bell-shaped. Enkianthus are native to north east Asia and grow best in the same areas as Rhododendrons, and not only do they carry an AGM (Award of Garden Merit awarded by the RHS for best all-round garden value) but bear delightful flowers in early summer and the leaves colour brilliantly in autumn.

By Nicky Wharton, Garden Archivist

Related articles