naming names

Hello everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with. You may remember me from such posts as “The Abandoned House” and “A Close Call”, among many other delights.

Today was a really excellent day, very cool and perfectly suited to a border collie’s constitution. Here I am being quite photogenic on this excellent day. The guy I live with says you can see really far down my nose in this picture. It’s an excellent nose, if you didn’t know.


The first thing that happened today ….really almost the first, because I didn’t feel like getting up until slightly after 10 a.m. (there wasn’t much of anything to do today, so why not lie on my soft Pottery Barn sheets with the fan blowing cool air on my nose), but when we did finally get up, and went on our walk, the guy I live with said that the poop I looked at along the canal road was bear poop, and so we looked around really quickly, but didn’t see any bears coming after us going “Tumty tumty tum”, which is what the guy I live with says they say. I bet that’s not really true.

Then, when we got back, he got his new coffee maker delivered, and spent a couple of hours reading the instructions. He said the should have gotten that doctorate in quantum mechanics he’s always been talking about, before trying to make coffee. He finally figured it out, though.

Then, the guy I live with got a box of bulbs from Lithuania.



He was very excited. These are all irises from Lithuanian Rare Bulb Garden and he started planting right away. Well, after he figured out the formula for making coffee in the new coffee maker, that is.

You can see that all the rain we’ve had has made the “oncos” very happy indeed. This is Iris iberica elegantissima or something like that, with flowers of Senecio longilobus crashing the party.


It made him kind of sad, too. He said he’d rather go shopping with my mommy and buy her stuff, but he can’t do that any more. There was this jewelry store on Pearl Street in Denver that they used to walk by all the time, and she would look in the windows and sigh, and one day she actually walked in, and the guy I live with told the owner not to let her leave until she bought something for herself. Well, so now he buys bulbs for himself.

Anyway, that was our day. You may wonder why I titled this post “naming names”, and now I’ll show you, instead of just being mysterious. The guy I live with took a picture of Salvia reptans, which didn’t come out (because he didn’t really take a picture of it at all, just a shot of the area which it was sort of in) and was going to wonder why they call this “West Texas form” when it only grows in West Texas. Why not just call it “the actual plant”?

So that was the first thing. Another was Salvia azurea. Why people say Salvia pitcheri or Salvia azurea subsp. pitcheri or  Salvia azurea (or pitcheri) var. grandiflora when they could just say Salvia azurea to mean what they mean, and not something that isn’t anything else, he doesn’t know. Salvia azurea is the prior name, and so why not just leave it at that.


Here is what people call Salvia lemmonii. Or, so says the guy I live with, Salvia microphylla subsp. wislizenii. The accepted name of this plant is actually Salvia microphylla, no subspecies (according to Flora Mesoamericana).


So, the guy I live with wonders, why is this one hardy and other samples of Salvia microphylla aren’t? He’s “trialling” (that is, waiting until they die) a bunch of others this year.

The other thing that bothers him is the spelling wislizenii. A literate Latinizing of the name Wislizenus (ignoring the W of course) is wislizeni, as in Penstemon wislizeni. I’ll bet there isn’t a single other person on the planet who thinks about things like this. I certainly don’t.

Next, Salvia ‘Raspberry Delight’, but the wrong color. The leaves have the right minty smell (instead of the gross smell of Salvia greggii), but ‘Raspberry Delight’ has flowers that are darker red, instead of pink.


Lastly (thank goodness, huh), Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’.


The guy I live with wonders why people think this one is hardy and all the rest aren’t. “Well”, he can just hear them trying to explain, “it was especially selected for hardiness in Texas”, which of course is a really big deal if you live in a place in Texas where they think it gets cold.

All the other color forms of Salvia greggii have made it through several winters here, except of course for the ones that died.

I’m sorry this has been so boring. You could tell that by all the italics. The guy I live with said if I wrote all this, then I could show more pictures of me. I guess that’s a fair trade. Who wouldn’t want to see more pictures of me? I know I do.

So I’ll say goodbye then, and hope you enjoyed at least some parts of this.



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18 Responses to naming names

  1. Karen says:

    Oh Chess! that last shot made me laugh, I love all the Salvia’s and these are great shots of you teeth and all, have a great weekend both of you.

    • paridevita says:

      Thank you, though, we don’t have weekends. Every day is exactly the same. About six months after the guy I live with retired, he realized that the “flavor”, if you know what I mean, of each day had disappeared. It was profoundly disorienting, so he says. Every day is the same to me, so I couldn’t relate.
      He often thinks it’s a completely different day, like today he thinks it’s Saturday, when the computer says it’s Friday, and he’s been thinking it’s 2012 since last January.
      Always behind the times. Typical.

  2. Cute you!!

    I am impressed by getting bulbs from Lithuania. Wow!!

    Love all the Salvias.

    • paridevita says:

      It’s not much of an effort being cute. I just stand there.
      The guy I live with says that ordering bulbs from overseas is one of the funner things in gardening. He got his shipment from Ruksans in Latvia last month, and bulbs from the UK and Lithuania this month.
      You have to pay for a phytosanitary certificate, and that’s it. He used to order seed from Czech collectors, and that was really fun too, but now a permit is required, and he applied for a permit last year or the year before (he forgets) and they didn’t issue him one, so he figured he was on some sort of Black List, because other people who applied for seed permits got them.
      So he gets bulbs instead.

  3. Fisher, the Wonder Dog says:

    My grammy says that seeing the Lithuanian postal logo was certainly a jolt from her past, having spent her early formative years in the household of fanatical displaced Lithuanian patriots. (Lithuanian was her first language, but she says she no longer has the ability to speak it, but can still understand and read it, which is just too strange a concept for me to ever get my head around). She says Leonid’s (clearly NOT a Lithuanian patriot) home page reads like a page from the book Everything Is Illuminated.

    Your guy’s garden sure is looking spiffy—this time of year, our gardens are definitely on the down slope, just waiting for the clippers and the rake. My grammy looks forward to putting the garden to bed, so to speak, because it means that winter is coming and that means that we can all go skiing, except me. I would like to go skiing, but no one seems to want to bring me along.

    Regarding the making of coffee–Chemex. Oftentimes simple is the best, especially since doctorates in quantum mechanics don’t grow on trees. We threw our last coffee making machine in the trash around five years ago and have never gone back. Plus we all think that coffee tastes best when it is brewed in the absence of metal and plastic. And the Chemex never breaks down–it just breaks, so we keep a spare in the pantry, just in case someone gets the dropsies.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with has been in Colorado since April 1961 and has never been on skis.
      He can also understand and read several languages but not speak them, so it’s not all that weird. The less talking he can do, the better, say I.

      Oh, we had a Chemex here. My mommy didn’t like it, for some reason, and it got dropped “accidentally”. It made really good coffee, but once it was dropped, that was that. The Melitta makes really good coffee but the guy I live with decided he needed a Bunn high altitude brewer, so that’s what he got. No waiting for water to boil and then spilling half of it all over the stove.
      He says it makes pretty good coffee, and since he needs a great deal of it very quickly in the morning, I guess that’s okay. My buddy Slipper liked coffee, but only with cream and sugar in it. I think I already said that somewhere else.

  4. Oh, Chess, your portraits are the draw for me here — and your wonderful voice, the ramblings both physical and verbal of your person, and of course the gorgeous photos. I sure am a sucker for anything salvia. If I have claim to knowing any celebrity, it is my acquaintance with Betsy Clebsch, who wrote a book, since revised, on salvias. We fed her dinner! I’m hoping to see her next week at a garden conference, the chief lure of which is touring Bancroft garden, the wonders of which dry splendors I’ve heard much about but never seen. It’s the garden the Garden Conservancy was formed to save. Uh oh, rambling. In summary: Never can be too many portraits of Chess.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with’s grandfather called them salivas, and it’s hard for him not to say that too.
      The Ruth Bancroft garden looks nice from the pictures, but not for anyone with a photogenic nose to get poked. I already have a visible scar, the little spot, and agaves and such have a tendency to stab and jab.
      I agree, there can never be too many pictures of me.

      • Vivian Swift says:

        My sister once mispronounced “emeritus” as Em – Er – Eye – Tis (like an inflammation of the Arab Emirates) and now I have to stop myself whenever I am tempted to use that word in conversation. You would think that that word would rarely come up in conversation but it has a dark power that draws me toward its utterance just so I can give myself the opportunity to look stupid.

      • paridevita says:

        I bet most people mispronounce tinnitus, too. (As though it were spelled tinnitis.)
        We just saw a trailer for a movie about Jekyll and Hyde where they mispronounced the name of the main character. “Jekyll” rhymes with “treacle”.
        But what can you do?

  5. petabunn says:

    Laughing a little at the top, laughing hysterically at the bottom, what fun you are Chess. Do you really get bears where you live Chess, you have to always look over your shoulder then. The biggest thing we get in our garden are wallabies and I like to bark at them at night and I also try to chase the possums but they just laugh at me and run. We don’t have many plants delivered, but I love to investigate any parcels that come, they are just so much fun, sniffing where they have been. More great photos, keep them coming.

    • paridevita says:

      We think we might have bears. No wallabies though. The guy I live with has a friend in Oz whose roses were done in by wallabies. It of course reminded him of a song that was popular when he was a kid, “Tie me kangaroo down, sport”.
      It is indeed fun to investigate bags and boxes which come into the house. The best ones have Stilton in them, though “I do like a bit of Gorgonzola”.

  6. Vivian Swift says:

    I come here for my border collie fix and my o my, what a rush I got today.

    WALLABIES IN THE GARDEN?!?!? And when an Australian says they “chase the possums” does that mean scampering after the only North American marsupial (which I did not know they had in Oz) or does it mean something else kind of spacey but harmless…like questing after windmills of the mind?

    Also: French horns and Lithuania… what is up with that logo?

    (I had a lot of caffeine this morning.)

    • paridevita says:

      Not a French horn, a post horn. Ancestor of the French horn, tooted to tell people the mail had come. In lieu of viciously barking border collies. (I am very aggressive at the front door.)

  7. Truly, a package designed by Pynchon. I’m sure it was described somewhere in the pages of The Crying of Lot 49.

    • paridevita says:

      If you look up post horn, there’s a list of countries whose postal services still use a post horn in the logo. I looked at the wiki for the Czech postal service; the Jugendstil façade of the post office in Prague is stunning.

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