Breaking Ground

Keeping in Touch

by Derek Burch


Garden writers need constant contact, not only with the things about which they write, but with the people that they are trying to reach.


I am reminded of this all the time by the several question and answer pages that I haunt. The questions are cries for help, and are touching in their efforts to describe the problems which they concern. I find that I have to go beyond reading the words in many cases, to try to visualise what the writer is seeing, rather than what I know the words to mean technically.


Fortunately the writers are not bashful, and plunge into descriptions using whatever comes to mind to illustrate their point. And there is always a great satisfaction in reading the words over and over again when a plant is being described. until finally some phrase or word hits the right synapse and I can see the plant in question, and come up with a name for it..

Of course, I have to remember as I write this, that I do have the occasional senior moments when my mind might as well be drawing its inspiration from a cup of mushroom soup as from my brain. Perhaps the descriptions are pretty good, and I draw my own gauzy curtain across them from time to time.

Be that as it may, I decided to try to present a framework for plant descriptions, both for people needing plant identifications, and for those who need to specify the part of their plant that is turning red/brown/black/yellow/upside down/inside out.

I don't usually use this space for a "what is in the magazine." I have too many axes to grind and causes for which to plead to waste a possible audience, but I realise that the world of plants is an alien one to most people, and this is my attempt to remind myself and you of the basic symbols and gestures that will begin communication.

Keep those letters and postcards coming, folks.
E-mail to is the quick and easy way.

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