I am the type that keeps a special few people close to my heart. I don't have an extraordinary amount of friends and loved ones but those I count in that group will be with me in one way or another forever.

Especially with my move from Texas a little over 2 years ago, I left many of my friends and family a thousand miles or more away. To quell my cabin fever and homesickness in one fell swoop this winter, I am planning a Properly Named garden. In this special garden, I plan on putting some flowers and plant cultivars that are named with or similar to my loved ones' names.

I know yours will be different, but I will share with you mine and hopefully inspire you to plan your own. I also know that it might be years before I actually acquire some of these plants, but knowing that they exist and might someday exist in my garden gives me peace.


Genevieve is my paternal grandmother, from whom I got my nose, my laugh, and my liberal spirit. She is still living in Oklahoma and a testament to will power and tenacity. She's had more joints replaced in the past ten years than I knew possible. One of my most joyful memories is of her and my grandfather dancing at my wedding, cane-free, as the winner of the longest married couples' dance (55 years then), not a year after her shoulder replacement.

Daylily, 'Genevieve Barry'



Marianne was my maternal grandmother, from whom I got my artistic passion and talent as well as my love of red geraniums and silk scarves. Manu, as I named her when my lips were too small to say her real name, was my first and best art teacher; a watercolorist and world traveler who painted birds, flowers, and exotic landscapes. She passed four years ago and remains the most impacting person in my life. These plants would bring me a peace beyond their pretty flower.

Abutilon, 'Marianne'

Daylily, 'Marianne Cox' (photo courtesy of Nancy Oakes of Red Lane Gardens)

Jan, Anne, and Allison

In my life I've had friends, and then I've had Jan, Anne, and Allison. These are my college girlfriends whom I don't talk with often, but when we do get together it's like nothing has changed except our locations and usually our hairstyles. Jan is in Houston, Anne is in Oklahoma, and Allison is in Washington D.C., which puts us just about as far away from each other as four people can get. When they came to visit this past summer, they all loved my gardens and enjoyed sitting next to my pond as much as I do. Having a reminder of them will bring joy to my garden.

Rose, 'Jan's Wedding'Lantana, 'Anne Marie' Daylily, 'Allison's Wedding'

Nancy, Lee, and James

My immediate family including my mother, Nancy, father, Lee and brother, James, all still live in Texas. My brother is in Lubbock and my parents still live in Houston. That's an eighteen hour drive across Texas, New Mexico and Colorado which isn't made very often. I don't have to explain how much these people mean to me and how much I miss them. As I looked for the plants I want to represent them, I found some funny things. There's actually a dahlia that combines my parents names, 'Nancilee,' and I especially like the Iris, 'Oh James.' Fitting for a (formerly?) mischievous younger brother, don't you think? These flowers would make a beautiful garden even if they didn't mean so much.

Iris, 'Nancy's Lace'Iris, 'James Bond'Daylily, 'Lee Pickles'
Iris, 'Oh James' Dahlia, 'Nancilee'Chinese Peony, 'Fancy Nancy'

Becki, Jamie, and Susie

Everyone has fun aunts, but with any luck you have smart, caring, and involved aunts like I do. Becki, Jamie, and Susie are three of my aunts that have been quite influential in my life. Becki is a fellow green thumb, who once upon a time taught me to braid hair; with Jamie I have fond memories of "seat belt checks" and certain dress up mask named Clarabell; and Susie is who I am named for. She also taught me to crochet and summer visits to see her in my youth led me to fall in love with Colorado, which is where I live now. The brugmansia in the thumbnail at the top of the article is a cultivar called 'Susanne' as well. What a colorful spot my aunts will give me in my garden.

Viola, 'Rebecca'Daylily, 'Jamie Dockery'Begonia, 'Susanne'


Karen and Sarah

Karen is my oldest best friend. We've known each other since we were 13 and have seen each other through some wild things, both good and bad. She still lives in my hometown of Houston and is almost done with a Juris Doctorate in animal law. Sarah is a newer friend, but she was a fast one. She's a fellow artist, teacher, and gardener. I taught her everything I know about plants and now she can grow them better than I can! A garden named for my loved ones wouldn't be complete without these ladies.

Iris, 'Karen' Lilac, 'Sarah Sands'

Zoe, Simon, and Violet

Since I don't have "real" kids yet, my furkids will have place in my garden named for them. Violet, the yellow-eyed gray kitty, is an easy one to find in plants obviously. Simon and Zoe, my two large mutts are a little trickier to plant for. But I've found some beautiful, full sun flowers to represent them in the garden. Not that they let me get too far out of their sight when I'm gardening...

Rose, 'Simon Bolivar'Hibiscus, 'Zoey'Cleome, 'Violet Queen'

Now how did I find all of these plants with which to plan my special garden? I'm sure there are many ways to do it, but I went to the Plant Files search function and typed my loved ones' names in to the cultivar box. Short names like Jan and Lee are more difficult because they occur in many other common plant names. I just looked until I found a beautiful plant or flower that I would want in my garden. It seems like there are so many varieties of iris and daylilies that I had plenty of options, not to mention all the annual and tropical cultivars out there.

So have fun planning your own Properly Named Garden with your loved ones in mind and create a wonderful reminder of those you love and miss.

Thanks to the wonderful contributors of Plant Files for their images:

Iris 'Nancy's Lace - AggiegrlRose 'Jan's Wedding' - Grampapa Daylily 'Jamie Dockery' - Mystic
Iris 'James Bond' - BootandallAbutilon 'Marianne' - KellDahlia 'Nancilee' - Mgh
Rose 'Simon Bolivar' - Calif_SueBegonia 'Susanne' - KniphofiaIris 'Karen' - Puttytat
Cleome 'Violet Queen' - CrimsonDaylily 'Lee Pickes' - MainiacDaylily 'Genevieve Barry' - quiltlily
Brugmansia 'Susanne' - dottnmdDaylily 'Allison's Wedding' - Mellissa_OhioPeony 'Fancy Nancy' - Sanannie
Hibiscus 'Zoey' - ecrane3Iris 'Oh James' - mghViola 'Rebecca' - Saya
Lantana 'Anne Marie' - Fleurone Lilac 'Sarah Sands' - Todd_Boland

Daylily 'Marianne Cox' - Nancy Oakes from http://www.redlanegardens.com/