Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Letters from Home: Always read the labels

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You learn this as you go.

When there’s a man in your life you quickly learn to grab the printed directions and stash them for future reference as men do not read labels or follow directions.

If you don’t, you are so often going to be faced with a washing machine that doesn’t work properly or wind up hopelessly lost somewhere out the back of beyond because he’s put them “somewhere”.

 What I have especially learned by trial and error over too long a period is to keep the labels from plants bought for the garden.

I now also use Google (Google is always your best friend in such things) but back when I didn’t there were times I planted things in the wrong place, to see them wither away in frost or heat or wind up with an enormous wide spreading bush in the front of some dainty daisies who spent their life gasping pathetically for light and air.

I also learned that you couldn’t trust the descriptions on the labels.

Too often the plant described as a “luscious deep purple” would be what my mother would call a puce of the most violent shade, or “needs watering in summer” means that unless the hose is left constantly running and you are prepared not to faint when the water bill comes in, it will kark it at the first sign of a moderately warm day.

So, now I read the labels and before anything gets its place in the garden, Google is consulted, and the various internet gardening Facebook pages also asked questions.

These can be helpful, with people on them turning a whiter shade of pale when they find you are about to spend a fortune on something they know has no hope at all… they are more than happy to scream don’t touch it, and to suggest something else, or to tell you it will dig your house up after only three years…

Take the Fiddlewood tree…

Bought from Bunnings as it looked to be a nice bush, labelled as “aromatherapy” in the nursery with promises of the utmost perfumed delight… so I bought it – you think I would have learned by now…

and came home to Doctor Google to check out its intriguing name… yep it’s bark is used to make violin cases, BUT…

The forum people say don’t plant it anywhere near the house, it grows to 20 metres *thud* it gives someone hay fever, and the pretty perfumed flowers are so abundant they make the lawn slippery when they fall…

Ah well…

But reading the labels also often cause me to think ???? For example…

The label on the humble Red Hot Poker… warns me that it is grown for ornamental purposes only and should not be consumed or used in any medicinal application… ? Who eats or smokes red hot pokers? 

I haven’t noticed any of the local birds that feast on them staggering around with their eyes rolling.. and chirping to each other about: “the good stuff”

Leonotis carries a similar warning that – “The plant is a broadleaf evergreen large shrub native to South Africa and southern Africa, where it is very common. It is known for its medicinal and mild psychoactive properties.”

The final thing about garden labels is to KEEP THEM…!! Nothing is worse than buying a plant on impulse that grows to be so magnificent it is much admired by visitors.

If you haven’t kept the label, you look like a goose as you drag your toes into the grass and say… um… “well I don’t really know… “

At least if you have memorised the label you can dazzle them by coming out with the scientific name  – “ah yes! My Syzygium Australe, beautiful isn’t it..” while you stalk off preening and snickering and they gasp in admiration … The fact that it’s just a new form of Lilly Pilly… need not be mentioned…

It pays to keep the labels!


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