The Name Is The Game

They grow here by the scores, mostly shades of blue and pinks with a few, too few of the native ones over in the Wildflower Corner.

So why would we buy another, one might rightly ask. It isn’t even pretty, like the ones already growing here are.

They are easy to grow, throwing out seed with wild abandon if not deadheaded, and who has time for such things as that anyway? Unwanteds are easily pulled, although we seldom go to that bother. The wild and unkempt look is appreciated here, Nature’s roulette.

It was the name, plain and simple, that hooked me. I walked past it twice, thinking it would not be money well spent, even if only one was purchased, even with the promise of free seedlings dangling in the future of the tightwad gardener.

Who could resist it? My favorite food group combined with patriotic pride. Presenting Aquilegia viridflora ‘Chocolate Soldier’, now living in the Fairegarden.

As a retired accountant, I learned about marketing while in school as part of the core college business curriculum. It was an intriguing subject, the science behind what makes consumers choose one product over another, or even buy something that they don’t really need. It is about perception. Names matter. A lot. This could be A. ‘Raspberry Tart’.

In the world of patented plants, the name can make or break a new introduction. Wise marketeers seem to have discovered that including food in the name, especially desserts will help sell an otherwise ordinary plant. We could call this one A. ‘Blueberry Pie’.

And so, dear readers, I fell for it, this food-oriented name, against my better sales resistant instincts, even though we are awash in volunteer columbines. It’s The Name Game, like that old chestnut from days gone past:

Written by U.S. singer Shirley Ellis with Lincoln Chase. Ellis’s recording, produced by Charles Calello, was released in late 1964 as “The Name Game.” Most of us of a certain age know every word to this song by heart, even after not hearing it for many years. Now that’s good marketing.


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20 Responses to The Name Is The Game

  1. georgiafromga1 says:

    Oh Frances, what a fun trip down banana-fana Memory Lane with you this morning. Thanks for sharing your exquisite columbines, each one more lovely than the last. And you are so right about names. My great big ‘Guacamole’ hosta makes my mouth water.

    HA Georgia, I also have Guacamole hosta! We just cannot resist those clever food names. Good thing it turned out to be one of the best, most drought tolerant hostas ever. Banana-fana, good one!

  2. gardtho5 says:

    Oh, Frances…one can never have too many columbines! Of all the beautiful spring blooms, there’s something about columbines that I just adore. Lucky you for the many volunteers! I remember purchasing my first few columbines at a time when our budget was pretty tight–and every cent was well worth it through the years! Thanks for sharing your lovely photos! (P.S. I’m a former marketing girl, and boy–you are so right about names determining product success. One of my responsibilities was to name new product lines–I loved it, but it was a bit nerve-wracking.)

    Hi Julie, thanks. I love that the columbines get all mixed up, now. I used to pull the pink ones, wanting different colors. How silly. Lucky you with that naming job. I often have thought that would be so fun, but like all marketing, failure can be devastating.

  3. I love Raspberry Tart up there. I’ve seen red columbines and the pale pink, but not that raspberry color.

    Hi Kathy, that is a pretty one. I don’t remember seeing it before, more burgundy really, but the sunlight makes it appear lighter.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I just read another post about names of plants. It must be on everyones mind. I have bought several plants that I didn’t really need because of the name. Names of family members or friends reside here in the garden. Your collection of Colubine are gorgeous. How could your resist another? You need them all! 🙂

    Hi Lisa, thanks for that support! Yes, we need everything! Collect them all, as my grandson says, only half jokingly. The names of family members definitely get my gardening dollars, too.

  5. This post made me acknowledge to myself that I don’t give my volunteer columbines enough attention and appreciation. Isn’t that always the way…they just show up, do their best (which is very good), don’t ask for anything and, in return, get taken for granted. Shame on me! I’m going out right now while there seems to be a break in the rain and give them a good approving look and a few words of encouragement. Thanks for the nudge.
    The hosta people seem particularly good at coming up with a name that makes the purchaser feel good about parting with money. I happily paid some primo $$$ for Fried Green Tomatoes…it just seemed so right to be living in the south and be able to point with pride of ownership to such a named variety.

    Hi Michaele, thanks for making me laugh this morning! I hope your columbines perked up their ears to your pep talk! Hostas are the most inventively named, I agree. How about Elvis Lives? It has been hard to resist that one. We don’t have much shade here and hostas don’t do all that great or I would be tempted much more.

  6. chris says:

    what a beautiful blog you have. I’m so glad I found it. expect to learn a lot.

    Hi Chris, thanks, I think. Your comment sounds so much like spam, so general with no reference to anything specific in this post. But your link seems legit. I will let this one slide.

  7. I really do love columbines but for some reason did not plant them at this house. I had many at my last house including the wild variety canadensis. I guess I was thinking I didn’t have room for them but they are tall and slender so I am sure I could fit a few in!


    Hi Eileen, thanks for adding in here. Columbines are so polite, they don’t take up much room and have lots to offer, even when not in bloom, not to mention the free plants from seedlings. You need some!

  8. Turling says:

    A retired accountant, heh? I’m an active accountant, so there’s hope for my garden yet. Apparently, when I retire.

    A client I used to have back in my consulting days was a flower seed manufacturer (grower?) in San Luis Obispo, California. They spent forever and a day naming the new types they came up with. Now, I know why.

    Hi Turling, thanks for visiting. Being a retired anything makes for much more gardening time. Being an accountant makes for organized thinking skills! How fun to name new plants, I think that would be the best job.

  9. Janet fo-fanet, banana fanana fo-fanet…..Love that song. I just found a three VERY discounted Columbine at Lowe’s and Walmart….only one had a name on it, though they are all dark purple and doubles.

    Hi Fo-fanet, thanks for stopping by. Our Lowe’s had many of the native columbine ‘Little Lanterns’ marked way down. I got a few, yes. You can’t go wrong with columbines.

  10. My Kids Mom says:

    I just added a red and a yellow to my growing mass of blue and white. I showed my kids a photo of the columbines and they both thought it was taken at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Yay! My own Botanical Gardens.

    That is wonderful, Jill! How proud your kids much be to have a mom who created their own private botanical gardens. I have been to the one in Atlanta, that is a wonderful place, too.

  11. _emily_rose says:

    It will be a pretty plant, and I hope it lives up to its name 🙂

    Hi Emily, thanks for the good wishes. It’s a columbine, so you really can’t go wrong with it. I put it in the Black Garden.

  12. I’m always a sucker for a good plant name. That’s why I like to have ‘Liberty’ in my garden (a hosta) and always make sure my garden includes at least one ‘Happy Thought’ (a pelargonium). However, until this year, I have been unsuccessful at my vain attempt (literally/figuratively) to grow my namesake ‘Helen Elizabeth’ poppy. Crossing my Helenelizabethy fingers! And, of course, a columbine by any name would be sweet.

    Hi Helen, thanks for taking time to drop by and I hope you are feeling better. I certainly hope your namesake poppy grows well for you. There are hardly any plants with my name, but since my mother’s name was Helen, I might have to look for your poppy!

  13. Dee says:

    Well, I think it’s pretty in its own dark way. I love the name too.

    Thanks Dee. The photo is a glamour shot, it is not that pretty in person, but the name makes it loveable anyway.

  14. Kathleen says:

    You will never regret buying that sweet columbine Frances! I had it in my Boulder garden some time ago and just started seeds for them again last year. I have plants that look as tho they will bloom this year so I’m crossing my fingers. Congrats on your new addition ~ it is lucky to have your garden as its new home too!

    Hi Kathleen, thanks for adding that. I hope your babies give you flowers this year. I love a plant that self sows.

  15. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I’ve just been outside deadheading the Hinckley’s Columbines into a paper bag. Screaming yellow coming your way soon!

    Hi Cindy, thanks so much! I do love those yellow columbines, had lots of them in my Texas garden. I know just the spot to sow those seeds!

  16. lfeit says:

    Wanted you to know that the amsonia you gave me (last year?) is starting to open its blue star flower heads….and the seeds saved from last year have sprouted, every single one. I’m now awash in baby amsonia…enough to populate the wilds behind the backyard beds and take plenty to SC.
    Thank you, again, Frances.

    Hi Laurie, thanks for letting me know! I love those blue stars and also love that they are so free with their reproductive habits. Planted en masse, they will look lovely in your gardens.

  17. patientgardener says:

    I adore Aquilega or should I say Columbines. I prefer the US ones to the European ones as I like the spurs as opposed to the dumpy flowers we have

    Hi Helen, thanks for stopping by. I love them all, but the longer spurs are very attractive. Our new Chocolate Solder might be considered dumpy by some.

  18. Gail says:

    Frances, Columbines are charming ~all of them and even if the flowers on say, the ‘Chocolate Soldier’ are dumpy, their foliage is outstanding. I have the best luck with native columbines~the species and cultivars~But, like you, I decided to give ‘Chocolate Soldier’ a try. I hope they seed about. xoxogail

    Hi Gail, I hope your Chocolate Soldier, and mine, and everyone’s, seed about. Maybe they will even come up with some new and interesting color and form combinations. I do love all columbines, too.

  19. Rose says:

    Just skimming through your last couple of posts, Frances, and I couldn’t resist leaving a reply here. My garden is full of Heucheras with names like ‘Tiramisu,’ ‘Key Lime Pie,’ and ‘Creme Brulee.’ I know you’re not supposed to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, but apparently one’s tummy should be full before plant shopping as well:) “The Name Game” was one of our favorite songs to sing on long schoolbus trips many years ago.

    Hi Rose, thanks for skimming! Tiramisu is one of the fave Heucheras, the colors are unique and it is a fave dessert, as well. Those plant namers know their business. We can sing on the bus at fling. HA

  20. Sue Ellen says:

    Glad to see the picture of ‘Chocolate Soldier’. I just purchased this plant. I was intrigued by the name and it didn’t hurt that it was on the 50% off rack at the local box store. Looking forward to the day this accountant can retire and spend more time in the garden.

    Hi Sue Ellen, that is wonderful, half price! May your retirement allow you to have some garden fun, whenever that might be.

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