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Have you ever noticed, the more you see, the more there is to see.

plant lust has changed my life in so many ways. I love working here. And by here, I mean at home with computer, cats literally on my keyboard, and the garden steps away. My boss, Megan, who says she isn’t my boss, is most definitely no slave driver–except insofar as it applies to herself.


Datura flower with bee. Didn’t see till I stuck my nose in there.


In the beginning, what I didn’t know was legion. As irony would have it, the more I’ve learned, the worse it’s gotten. Oh I have learned tons, I’ll give you that, but it’s like anything you examine closely, the more you look at it, the more you realize there is to see. But that’s a good thing, right? Where I used to go awry more frequently, is in believing that I have to know it all before I could even get started. This is incorrect.

Datura Seed Pod
Datura Seed Pod

Clovis & Josphine, proud parents to all SIX kids.


I blame my sweet proud parents. They were always raving about how at age three I could tie my own shoes and knew all the states and capitals. I could work our wooden US puzzle in nothing flat. The curse of parents celebrating your genius when you’re a wee seedling. Conundrum is, I somehow got the idea if I wasn’t prepared to hit the ground running at expert level, I shouldn’t bother trying. In looking at old pictures, pre-one more kid, I’m thinking the shoe tying business was likely out of necessity–not my personal brilliance.



Cunningham kids.
Cunningham kids, only five so far.


I believed that I needed to know everything about gardening before I wore my first pair of good shoes into the dirt. Then I made the discovery that most things planted will grow. I suppose it helps to know more, but sometimes I pine for the days when I didn’t know as much, and ended up with amazing results. Zone Schmone.




I once bought a couple ferns in four inch pots, not knowing anything about them, and, of course, didn’t record any details. I planted them outside our kitchen window and they grew to fabulous proportion, easily shoulder height. I put a Hosta ‘Sum & Substance‘ between them, with no idea how big its leaves would grow. The vignette looked fantastic. But alas, after a couple of good seasons, an ice storm snatched the ferns away. I didn’t photograph plants back then, so I can’t show them to you. But Megan had the foresight to snap the Hosta. (The photos by her on our site is my actual plant.)

But back to my theme, after researching the first few thousand plants on our site, I thought I was doing okay in coming to grips with genus. (Not as much confidence on the pronunciation front, though loosening up on that front too. If we can get across what we’re talking about, good enough.) For instance, I now recognize all kinds of disparate Eryngiums as kin.



Recently, Mr. Lance Wright, his smart self, suggested I might enjoy Botany in a Day. So I dutifully checked it out, and quickly realized there’s a good case for continuing up the botanical ladder, on to Family. (I was not, sad to say, able to learn botany in a day, but I made a start.)



My point, Family only takes me three rungs from the bottom. Next thing I know, there’ll be some compelling reason to keep trotting up the hierarchy, on to Order, Class, to Life itself, for Pete’s sake. Easy enough, I thought at first, there are only eight taxonomic ranks. But of course, it splits into a zillion more branches from there, and so on. I might as well be trying to eradicate the wild garlic in Megan’s huge backyard. She’s on year 15 of the project, and those ornery little rapscallions are still showing up.


Eryngiums everywhere if you just look
Eryngiums everywhere if you just look


I can report that I’ve begun to absorb the lesson that learning is a process, that goals and ideas change along the way—and often happily so, and that you have to get a little dirty to get anything worthwhile done.