How do garden plants get their names?

By: Lela Martin

Most plants have common names. However, these can be inexact. For example, is a “snowball bush” a viburnum or a hydrangea? The plant kingdom contains about 300,000 species. In the 1700s, Carl Linnaeus devised a method to classify and name them. The method of identification and classification (taxonomy) is the basis for plant names (nomenclature). You might say, “That’s Greek... READ MORE

Grow your family tree

By: Lela Martin

If everything else is equal, you can even select a plant because of its name. To honor my minister father, whose name was Jack, I selected native Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) for its common name. For my daughter, I’ve planted Tradescantia x andersoniana, ‘Sweet Kate,’ for the cultivar name (definitely not because of its icky common name — spiderwort). Since my... READ MORE

The ties that bind never lose their import

By: Bob Levey

Spring cleaning is usually a major bore and a major chore. Find a large plastic trash bag. Head for the main closet. Identify t-shirts and socks that no human being ever will (or ever should) wear again. Stuff the stuff into the bag. Repeat. And then head for Amvets or Goodwill, drop it all off, feel virtuous, go home. But this past spring, the ritual annual purge brought me up... READ MORE

A voice for Virginia’s Native Americans

By: Glenda C. Booth

The cement path in Capitol Square spirals like a nautilus, leading to a fountain and meditation circle inscribed with the names of Virginia Indian tribes and the rivers that ran near their homes. Called “Mantle,” the abstract monument to local Native Americans was dedicated in April. Its name is symbolic on several levels — referring to the mantle of the earth, the mantle of... READ MORE

Washington shines in the literary spotlight

By: Dinah Rokach

Whether you choose to join the summer tourists or wait until they’ve left town, reading about the District’s sites broadens your horizons. These books about Washington, D.C. hold a special appeal. America’s Greatest Library: An Illustrated History of the Library of Congress, by John Y. Cole, 256 pages, 250 color illustrations, D Giles Limited in association with the Library of... READ MORE

Five upcoming plays with Jewish themes

By: The Beacon

In August, September and October, five theaters in Montgomery County will produce plays with Jewish themes. It’s entirely a “happy coincidence,” says David Fialkoff of the newly formed Jewish Community Theater of Montgomery County (JCTMC), as the plays were not planned to coincide. As its name suggests, the group is dedicated to presenting plays and musicals in the county about... READ MORE