Never has a tree been targeted for such public ridicule as the Bradford pear recently in nearby Prince George’s
County, MD, where there’s a move afoot to remove it from its hallowed position as official county tree. It was given that honor because it was developed at a USDA facility located in the county, but now everybody knows it’s a crappy tree and a major horticultural mistake.
Why? Because it has a "weak crotch," also a "putrid smell." Man, that’s cold. But well deserved.
I first heard about the anti-Bradford campaign from a Washington Post reporter who’d found my blog post Death to my Bradford Pear and called for a comment. Isn’t that one of the coolest things about mouthing off online, that people Google some weird thing and find our little rants and raves? Like fans of Paul James finding me and people interested in the brown marmorated stink bug finding Kathy Purdy. (She’s surprised by the attention but happy to house all 226 comments about this apparently important bug!)
Here’s the Bradford pear story in the Post. The Bradford in the center of the photo above is long gone and five Arborvitaes are on their way to filling in the space, and some.
Then there’s the writer for the French horticulture magazine La Garance Voyageuse who found my post about poison ivy while researching the plant for an article in the mag. He emailed me in grammar-school English to ask if he could use this photo, I said yes and voila! – he actually followed through on his promise to send me a copy – snail mail from France, three copies! Now I studied French for six years and even lived in France for a while, so you’d think I could translate the thing, but you’d think wrong. Sigh.
The title of the article is "Amerique du Nord, une empoissoneuse au coin du bois!" and I can’t make any sense of it. Online translation: "North America, an empoissoneuse on the corner of wood!" At least there’s an English version of their website, which tells us that the Garance is a weed in France, thus magazine title "The Traveling Garance."
Okay, it hardly qualifies as swag, but here it is. A free issue of La Garance Voyageuse goes to anyone who reads French and promises to tell us generally what the article about poison ivy says. Are they plant-bashing, ridiculing all of North America or just the silly notion of a Poison Ivy Rights League? (People in my town assume this to be a joke but the joke doesn’t translate well, even to people who live in this region. You have to know how silly a knee-jerk lefty town can be at times.)
Just send me your address and a genuine French horticultural magazine is yours – for the price of a quick-and-dirty translation. Results will be reported and credit given, of course.
We have our translator! It’s "Suzanne aka Vertie at Vert Austin. She doesn’t promise perfection but this note is reassuring: "There’s a reason why my blog is named Vert."
We thank Suzanne for stepping up to the plate. With her help, we’ll all have a peek inside another gardening world, one that’s closed to us by language.Susan Harris on May 24, 2008 at 4:17 am, in the category It's the Plants, Darling.