From The Desk Of Bill Varga

Someone once said, “A Prophet is not a Prophet in his/her own country.” I was confronted with this dilemma early in my career. Traveling to England some 40 years ago, I was met at the Royal Botanical Gardens queue by the curator of the alpine gardens. His first comment, “I just returned from a very rewarding plant collection trip in your Uintah Mountains.” Do you have to be thousands of miles away to see the plant possibilities in our backyard? Fifteen years ago, the Chicago Botanical Gardens partnered with the USU Botanical Gardens to study some selections of our native flora. One of the plants, Bridge’s Penstemon, P. rostriflorus, was part of the study. When the final data was collected, we at the garden saved some of the Bridge’s Penstemon which showed promise. Once again, it was a non-local promotion of our local flora. We were now in a position to piggy-back on their interest. These held-back Penstemon were observed at the botanical center for over a dozen years. This year we at Perennial Favorites, with the USU Botanical Center, are hoping to increase by cuttings, the longest lived, extended blooming season of Bridge’s Penstemon. We are planning to add it to our ‘Standout’ collection of perennial plants of particular interest and added value to our gardening clientele. Yes, if you can’t be a prophet in your own country, it may pay to be ‘Tricky’! Come visit our trial gardens while considering next year’s fall plant order. Join the fun and sneak a new plant of promise to our gardens. Bridge’s Penstemon is a familiar fit. It actually lives here!!

A Bit More Interesting History:

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.  Here are some facts about the 1500’s:

   Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

     Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.  The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children.  Last of all the babies.  By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.  Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”  

     Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath.  It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.  When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

    There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.  This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

     The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing.  As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside.  A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way. Hence: a thresh hold.                     (I THINK WE’RE GETTING QUITE THE EDUCATION!)

   They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to this to survive you were “Piss Poor”.

   But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot.  They “didn’t have a pot to piss in” and were the lowest of the low. 


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