So the big question is, WHY? Why do I do that? Am I just really that much of a great big gardening wierdo, or do other gardeners subconsciously apply a gender to most plants?
|'Heritage', male or female?|
What of non-flowering, or inconsequentially-flowering plants? Boxwoods and junipers are mostly males to me, as are yews and hollies (whether it is Ilex 'Blue Girl' or 'China Boy'). Cornus stolinifera is male, while Cornus alba 'Ivory Halo' is female. And what about trees? Cottonwoods are female, I think, while Maples are primarily males. Sycamore trees and Burr Oaks are very masculine, while Pecan trees are female. Here's a good one; Purple Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Purple Fringe’) is male, while yellow Cotinus coggygria ‘Ancot’ is female to me. I've lost my senses, haven't I?
It's certainly not just the name of the cultivar. Turning back to roses, 'Earth Song', a fuschia Buck rose, is a male to me (shouldn't it be female...i.e. Mother Earth?). But I view 'Carefree Beauty', a softer pink Buck rose, as a female as you would expect. 'Prairie Star', a gender-neutral name of a soft-blush rose, is undoubtedly female. Here's a test for you: What is the Bourbon rose 'Variegata di Bologna'? Male, right? Am I okay with accepting magenta 'Mme. Issac Pierre' as a female or do I really, deeply, think of the Mme to be Mmmmmmm Issac Pierre" in my Midwestern drawl, and so she's a "he" deep in my mind, a deep magenta named as a man while I ignore the Mme. prefix? Bright red 'Olympiad' is definitely male and in a like vein, the same bright-red tones of 'Linda Campbell' make that stiff rugosa cross a male in my mind as well, despite the honor of being named after a prominent female rosarian.
I hate to bring Freud into the discussion, but how much of my bias is dictated by flower form? I'm admittedly biased that obviously phallic daylilies, knipofia, and globe alliums are predominately male, although I think of many pink daylilies, such as 'Attribution' as female. Purple daylilies like 'Night Embers'and even brash oranges like 'Kwansi' are just as surely male. Mushrooms are male, and asparagus is male. Pumpkins and watermelons and grapes are female. Oriental lilies are female. Period. Anybody surprised?
Well, now that I've exposed my floral-related gender biases, I'm sure that I'm going to find other gardeners whispering around behind my back at meetings. But before you dismiss me as a Garden-variety Gender Offender, please take a moment and consider. Did you disagree with my assigned genders for any of the plants named above? Did you?