To Name A Plant

“What’s the name of this plant?” Carrie asked.
           I pulled a weed from my only hibiscus, hoped the deer wouldn’t eat the shoots, and looked to where Carrie pointed. Doggone, my brain’s neurological pathways refused to connect and say, “Heliotrope.” How could I forget the name of the delicate, fragrant flower?
           “Why didn’t you ask me to name yarrow,” I joked. “The deer don’t touch it.”
           “I’m sorry. About the deer, I mean,” she replied.
           Out of the blue last May Carrie called. “I want to learn about growing lavender. Do you accept volunteers?”
           I scanned the property, assessed the magnitude of work awaiting my two hands. Mentoring takes time and thought. Did I have some to spare?
           “You can think about it and call me tomorrow,” Carrie offered.
           I appreciated her consideration. That meant this stranger was listening to me, what I did and didn’t say. “Thank you. That’s a good idea.”
           After consulting my husband, we decided Carrie might be what the farm needed this season to help us groom our lavender hit hard by April’s ice storm. Jubilant, a few days later, Carrie followed me to our neglected west plot.  
We swept three season’s worth of poplar leaves and lavender stems from the weed cloth, and then scooped the piles into garbage cans. She’d never driven a golf cart, so Carrie preferred to drag the loaded cans downhill to the compost bins while I pruned shrubs.
           Week after week Carrie came back. Like a pro, she cleaned my former gift shop floors and windows for my book signing, then the chandelier in the hen house.
           “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” I asked.
“You bet. My Dad owned rental properties. My sister and I cleaned them,” she said. “I find it relaxing.”
Truly? One more thing this former social worker and I have in common—the first being the love of flowers and learning their names.
At last, the bees showed up in the lavender fields.
“Time to harvest,” I announced when Carrie stepped out of her car a fine July morning.
           She almost ran to the field. We sat on our stools while I demonstrated how to clip stems.  
“What’s the name of this lavender plant?” she asked.
“Violet Intrigue, an English lavender. Some growers consider it the finest culinary variety.”
Carrie sighed. “I’m in heaven.”
After bundling Violet Intrigue, we carried our stools and empty baskets up the hill to where my volunteer had cleaned the field.
“What’s the name of this lavender?” she asked and held a few blooms to her nose.
           “Royal Velvet, another English lavender, a lavandula angustifolia in botanical terms.”
“This is the purest, cleanest scent I’ve ever smelled.”  
I smiled at her observation. “That’s why botanists named it lavandula from the Latin root lavare, which means ‘to wash.’”
This, dear Reader, is what life is like on the farm with Carrie—to name a plant is the delight of our day. 
Now we wait for hibiscus blooms.