IF YOU ARE are a plant person, I expect you will nod in empathy with what I am about to say. If you are not a plant person, perhaps this will help you to better understand how it feels to be a plant person.
I'm talking about Plant Prejudice.
The plant world is divided into different types of plants. And while all these are created equal, they are certainly not equal in the eyes of gardeners. You see, the world of gardeners is also divided into types.
Let me put this into Rock terms, if that makes it easier. We all know rock fans may be roughly divided into two general categories: Beatle people and Stones people.
These rough categorizations express an aesthetic, spiritual and even philosophical dichotomy. Some argumentative types might also add in the Velvet Underground to form a trichotomy. That's OK.
The point is, likewise, plants may be roughly divided into two major categories: Monocots and Dicots.
Monocots are things like palm trees, various waxy tropical buddies, lots of weird plastic-looking houseplanty things, and so forth. They often have no flowers worth mentioning; or else they have flowers with no fragrance. For example, take the excellently named Beer Plant, a.k.a. Cast Iron Plant, a.k.a. Aspidistra elatior, which is said to be so hardy, it can live in a dorm room closet on a regular diet of beer.
Despite its party-hardy constitution, I hate Cast Iron plants. Their flower is one of the only legitimately ugly flowers I have ever seen in my whole goddamn life.
"Dude. I'm soooo wasted."
Believe me, this photo is unbelievably flattering.
Dicots are things like roses, gardenias, all kinds of fragrant herbs and shrubs and veggies; wonderful Mediterranean plants and all kinds of trees.
My badass first horticulture teacher, the Esteemed Dave Lannom, is a hardcore Monocot Person. He is known in the world as "the Palm Man" due to his main obsession. As he puts it in his typical deadpan, "I have a little thing for palms." But the truth is, he is obsessed, and he can't help it. Therefore, I can't blame him.
I believe that plant people are born with certain predilections which they can't really control.
Myself, I am a dicot person. I discovered this while taking Dave's Horticultural Science class last fall. I love European plants and cottage gardens, and I can't help it. I need flowers that smell good. I need Italian tonic and culinary herbs. I need gardenias. Most of all, forever and ever, I need Lavender.
"Get with the program, people. The Lavender program."
Granted, I do love lilies, which are monocots. But I feel that lilies are only monocots in biology; in spirit and every other important sense, they are dicots.
"Now," you ask. "What differentiates the two?"
What a great question.
The main thing is really weird. I mean, it's a really tiny difference on which to base two entire regions of the plant kingdom. But whatever.
When a monocot is a little tiny baby plant, and it grows its very first seedling leaves, it only grows one single leaf.
A baby dicot grows two.
But then what's really cool is that this one tiny difference grows to become many bigger differences, involving the way their veins look, the ways their roots grow, all sorts of major things.
And then there are the Velvet Underground conifers, which are neither monocots nor dicots, but something quite unique (or wholly derivative, depending on your perspective).
They think they are So Cool.
Anyway, I am very ecstatic to be Dicot Person, now and always. This picture, of a beautiful fragrant gardenia, tells you why.
"The whole world smells of love, it seems."
My mother, Faith — my first gardening hero — is an absolutely incredible woman. She also wrote a wonderful novel called Gardenias. This is purely coincidental.