P71008Landscape Designer, Brent Green and I are both very professional at work. Brent is particularly well dressed, well groomed and well spoken. I happen to be simpler and plainer, but it works for the clients who respect my expertise. What our clients do not see is how we interact with each other. It would be very easy to be offended. Yet, we consult with each other almost daily, usually when Brent is driving somewhere . . . alone. We get loud, obnoxious, rude, crude, potty mouthed and just plain nasty!

Years ago, when Brent got his telephone connected to the stereo in the car, he made the mistake of driving up to a drive through window at a fast food establishment while talking to me. I listened to him place his order, and then shouted, “THIS IS A HOLDUP! GIVE ME ALL YOUR MONEY!”.

Last year, while stuck in traffic on southbound Highway 17 with the top down in the old Chrysler, I took a call from Brent. I was using some weird hands-free device at first; but when Brent started rapping about some very objectionable subject matter, I just had to share. I disconnected the device so that the call was coming through on the stereo, and turned the stereo up very loud. I just sat there calmly and tried to look as if I did not know where all the commotion was coming from, although it was obvious. I just didn’t care. Neither did Brent. He was 350 miles away.

However, not all of our nonsense is so senseless. We have developed quite a bit or our own private vocabulary and horticultural slang. It works for us because we share so much common experience. Much of the slang applies to ‘ethnic horticulture’, which refers to the gardening styles of particular ethnic groups. Brent’s favorite ethnic group to invent ethnic horticultural slang for is of course mine. Although I am only halfway of Italian descent, I can really identify with Brent’s observations of the gardening habits of people of Italian descent.

My ancestors have been here so long that the ‘old country’ refers to Sunnyvale (California). Yet, somehow, some traditions continue through many generations. My great grandfather grew many of the plants that are very stereotypical of Italian American gardening. My pa is more cosmopolitan, but he and I still enjoy some of what we learned from my great grandfather.

This is some of the slang that Brent developed for some of what I grow in my garden:

  • dago pansy – nasturtium
  • dago begonia – geranium
  • dago sunflower – dahlia
  • dago rhododendron – oleander
  • dago tomato – tomato (duh)
  • dago wisteria – grape
  • dago plum – fig
  • dago berry – olive
  • dago spruce – Italian cypress
  • dago firewood – any fruitless tree
  • dago ghetto grass – Astroturf (not in my garden)
  • dago groundcover – red lava rock or white moonrock
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