Guest Rant by Amy Campion
Like thistles invading a garden, hackneyed phrases have seeded themselves into garden writing and need to be rooted out.
They choke out good prose and distract from the message. What’s more, they really irk me. If you write about gardening, I beg you to weed these expressions from your vocabulary:
“Plant x is like plant y, on steroids.” Please, please—if nothing else—let this one go. It hasn’t been clever in 30 years. I know you can think of something better.
“Plant x blooms for months. Like the Energizer bunny, it just keeps going, and going…” *groan* Do you still have a pager? A VCR? We’ll be happy to have you join us in the 21st Century when you’re ready.
“Plant x (something tall and skinny) is an exclamation point in the landscape.” I like this expression, but it has been hijacked by so many writers that it’s becoming trite. Use with caution.
Speaking of exclamation points, don’t pepper your writing with them. They make it hard for me to take you seriously! They make me feel like I am reading a 10 year-old’s diary! Mark Twain said using exclamation points is like laughing at your own joke. Don’t laugh at your own joke. (Tweets, status updates, and the like are a little different. In those contexts, exclamation points have firmly ensconced themselves.)
Unless you’re five years old, please don’t refer to deer as “Bambis”.
“Plant x is the Rodney Dangerfield of plants.” *cringe* If you’re going to reference stand-up from the ‘70s, at least make it Richard Pryor or George Carlin.
Let’s retire the phrase, “I’d plant x even if it never flowered.” Show your readers that you know other ways of saying a plant has nice foliage.
Keep anthropomorphizing under control. “Plant x resents disturbance.” “Tolerates shade.” “Hates wet feet.” “Doesn’t play well with others.” A sprinkling of such phrases is harmless, but if you begin to catch yourself referring to plants as “he” or “she”, realize that you may have a problem.
And, I suppose there are always new gardeners coming along who don’t know it, but please don’t tell me again that goldenrod doesn’t cause hay fever. Okay, okay. I get it.
After working 16 years at a wholesale/retail nursery near Cincinnati, Ohio, Amy Campion now avoids clichés like the plague at What Blooms When.
on April 17, 2014 at 6:15 am, in the category Guest Rants, It’s the Plants, Darling.