Yesterday morning in the Boise Airport, I salvaged the 'Life' section of the Idaho Statesman and carried it onto the plane. What fun it was to learn that Baptisia australis has been chosen as 'Perennial of the Year' by the Perennial Plant Association. Unfortunately the link to Margaret Lauterbach's column about this event has been shorn of the photos of her and of the plant. Margaret looks very much like the late Annette Hall, who was President of LWV Los Angeles when I joined in 1994.
The phrase 'Perennial of the Year' seems just a bit absurd. An annual award for a perennial plant? But musing on the Margaret / Annette resemblance got me to thinking about how new and old are so often intertwined. Googling Annette Hall brought forth two 1995 letters to the L.A. Times -- off-year elections and constitutional reform for California were the perennial topics -- along with a report of her presentation on 1992 ballot measures at a Pierce College forum.
Of course Baptisia australis (BA) is not NEW, but it has made NEWS, and is new / news to me! BA is a member of the vast pea family and thus a distant cousin of the perennial sweet pea I've already planted.(from seed) and written about in January. BA is a shrub, not a vine, and its many good qualities make it obligatory for me to search it out at the local nurseries.
Classified as a heritage perennial, BA will be a fabaceous* souvenir of my February trip to Idaho.
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*As a college freshman, I learned the word fabaceous. My friend Cathy, who collected and treasured vocabulary with me, actually named her pea-green bicycle 'Fabacia. ' My fat blue bicycle was 'Mildred' but that's another story.