Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Labels for Plants Can Apply to Human Beans' Habits, Too

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Labels for Plants Can Apply to Human Beans' Habits, Too

Article excerpt

The way some plants look and act can come in handy as a way of describing people.

Someone may say, "She's as durable as pothos," for example. Or, "He wilts like a peace lily or rhododendron." Or, "What's up with Miss Thing? - she's prickly as a cactus." Or, "They're a stately couple, solid as an oak."

My list of possibilities is endless fun; it's always interesting and gratifying to find ways of linking plants and people.

For my part, this endeavor usually relies on ornamental plants to make a point or a description.

But Herman Smith, 66, a longtime education official, has developed a lively system in which people are compared to vegetables to describe their work habits and productivity. Or lack of same.

Smith's fertile grounds in southwest Atlanta are the perfect setting to inspire such theorizing.

Our destination was the vegetable garden, a plot that measures some 40 by 90 feet. Of course, his is not just an organic vegetable garden; it's a collection of archetypes because "people are just like vegetables."

Some types:

Purple hull peas - Smith says the plants "do not require a lot of attention. They're very tough, and they're prolific. Some people are like that." Similarly, purple hull pea people "are very productive. They're almost self-starters." (Smith says pole beans "are right next to purple hull peas.")

Tomato - (It's technically a fruit, you say. Let's include it because it has a veggie attitude). "They don't require much attention," Smith says of tomato plants and people. "They're beautiful to work with. Most rewarding. Very, very nice, and they just keep on producing." As his were on the day I visited.

Okra - The plants are slow getting started, says Smith, "But you just water them and take care of them, and when they feel like it, they will make you proud." While basically tough, they "need a lot of sunshine. …

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