Thursday, July 1, 2010

An indigenous charlatan

I thought I’d tell you a little more about what I do. Oh, you already know I’m a verbose and opinionated South African of forty summers, but I’ve been fairly reticent about what I do for a living up till now (except that it involves farms). That it gives me something to talk about on this, a day when my head is perfectly innocent of thought, is convenient, I’ll admit.

Have you ever noticed that when you have some sort of skill you feel like a bit of a charlatan? The premise behind this is ‘I know this because I learned it, you can learn it too, so I’m not all that wonderful’. Its perfectly true in its way, but of course it ignores the fact that I (or you) know something that the other party doesn’t, whether they could actually learn it or not. Anybody suffer from this syndrome?

With this in mind, bear with me when I tell you that I am regarded as something of an expert in the field of South African native plants (although I certainly don’t feel like one). I’m not a botanist: haven’t a methodical enough mind, but I can oversee the production (it involves chicken manure, among other things) of a large variety of native plants. I can talk about plants: to audiences of any size, and I can write about them (although I prefer not to) I know the Latin names too – thousands of them, and I even understand one or two of them. Here’s a goodie:

You will no doubt be acquainted with the Maiden-hair fern (genus Adiantum). Its an almost unbelievably soft textured plant and so is well-named. I recently had to grow a species for a local development. It, too, is a Maiden-hair fern, but with a course texture suitable to dry environments. Its name is Adiantum capillis-veneris. Think about it: Maiden-hair fern (Adiantum), hair (capillis), and if you can’t think what ‘veneris’ is, I ain’t going to tell you. You may now say that you are acquainted with someone who knows how to grow pubic-hair ferns. Who says science can't be fun?

I think I like my job. It doesn’t pay that much, and I have to do all sorts of things that usually go under the heading ‘Management’ which aren’t really my cup of tea, but on a balance, though rather more pressurized than most people expect (‘You’ve got an outdoor job with flowers, how nice’) I quite enjoy it.

So I suppose you get another flower today….


  1. Very cool! I always enjoy hearing about what people do. The second paragraph- yeah- you summed it up so well. I took a botany class in college- I enjoyed every minute of it- it was very hard work- and I don't remember a thing. And now I know why you take so many flower shots!! Beautiful.

  2. My dad went on a leadership course and apparently a majority of bosses have suffered from impostor syndrome, which is when you worry that you've tricked everyone into thinking you're more able than you are. I get a form of impostor syndrome when answering my little cousins on why do cows have horns, etc.

  3. I think your jobs sounds cool! I wish I knew more about plants I'm a brown thumb!

  4. Hey BFF :-) - can I have permission to use your quote with your blog link on 'the eye and photography' that you posted on my last blog? - I'd like to put it on my sorely neglected photo blog. That's a heck of a lot of blog in one comment!

  5. Thanks for the interesting info, Pure Tones. Now I want to know about the cows!

    Karl, growing plants is easy. Someone asked me about growing seeds the other day, and I suggested they put them in the ground and water them. See? You knew that didn't you!Time and space are more of a problem.

    Thanks as ever, PAMO for the supportive comment. Quote? But of course! It was for you, and therefore it is yours.