Friday, December 12th, 2008...9:32 am

Do you know what espalier means?

For those who don’t subscribe to a website called Wordsmith which has definitions and etymologies of all sorts of words, TheGardenLady wants to direct readers to this week’s words and photos. This week the words are related to trees: espalier, topiary, pleach, bonsai and pollard.

TheGardenLady has only cut and pasted the first word of the week-espalier– so that the reader has to enter the “A Word A Day” Wordsmith website for the other words.

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg

A few months back I featured this quotation from the journalist Hal Borland (1900-1978): “You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.”

Astute linguaphile Mark Germer wrote in response: “Recent work on information processing (even kin recognition) in plants suggests that there may be more going on there than we now understand; as for birds and mammals, it has long been appreciated that they are perfectly capable of deception and subversion. For my part, I don’t find these things odd or disturbing, as it’s the continuity of all life that intrigues me most. Humans are not alone in their baseness — though a few may be alone in their desire to rise above it.”

Mark said it well. There’s more to trees and plants than we think (see nature.com). So next time you pluck an apple from a tree or trim that hedge, be aware that it may not be as oblivious as you think.

This week’s words relate to what we do to the trees: chopping, trimming, twisting, bending, and stunting as we shape them.¬† espalier

PRONUNCIATION:
(i-SPAL-yuhr, -yay)

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