Q & A with John Watkins, Garden Guru at Discovery Park

Growing up, I always had a fascination with Greek mythology. Even though I couldn’t pronounce half of the names in those old tales, I thought it was kind of neat how the ancient Greeks came up with some pretty elaborate stories to explain things they couldn’t understand. (Kind of the same way that I used to try and explain algebra to my boys when they were young.) The Greeks had some especially interesting ideas about how plants came into being and thus many plants to this day bear the names from these tales. So in order to get the real low-down, I thought I might sit down and have a little conversation with our own resident Greek Titan here at Discovery Park, Prometheus.

John: “Prometheus, thanks so much for taking a little time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. I know you’re really chained to your work, but I was wondering if you could give us a little more insight into how some our modern day plants came into being?”

Prometheus: “I always welcome the opportunity to enlighten humans about our ancient history. Besides, it might be a pleasant distraction from this eagle that is constantly trying to pull my liver out!”

John: “Yeah, sorry about that. Let’s start with one of my favorite spring flowers, the Hyacinth.”

Prometheus: “Ah yes, that’s a good one alright. As you probably know, Hyacinthus is the Latin name for your modern hyacinth. In my time, Hyacinthus was a popular lad who included as his friends such notables as Apollo and Zephyrus the West Wind. One day, Hyacinthus and Apollo were out flinging the old Frisbee around (or discus as we called it). Apollo yelled to Hyacinthus, “Goest thou deep”, and then he let the discus fly. Hyacinthus told Apollo, “Holdest my ale”, and ran to make a magnificent one-handed grab. But Zephyrus (who was jealous because he wasn’t invited to play), blew up a mighty wind and caused the discus to go off course. The discus struck Hyacinthus in the head and killed him right on the spot. Now Apollo was so upset that he made a little flower out of the spilled blood. I even heard that Apollo’s tears stained the newly formed flower’s petals. And that’s where you get your present day Hyacinth. If you want to take a little friendly advice from old Prometheus, don’t play Ultimate Frisbee on a windy day unless you invite all your friends.”

John: “Those definitely sound like words to live by. Thanks again for taking the time to share with us and I certainly hope we can continue our discussion in the future!”