It’s a wonder how plants get their name. So many of the plants that came into their own during the Elizabethan era, when Shakespeare and his romantic soliloquies ruled the cultural attitudes of the day, seem to have names that speak of longing and lost love. Lord and lady’s, heartsease, sweet William, maidenhair fern and lady’s slipper conjure up epic tales of knights, damsels in distress, honor, valor and heartbreak.
The names for many of these plants take a cue from a physical trait which was then adapted to express an earnest human emotion. With love-in-a-mist, we can only presume that ‘love’ is the delicate blue flower and ‘mist’ is the lacy shroud of tendril-like bracts that surround it. The resulting name speaks of the nostalgic love that glimmers in the mists of memory.
We don’t know who Miss Jekyll was, but she gave her name to the single cultivar of love-in-a-mist that has been passed down since this time. Perhaps she was the object of a scandalous interlude in the life a plant breeder. We may never know, but we enjoy the masses of dreamy flowers that she brings to the garden in June each year.