Silver Dormouse

The Tale of Silver Dormouse

In England there is a breeder who longed to name a new cultivar after his wife.  She on the other hand was adamantly opposed to the public use of her given name.  They have been married for more than forty years and live in a modest country cottage where they often entertain friends and colleagues who share their interest in horticulture.  During these evening socials a simple dinner might be served, to the accompaniment of friendly conversation, followed by tea, and a stroll through the garden.  

The lady of the house has a propensity for dozing off before tea and cakes can be served.  By this I mean that she politely and quietly falls asleep at the dinner table.  These catnaps became so predictable that her husband affectionately began addressing her by the sobriquet of “Dormouse”. A dormouse is a slip of a mouse that causes mischief in English pantries.  Finding their way through kettle spouts, these tiny mice are often discovered sleeping at the bottom of empty English teapots, and as such, have been depicted as endearing characters in such well known classics as the stories of Beatrix Potter. 

When in 1998 the breeder discovered a remarkable compact variety of Brachyglottis greyii, he also found the opportunity to claim his long desired wish.  The silver-gray shrub with soft, felted oval leaves, resembling the ears of a mouse, inspired him to name the new cultivar  ‘Silver Dormouse’.  Rumor tells that his ladyship is delighted with her husband’s choice of cultivar names, and that they are living happily ever after in the United Kingdom.