Millions of people all over the earth pacify angry females with one universally accepted remedy: flowers. I can vouch for the effectiveness of such activity as I am frequently defeated in domestic battles and the only way of acknowledging the rout is to arrive home laden with a large bouquet of blooms.

My family has held and continues to hold nature in great esteem and has been rewarded in turn by being blessed with green thumbs. Our passion for growing plants and trees infects both young and old to an extent that family friends now do an inventory check of their floral assets after a visit from members of my clan.

Our ‘floramania’ often has interesting side effects, which includes strange musings. Take for example yesterday, when releasing ‘lady birds’ on my apple trees so that they could feast on the Green Aphid infestation, I began to wonder why these beneficent members of the beetle family were called ‘lady’ birds at all. One thing led to another and I ended up with a notion that made me sit up in awe - flora and the fairer sex had a ‘mystical’ connection.

It all begins I suppose, when one is bitten by the ‘love bug.’ This can be verified by loitering around flower shops in Lahore, Karachi or the Twin Cities on a certain day in February, to observe the throng of males who appear oblivious of the fact that they are being ‘skinned’ to the bone by florists. I once accompanied a friend to one of these markets in the Federal Capital and found that he had bought a bouquet of a dozen long stemmed red roses, where each bloom represented a year of marriage. As we were driving back, I impishly asked the young man if he had given a thought to the future, when even after having crossed the four decade line, he would have no choice but to keep up with the precedence of a ‘bloom a year.’

A look at flower names will indicate that a large number of this genus has feminine names. For example a mini variety of climbing rose is known as Lady Banksia, while a ground cover carries the botanical name Veronica (Umbrosa). You get a ‘two for one’ deal in the case of Heather; a member of the Erica family. I once knew a schoolmate called Daphne, but all I remember now is that ‘Daphne’ is a shrub that grows in cool climate and produces flowers hallmarked by beautiful aromas. Holly is associated with Christmas as its sprigs are used as festive decorations. Black Eyed Susan is a yellow flower with a black center, which the CDA once planted along a major F-10 road, (but then forgot of its existence). A flowering climber from the Thunbergia family also goes by the same wistful name and has adorned my verandah for many a season. Creeping ‘Jenny’ is not a character from a horror flick, but a reflection of how this ground cover proliferates, and last but hardly the least, had it not been for the roses, violets, daisies and hyacinths, my garden would have been most incomplete and bare.

Lest I be accused of a bias in favor of western names, my house and that of my neighbor is resplendent with white and yellow jasmine or Chambeli, while my better half’s favorite cut flower is the Nargis. I could actually go on and on with the list of names, were it not for a question (much like the proverbial chicken and egg debate) that is pestering me since I began writing this piece. Were floral species named after members of the fairer sex or did all the Susans, Roses, Daphnes, Jasmines and Nargis acquire their names from the plant family? I am sending this column for publication in the hope that some savvy reader will rise to the occasion and provide me with the answer.

The writer is a historian.