PITH and VIGOR: What is in a name? How it came to be.

June 22, 2024

It is a constant question – Did you mean to say piss and vinegar? or maybe piss and vigor? or what is that saying? No – I meant to say PITH + VIGOR. When I set out to name the original print publication that started this blog, I was thinking of words (I have a wadded-up list in my pocket for weeks, where I added new ideas as they popped into my head). They were all plant and garden-related words that might have had a double entendre or that I thought sounded cool or historic or somehow meaningful.

Then I decided I wanted the title to be something and something … so I started mixing and matching all those lists of words, and that is how a title was born.

1 Cover of PITH + VIGOR newspaper
The cover of the first print issue of PITH + VIGOR. Originally this was a newspaper, published and shipped to subscribers from 2014-2016. But it has since become an exclusively online resource for garden makers.

What is in a name (PITH and VIGOR)?

Metaphorically, I’m drawn to the idea of the pith of a plant. It is the heart.
And vigor is one of those words that I find fun to say — everything about it is lively and spirited.

So when I discovered that these two words were once commonly used together (way back in the 1700s), it was a bit of a serendipitous moment.

The old term, ‘pith and vigor,’ is thought to be the etymological root of the saying “piss and vinegar”. Where with the later, we mean that something is a bit of a firecracker, pith and vigor meant something a little different.

The pith, being the central cylinder of the stem, is the essential heart of a flowering plant. It is a source of strength, vitality, and vigor. You can’t logically have the latter without the former.

But if you did have vigor without pith (as the original was perceived to mean), it would be like strength, without fear or concern.

So what does PITH + VIGOR mean to me (and maybe to you the reader)?

It is a sassy sort of can-do attitude that emanates from every gardener I know.

P+V is the grit, grace, and elegance that lies deep in every landscape and the wisdom of the people who tend and manipulate them.

It is getting your hands dirty and being part of a movement that is spirited and beautiful.

It is believing that nothing can stop you.



Dive into the PITH + VIGOR universe:

REgister now!

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