Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Myrtle is a delightful new shop in L.A.'s Echo Park neighborhood, run by Whitney Bickers, which is stocked solely by independent female designers! How about that? Designers from MCMC fragrances to Shabd to Fieldguided to Dusen Dusen (first image) to Filly (second image) fill the shop, which looks so cozy with it's rosy hues and vintage touches. The shop's accompanying blog is also full of pretties, and here is why Whitney chose the name Myrtle.  I can't help but look at Myrtle now and see a name just as stylish, laid back and beautiful as this shop and the goods it caries. 

-- images: all courtesy of Myrtle. first row by Kate Miss, store shots by Jennifer Parry Dodge of Ermie

When I was laboring with Valo June, there were several natural elements that welcomed my focus throughout much of the labor: namely the sunlight on my ivory bedroom walls and a beautiful crape myrtle tree outside my window-- the wind was blowing and it was practically snowing it's white blooms. We were in hot pursuit of an -o ending name, and Valo 'light' was perfectly appropriate to the setting in which our baby  met the earth, but we didn't even consider Myrtle.  

Since growing into a more bonafide name lover, I've often found myself asking why Myrtle wasn't given a better look by us, even if it ultimately went unchosen.  Given my penchant for words that end in -le, and my unwavering love of the word/name Myrrh (not to mention my adoration of "old lady" names), Myrtle seems like a combination of sounds that would really light a spark with me and so many others. At the time, though, I just couldn't hear it's natural melody for some of it's previous associations.

Well, in just shy of two years, my ears have seen the light. heard the light. heard the music of Myrtle, and after meeting Whitney's shop, my associations have been beautifully rewritten.  If you, too, are ready to shake any old, unsavory associations with what is really a beautifully melodic word chock-full of positive meaning, head on over to Myrtle's blog to free your mind. 

Myrtle  -- a nature name, names the evergreen shrub and the crepe myrtle tree, among other plants.

Myrtice or Myrtia -- variants of Myrtle.

Mercia -- is an ancient Roman deity connected to the myrtle plant, also known as 'Venus of the myrtle', with versions Murtia and Murtea, as well. Christian scholars later interpreted her as the goddess of sloth and laziness, but this is thought to be very inaccurate, so don't let it deter you if you love it!  Mercy makes a nice nickname, as well as a nice name on it's own.

Myrrh -- (or Myr)  my favorite nickname option for Myrtle, and a fantastic stand alone choice for a name.  a nature name within a nature name!

Tilly -- she could also go by 'Tilly', should you want to honor a relative, Myrtle, but aren't so pleased with  her name-- I do hope you'll come around, though.

In addition, being that there are so many different types of myrtle plants, there are several good smoosh potentials here for middle names, whether you smoosh them or hyphenate is up to you, of course:




Bayberry -- another name for one type of myrtle plant.

Sweet-Gale -- yet another name for the previously mentioned plant, and a fresh way to spice up Gale/Gail for any of us with familial ties we'd like to honor.  I rather like Ada Sweet-Gale (AHH-dah). Remember, the middle name's greatest attribute (and biggest shame) is that it doesn't usually see any use, so be adventuresome if it pleases you!

If you need reasons beyond the wonders of nature to get behind Myrtle, there's no shortage of human namesakes: a Hawaiian princess, a baroness, and plenty of literary references, as well.

Ultimately, many may still have too many "old lady" associations with the name, but like all generational associations, these too shall pass. And they will pass ever more quickly in an age where things are put out to pasture and then revived as cool relics quicker than ever before.

Do you have trouble hearing the purer sounds of names, free of any past associations with them? How easy is it to change your associations? Is it a matter of simply replacing them with new ones, or does challenging them on a philosophical level ("Aunt Ethel was awesome, why shouldn't I?") work for you?  Have you been to the shop? Don't you love the female designer theme it's got going on?!

I think as people are more and more inclined to seek meaning in the names they select, Myrtle will be picked up for it's beauty and nature associations, and perhaps for it's sentimental ties to a bygone era full of people we've loved. Yes, that's right, maybe even for it's ties to the "old ladies" who taught us to sew, jar pickles, and make perfect biscuits.    

The old ladies are alright!


  1. I love the name Myrtle -- but I fear she's been badly tarnished by J.K. Rowling's "Moaning Myrtle." Which is a massive shame. It will take some glamorous celeb to pop up with the name, or use it for their daughter, to shake the morose ghost off :(.

  2. I love the name Myrtle as well, but can't shake the Myrtle Beach association.

  3. I think Myrtle and Mercy are lovely. I've always liked Myrna as well. That opening Myr- just sort of purrs on the tongue. I have friends who wanted to honor a Grandma Myrtle when naming their daughter, but couldn't really get past the "old lady" associations. They ended up naming the little one Hadassah, which means "myrtle tree" in Hebrew.

  4. Now I'm finding myself reconsidering Myrtle! I think she'd pair well in a double name for those who find her too old lady. Something light and whimsical like Ella Myrtle or Lula Myrtle?

    I adore the shoes in the last picture.