The Leaflet
~ March 2022 ~
RCMGA members bundling tree orders for the Tennessee Environmental Council tree event
Bundled trees prepared and waiting for customers to pick up on Saturday
Latin Linguistics -
A Useful Tool in Horticulture
by Cindy Haynes, Department of Horticulture
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

One of the most frustrating aspects for new gardeners is the use of Latin in Scientific or Botanical plant names. Believe it or not, botanical names were created by Carl von Linne to make plant names easier. Before Linnaeus (Latinized version of Linne) created the binomial (bi = two and nom = name) system, each plant had several names.

The first part of the binomial system is the Genus (always capitalized). The second part is the specific epithet (always lowercase). Together, the genus and specific epithet make up a species or name of a plant. This system is similar to an individual's name. Our last name identifies us to a particular group (family) like Romer, Flynn, or Haynes. The Genera (plural for Genus) of Acer, Quercus, and Salvia do the same for plants. Our first name identifies us specifically as James, Paula, or Cindy as do the specific epithets rubrum, alba, or splendens for plants. Put these two words together and you have the name of a specific individual (James Romer, Paula Flynn, or Cindy Haynes) or plant species (Acer rubrum, Quercus alba, or Salvia splendens). The order of placement is the only difference between the two naming systems. The species names for plants are usually italicized or underlined. However, plants take it one step farther with the addition of the cultivar, or cultivated variety. Garden salvia or Salvia splendens is available in many colors. 'Salsa Scarlet' is a red-flowered cultivar while 'Salsa White' is a white-flowered cultivar. Cultivar names are usually in quotation marks and follow the specific epithet (Salvia splendens 'Salsa White').

Why do we prefer scientific/botanical names?
Why should we bother learning the botanical names of plants when the common names seem to work fine? The best reason for not using common names when referring to plants is that they are often more confusing than the botanical name. For example, several cultivars of Acer rubrum and Acer platanoides are commonly called red maple. There is a great difference between these two species and the only way you can be assured you are referring to the same red maple is to use the botanical name.

So when you go to the local garden center and ask for red maple you could get any one of over several hundred different types of trees. But, if you ask for Acer rubrum 'Red Sunset' you are selecting a truly superior maple with brilliant red fall color. You can also be assured that Acer rubrum 'Red Sunset' is the same plant in Iowa, Louisiana, Great Britain, or anywhere else in the world. Whereas, who knows what red maple means in Louisiana!

Latin was used as the language for scientific names because it is considered a "dead" language. This means no new words or slang are created or changed through the years. Once you know a little Latin, plant names can tell you a great deal about the plants themselves. The genus name is usually a noun. Acer is a maple, Mentha is a mint, etc. The species name is commonly an adjective describing that member of the genus. The species name can tell you the color of the flower (rubra means red), where it originates (japonica means Japan), its form or habit (pendula means weeping), etc. Sometimes the combination of two Latin words make up a specific epithet like grandi (meaning large) and flora (meaning flower). Therefore, Magnolia grandiflora is a large flowering Magnolia.

See how simple and useful learning Latin can be! Below is the meaning of some common Latin words that can help you know more about your plants.
Seed Stratification Notes
Following Becky Juanes' February Presention

  • Start seeds outdoors in miniature greenhouses made from plastic containers with lids, such as salad containers, milk jugs, etc.
  • Poke holes in the bottoms for drainage
  • The top needs to be clear
  • The container with lid should be deep enough for the seedlings to grow
  • Add soil, plant seeds, then water.
  • Put the lid on. Use duct tape if it’s not a tight fit.
  • Put container outside and forget about it until spring.
  • You’ve now created a mini greenhouse! Check on them so they don’t dry out or overheat.
  • For more info on this and other great articles visit

Perennial Plant Sale is Live Again in 2022
by Mariwyn Evans,
Perennial Plant Society
Once again, on Saturday, April 9, 2022, the Nashville Fairgrounds will be overflowing with hundreds of locally grown perennials and shrubs, thanks to the 30th annual Perennial Plant Society Plant Sale. The sale, which for the last two years has been conducted online, will open its doors to in-person shopping starting at 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Arrive by 8 a.m. for a good spot in line!
“We are so excited to welcome Middle Tennessee gardeners back to see, and smell, and buy all the amazing flowers and shrubs we have selected from our local growers,” says PPS Plant Acquisition’s Co-hair Mickey Newman. “Lots of our Perennial Plant Society members will be on hand to greet our loyal customers and offer advice on the best plants for their gardens.” A preliminary list of available plants will be available on the Perennial Plant website
This year’s sale will take place at the Fairground’s new Expo 3 building. The larger, light-filled space will give shoppers more room to see all the great plants. Bigger aisles will also allow customers to bring carts to carry more plants. The new layout also features a curbside concierge pick-up option for orders.
Profits from the sale fund horticultural scholarships at local colleges as well as PPS education programs, which are free to the public. Visit to learn more about upcoming in-person and Zoom meetings.
So, whether you’re longing for a old garden favorite or craving the latest exotic cultivar, you’ll find the best prices and the largest local selection at the April 9 Perennial Plant Society Sale. Admission is free; Metro charges $5 for parking.
Come Back and Smell the Flowers!

Background: The Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee promotes the use of perennial plants in the landscape and offers education to local gardeners and scholarships to area horticulture students. The annual plant sale is the group’s major source of funding for these activities. The group holds free monthly education meetings, which are open to the public. It also offers garden tours to members. For more information, visit
Artists' Corner
Many would argue that nature is perhaps the greatest work of art. In turn, much of the art created by humans is inspired by nature. Here, in the Artists' Corner, art from our talented Master Gardeners will be featured in future issues of The Leaflet. Maybe you're a talented sculptor or painter, or perhaps you doodled a graphite veggie harvest in the margin of your notebook while on a Zoom call. Maybe you created a colorful mosaic birdbath for your garden, or painted a mural on your garden fence. No matter the kind of nature-inspired art you've created, email a picture of it with a short description to [email protected] to be included in a future issue of The Leaflet.
The top and bottom views of the Green Veined Emporer butterfly (Charaxes candiope). They live in Africa and are considered the most aggressive butterflies in existence, known to actively dive-bomb people who intrude upon their territory.

Color drawing by Claudelle Lyall
The cerulean warbler (Setophaga cerulea) is a small, threatened species of songbird found in deciduous forests of eastern North America during breeding season before migrating to forested mountain areas in South America.

Pencil drawing by Stacey Haag
If you’re reading this and not yet a Robertson County Master Gardener, watch for information regarding our upcoming fall class.

If you’d like to recertify, please contact Robertson County Extension Agent Jeff Smith at 615-384-7936 to get started. We’d love to welcome you back!

Current members and interns, please remember to submit your 2022 membership dues. Please bring $20/person or $30/couple to our next meeting. If you’re unable to make the meeting, a check may be made out to Robertson County Master Gardener Association and mailed to: Larry Lee, Treasurer, 1098 Paradise Drive, Greenbrier, TN 37073.
Upcoming Events
Nashville Fairgrounds, Expo Center

April 23: Cheatham County MG Plant Sale
Ashland City, TN

Nashville Fairgrounds, Expo Center

April 30 - May 7: Tennessee Iris Festival
Dresden, TN
Contact Us
Karen House
(615) 419-5249
Vice President:
Shawn Herman
(615) 948-4376
Claudelle Lyall
(615) 760-6955
Larry Lee
New Member Coordinator:
Leanne Hazelwood
(615) 448-7593

Extension Agent:
Jeff Smith
(615) 384-7936

Instagram Administrator:
Jeannie Moll
(615) 752-6746
Julee Orr
(615) 838-5772
Facebook Administrators:
Ann Rausch
(615) 305-2598
Shawn Herman
(615) 948-4376
The Leaflet Editor:
Stacey Haag
(615) 389-4663
Robertson County Master Gardener Association