The Leaflet

~ October 2022 ~

Gardeners Know All the Dirt

What kind of year did you have, garden-wise? Any successes? Failures? Anybody want a do-over? This year, with the help of Kevin Moll, my husband was able to install a drip irrigation system. My plants are very happy. It’s amazing how big they can get with consistent watering. I also tried some trumpet plants, in both purple and yellow. I’ve got to say, they are quickly becoming some of my favorites in the garden. I’ve also had a few failures; namely all things vegetable. I think I’ll just start supporting my local farmers market.

With the year coming to a close, be sure to look back at the successes you’ve had with the RCMGA: information on plants you didn’t know, garden tours, plant sales, community events where we shared our knowledge, and the installation of gardens to benefit our neighbors. It’s been a great year with lots of firsts and still more to come. Don’t let the one failure of not logging your hours negate all that you’ve achieved. Remember, interns need 40 volunteer hours and 8 CEUs. Current members need 25 and 8 respectively. Reach out if you need any assistance. 

May all your weeds be wildflowers,

Karen House, President



October 27, 2022

7:00 p.m.

(Social time:

6:30-7:00 p.m.)

Highland Rim Research and EduCenter



Growing Mushrooms


Rich Latane


 The Robertson County Master Gardener Association meets the fourth Thursday of every month

A Day at the Fall Gardeners’ Festival in Crossville

By Dawn Chen

August 30 couldn’t have been a better day to be at the Fall Gardeners’ Festival in Crossville, TN. It was a little over a month since the Summer Celebration in Jackson, TN. With the memorable experience at the Summer Celebration, I was eager to attend. When fellow Master Gardener Becky offered the car ride, I was the first to sign up.

The Festival took place on the site of University of Tenneessee’s Plateau AgResearch and Education Center, two hours of drive east of Nashville. This event was similar to the Summer Celebration we went to in Jackson, TN; however, there were a few different lectures worth exploring, plus the gardens to tour.

Becky, Kathy, Janice and I carpooled. On the previous day, it rained heavily in our area. When we departed early in the morning, thick clouds were still dark from the night’s downpour and the rain was still in the forecast.

By 8:30 a.m. we arrived at the site. Dark clouds dispersed fast. Soon, the blue sky cracked through and the sun smiled broadly at us. It turned out to be a sunny day, but not hot. We cheered and parked the car in the field at the direction of the festival volunteers. The shuttle took us to the registration booth. Everything was well organized. We received the program schedule together with a bunch of seed packs including UT Institute of Agriculture’s own blend of butterfly garden mix, a timely gift for fall and winter sowing.

The layout of the festival ground was similar to the Summer Celebration. There were four big tents marked “A” “B” “C” and “D” scattered in a half-circle within 100 yards of one another. They served as “lecture halls”. The plant sale tent was in the center, equidistant to lecture tents, which was convenient for us to walk in and out during the intermission of lectures. The plant sale was also an attraction. A few local vendors brought a variety of plants, but I had to say the quantity and selection were not a match to that of the Summer Celebration.

The lectures were what we were here for. Each tent programmed three different topics and the lectures rotated from 9 o”clock in the morning till 2 in the afternoon so if one missed, there was a chance to catch up at a later hour. Almost all the seats were taken in the tent. The attendance was quite high, thanks to the pleasant weather, and most of all, to the informative topics and wonderful speakers.

Here is a list of topics on that day:

Edible Landscaping

Bearded Iris & Pineapple Lilies

Rain Gardening for Tennessee Smart Yards

Conifers for Today’s Gardens

Managing Fruit and Tree diseases

Landscape Mistakes

Fall Lawn Care Tasks

Best Practices for Woody Ornamentals/Trees

Bountiful Backyard Berries

Pollinators in the Garden

Groundcovers: How Low Can You Go

Appalachian Natives and Folklore

We all went to the last talk “Appalachian Natives and Folklore” for its entertaining value. Speaker Melody Rose was a Tennessee native. She grew up hearing many tales about plants’ healing power and poisoning properties, as well as the legends and beliefs in the Appalachian regions. One amusing tale was the stingy Jack and Jack O’Lanterns. We could bring the story to our grand children as Halloween approaches.

Another topic that captured all four of us was the Edible Garden Success. This was a different speaker from the one we had at the Summer Celebration. Presenter Holly Jones not only shared her rich knowledge of growing vegetables, but also brought sample edible plants from which she made a flower arrangement.   That was very cool. One of many tips she gave was to start from easy-to-grow plants like turmeric roots, goji berries, Jerusalem artichokes and hardy kiwi. They are on my wish list now.

I enjoyed the opportunity of a one-on-one moment with the presenters who answered my questions. Their talks were all practical advice on home gardening. They were free! If you haven’t been to the festivals and are keen in learning, perhaps as a group, we can request online access to the lectures.  I was told the Center offers regular lectures on gardening.

One would miss the gem without the tractor ride and garden tour. Off we went. Hopping on the tractor, sitting high, a panoramic view of the grounds of the Plateau Ag Research Center displayed right in front of us. The vast land was surrounded by shade trees. Dotted around were tall grasses, flower trees, compost heaps, and patches of test fields for roses, veggies and pumpkins. Agricultural labs were nearby. At the end of tour we saw rolls of cattle barns. The tour guide was a young guy with booming voice. He said the land was granted in 1947, almost a century old. Over the years, the hardworking UT people have built it from a woodland to today’s scale. It still has room to grow. To the local community, the Center is known for cultivating interesting pumpkin varieties.

We kept the best to the last – touring the gardens. I have wanted to visit the Plateau Discovery Gardens in Crossville since I moved to Tennessee. Now the place has grown as part of the state Botanic Garden of Tennessee with several demo gardens including one designed and maintained by the Cumberland County Master Gardeners (CCMG).

The CCMG garden is consisted of several sections that encompass seasons - spring, summer, fall, winter and sensory as well as bulb and butterfly garden. Each section is featured by plants suited the area. The sensory garden was devoted to herbs and culinary plants. The CCMG garden was quite impressive. I later learned that it started in 2005, almost 20 years in the making.

One distinctive characteristic was that each Master Gardener class had a dedicated area for its practice. The first graduated class planted shrubs that grow well in the mountain plateau; the next year’s class voted to show what perennial plants would thrive, then came a bulb garden, a home landscape demonstration plot, lawn seed plot, etc.. The CCMG garden is an inspiring example for gardeners.

The day passed in a blink. We left with lecture notes to digest, sweet memories of people and gardens. We brought home many pictures of the festival. Among them were shots of the decorative cows created from bales of hay. They were named after plants like Iris, Lily and Petunia. My only regret was that I didn’t buy plants…

Frederick Law Olmsted: America’s Father of Landscape Architecture

by Nola Hastings

I’ve been enamored with Frederick Law Olmsted since my California book club read Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City. Now, bear with me… this story was about HH Holmes, a serial killer who took advantage of the crowds gathering in Chicago for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. As Larson describes the buildings and landscapes of the Exposition, I have my first introduction to Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), known as the founder of American landscape architecture.

Olmsted was a wanderer, traveling many times to Europe where he realized the importance of public parks and concluded that park access should be a right of all Americans. It was during these visits he gathered most of his ideas for democratic parks and in 1857, Olmsted seized an opportunity to realize his vision of “parks for the people” when he and architect Calvert Vaux won a design competition to create New York’s Central Park.

By the time Chicago was chosen to host the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Olmsted’s reputation was well-established, and he was busy on numerous other projects, including the grounds of the Biltmore Estate. With a team of architects, Olmsted agreed to oversee design of the Exposition’s landscape in Jackson Park on the shores of Lake Michigan. One of his principal features was the Wooded Island, 16 acres in the center of the fairgrounds, envisioned to be an “oasis of calm” for fair goers.

Although the Fair was meant to be temporary, the park Olmsted designed would remain for Chicagoans to enjoy. I wondered if the spirit of Olmsted could be felt in the existing landscape. I wanted to visit Jackson Park! As luck would have it, the Art Institute of Chicago is housed in one of the two remaining permanent structures from the Exposition (although not in Jackson Park). So, in September I arranged a trip to Chicago for my husband’s birthday where we would spend a day visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, and another day in Jackson Park.

The wooded island was the centerpiece of the Fair’s landscape and is indeed, still a tranquil space in which one can stroll in the beauty and quiet of this natural landscape. Olmsted’s desire was for his design to subtly direct movement through the landscape and on the wooded island, with its curving paths, a design element he often employed, you are led without realizing you’re being led.

As a result of Olmsted’s work, landscape architecture gained recognition as an art. If you’re interested in reading more about the work of Frederick Law Olmsted and the continued importance of his legacy, visit the Olmsted200 website. I also highly recommend reading Genius of Place, the Life of Frederick Law Olmsted by Justin Martin. To travel in time, click here to view a three-dimensional recreation by UCLA of the 1893 Exposition. 

Profiles in Gardening...

Lisa Ann Lawrence Majors

Why did you become a Master Gardener?

It is a proven fact that spending time outdoors with some physical activity is linked to a longer, happier life. Gardening has always been something I've thoroughly enjoyed since my youth. I wanted to not only enjoy it, but also be good at it… so I decided to train to become a Master Gardener.

What types of gardening are you most interested in?

There is not a form of gardening that I do not enjoy. I become giddy watching seedlings grow. There is nothing more accomplishing to me than standing next to sunflowers towering over my head on strong triumphant stalks. When I can perhaps no longer garden, I hope that I can live near someone who does.

What are some of your favorite plants?

I adore houseplants. However, trees are my passion. All of the trees in my yard are bestowed a name. My kids think I’m nuts, but my trees are just that... individuals.

What is your favorite thing about Master Gardeners, so far?

I feel it has made me a better steward for Earth. Each person can take responsibility for their personal environment -- building upon their spot on Earth. I know becoming a Master Gardener has helped me foster better habits and, in turn, become a better gardener. Impacting my space on Earth in a good way -- I’m all for it.

What other hobbies or interests do you have?

I love animals and have several rescued deaf/blind Great Danes. I am also a librarian, so I am a book nerd.

Where, other than Robertson County, have you lived & gardened?

As a child, I moved often. My father worked for NASA and we moved from Georgia to Alabama, and then to Texas. In my teens, we lived in Kentucky and then settled in Tennessee. In all of those places, we always had a small garden.

How did you first become interested in gardening?

My Nana didn’t give me toys to play with. She gave me veggies from the garden and mud. She set up a little wooden kitchen using an old box, a few utensils and I would play all day. I made tomato mud pies, radish mud pies, and some cucumber mud pies. Yes, I tried them- once. I spent days in her garden, hoeing and weeding. She taught me basic gardening skills and helped me develop a love for growing your own food. She would pick up dirt and say, "Smell that? That’s a gift, and don’t you ever forget it. That’s where we get our food from."

What are two interesting things about you that we don’t know?

I am a quiet person by nature. I love reading and my most favorite book to read is the Bible. I find it fascinating and very informative, not to mention it gives insight into the first garden.

Thank you to everyone who helped design, install, and run our booth at the Robertson County Fair. Our booth won 2nd Place! We saw thousands of fair-goers, many of whom stopped to see what RCMGA is all about, ask questions, and take home some seeds!

November meeting... Due to Thanksgiving, we will not meet on the fourth Thursday in November. Instead, we will meet in the pavilion at Ridgetop Arboretum at 12:00 PM on Saturday, November 5. Please bring a picnic lunch to enjoy before hearing from an arborist and touring the grounds to see the work that has been done in the garden and arboretum this summer. The arboretum is located at 1954 Woodruff Ave, Ridgetop, TN 37073.

Would you like to host our annual Christmas party? We are currently looking for a space in which to welcome our Master Gardeners for a fun evening of food and fellowship in December. If you would like to serve as this year's host/hostess, please contact President Karen House.

The election of officers for the 2023 year is fast approaching. If you are interested in serving as an officer next year or nominating a current member, please submit your nomination to one of our current officers.

Don't forget... to log your volunteer and educational hours at Attending a regular monthly meeting earns 1 volunteer hour plus 1 CEU for the presented program. Online classes and videos also count as educational hours.

Upcoming Events

November 5: Picnic Lunch & Arboretum Tour

Ridgetop Station Park & Arboretum

November 12: Poinsettia Open House

South Central Growers

Contact Us
Karen House
(615) 419-5249
Vice President:
Shawn Herman
(615) 948-4376
Claudelle Lyall
(615) 760-6955
Larry Lee
Extension Agent:
Jeff Smith
(615) 384-7936

Instagram Administrator:

Jeannie Moll

(615) 752-6746

[email protected]



Julee Orr

(615) 838-5772

[email protected]


Facebook Administrators:

Shawn Herman

(615) 948-4376

[email protected]


The Leaflet Editor:

Stacey Haag

(615) 389-4663

[email protected]

Robertson County Master Gardener Association
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