Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

June 9, 2016
How strong is your gardening vocabulary?

Before we get to our topic this week, there are a few things to take care of. First, there is the matter of an unfortunate photo placement in last week’s column. My bride Maggie wrote last week’s article about the upcoming Garden Tour that is on tap for this next weekend. While she wrote the column, I supplied the photos and suggested captions to my friends at the Transcript Bulletin.

As it turns out, I wasn’t as clear as I could have been, as I mentioned that Maggie was the author last week, and at the same time provided a photo of some really colorful flowers, a snapshot of Barbara Barlow (of Speirs Farm and one of the hosts for the Tour on Saturday), as well as a photo of Joy Bossi, gardening author and radio show host for KLO 1430 AM’s “Joy in the Garden.” It was this last photo that has caused me consternation.

Without going into needless detail, Joy’s photo ended up being displayed at the top of the column, with the caption, “Maggie Cooper, Correspondent.” Now, Joy is a very nice woman, and a fine-looking one at that! However, she is a few years ahead of Maggie. Maggie’s birthday was last week, and she’s a bit sensitive of her age these days. Imagine her surprise (and the ensuing, um, conversation) when she opened the paper. Let’s just say I’m glad we got that worked out, but I suspect it’ll come up again when she needs a negotiation chip the next time we see things differently.

Second, we are on the final week leading up to the Garden Tour. I don’t ask for favors often, but I’m unabashedly asking for your full support of this great event. Not only has it become, after 18 years, a valued community tradition, but it is getting noticed outside our valley as well. We expect to have a good influx of neighbors from along the Wasatch Front. This year’s Tour has been expanded to include Friday night’s Garden Tour Summer Blast, a free community event on June 10, from 6-9 p.m. at the historic Benson Gristmill. This free event features pony rides, petting zoo, food trucks, a wide variety of vendors, fire trucks, patrol units from the Utah Highway Patrol and Tooele County Sheriff’s Department, BLM Hotshot Unit with Smokey the Bear, Master Gardener Store, and a classic Cruzin’ the 435 car show.

I strongly recommend you come on Friday night to pick up your tour book ($7 per adult, children 12 and under free), so you can get started right away the next morning starting at 9 a.m. without having to go to a ticket location first.

Then, the Tour itself will be held Saturday, June 11 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. You can visit 11 fantastic locations in any order you’d like. There is a wide range of sizes and themes. If you don’t purchase your tour book the night before, it’s available the morning of the Tour at three different event ticket outlets. Take a look at the event advertisement elsewhere in this paper, or go to for the “low down.” This is a great event, and you won’t be disappointed.

Alright, let’s get to it. Just how strong is your gardening and horticultural vocabulary? One of the enjoyable facets of writing this column is the ongoing research and exposure to new gardening facts and terms. This is the first of a vocabulary builder that I’ll do with you a couple times a year. There is a very robust list of gardening terms, some common, some obscure, so there is plenty to work with.

I’ll bet that you know some of the terms below, but others are new, or you just aren’t certain of what the term means. Read on, and you’ll have nine new gardening terms you can use with confidence!

Etiolation — If you’ve ever had potatoes sprout in the dark and grow long, slender, pale green stems in their attempt to reach the light, you’ve seen etiolation firsthand. The stems of a light-deprived plant are smaller, and are chlorotic and pale due to lack of generation of chlorophyll. This bleached appearance can be desirable with some vegetables, such as asparagus and leeks.

Herbaceous — Nope, this doesn’t mean plants that are spices or herbs. Perennial herbaceous plants have a tender top that will not overwinter, but will die back to the ground, and then re-sprout the following spring from the root mass. To give you an example, many types of hibiscus are herbaceous.

Halophyte — This is not a fight among angels (that was a stretch!), but a salt-loving plant  that is tolerant to salty soils, such as along the seashore or in salt flats. Mangroves, salt-marsh grasses, and saltbushes are halophytes. Only a small percentage of plants are halophytes.

Cultivar — This term is actually the compression of the words “cultivated variety.” These are plant varieties that do not appear in nature on their own; they are cultivated by cross-breeding for desirable traits such as bloom color or size, and leaf shape or coloration. Most of the ornamental plants you buy at the nursery are cultivars.

Aggregate Flower — This term could be confusing as gravels and differing-sized small stones mixed together is commonly called an aggregate. The term is for a whole, formed by combining several elements. In this sense, it can be applied to flowers that from a moderate distance look to be a single larger bloom, but are actually made up of multitudes of smaller flowers bunched together. Some good examples are hydrangea, butterfly bush, and the pendants on wisteria and chokecherry.

Scion — Yes, it is one of the many car models that Toyota offers or what we call the offspring of the rich and famous. But, a scion is much more important for us that love plants. A scion is a young shoot of a plant, especially one cut for grafting or rooting. They are also commonly known as a cutting, slip, or graft.

Cambium — This is the very thin membrane underneath the inner bark of a tree or plant. Cambium produces phloem (pronounced “flow-um”) towards the outside and xylem (“zy-lem”) on the inside in trunks, stems, and roots.  An interesting side-note and memory cue is that xylem transports water and dissolved nutrients up from the roots to the leaves — toward the sky — which rhymes with the first syllable of xylem. Xylem is also responsible for the majority of the bulk of the trunk or stems. In trees, it forms rings. Phloem transports nutrients from the leaves down to the roots and provides nourishment for plant growth. The memory cue here is the nutrients “flow” down the phloem from the top of the plant or tree.

Dioecious — First, let’s get the pronunciation right. Essentially drop the “o” and you’ll be close — “die-ee-shus.” Plants that are sexually distinct are dioecious. There are male and female plants and the pollen from male plants must be brought to the female plants for germination to occur. This is in contrast to monoecious plants, where both the male and female reproductive structures are on the same plant. Corn or maize is a great example. The tassel is above and produces pollen, the silks facilitate germination — but both are on the same plant.

Remontant — The ability of a plant to flower more than once during a growing season. The term is most commonly used pertaining to roses. Remontancy is desirable to most rose enthusiasts, contrasted with roses that will only bloom once in a season.

Well, there you have it, nine great horticultural terms that are sure to give you more gardening credibility, or at least give you the upper hand in your next Scrabble game.

Oh, by the way — I’ll have another good laugh with the photo swap between Maggie and Joy. You see, Joy will be in Erda next weekend from 8-10 a.m., hosting her “Joy in the Garden” radio show. It will be a live Garden Tour radio broadcast at the Tooele Valley Nursery. I’ll make sure that Joy gets to see last week’s column. We’ll all have a good laugh — I hope!

Jay Cooper can be contacted at, or you can visit for videos on gardening, shop skills, culinary arts and landscaping.

Jay Cooper

Garden Spot Columnist at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Jay Cooper is a new contributing writer for the Garden Spot column. He replaced Diane Sagers, who retired in November 2013 after writing the column for 27 years. Also known as Dirt Farmer Jay, Cooper and his wife have been residents of Erda since 2001 after moving to Utah from Tucson, AZ. A passionate gardener and avid reader of horticultural topics, for several years he has been a member of Utah State University’s Master Gardeners Program, and served as chapter president in 2013. Cooper says Tooele County has an active and vibrant gardening community, and the Garden Spot column will continue to share a wide range of gardening, landscaping, home skills and rural living themes.

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