It was quite easy to test this theory; we simply asked friends who are not plant geeks what they thought ___ (insert any number of plant words here) meant. Some of the responses were surprising and all of them were eye-opening. Our student worker thought I was trying to pull some sort of hippie joke on him when I told him to "deadhead" some flowers. An acquaintance figured that if a shrub "suckers" it probably has a parasite. A "specimen planting" was thought to be something for scientific experiments. (Actual meanings: deadhead is removing old flowers, suckers are new shoots coming up from the base or roots of a plant, and a specimen is a plant with striking features placed apart from others so that its unique beauty can be enjoyed.)
Here's a short list of some of the jargon words we're going to try to phase out of our vocabulary or properly explain when speaking or writing to the general public so that 100% of us can understand.
- Specimen planting
- Foundation planting
- Sepals, bracts, petioles, panicles, stolons, etc.
Are there more that you can think of? Send them our way. We want to do a better job. It would be such a shame if we are scaring away potential gardeners by all the fancy-sounding horticultural terms. Plants are fun! Most of them are easy to grow! There will always be ways to dive deeper and learn more about specific plants, but when recommending certain ones and describing their care, there's no need for confusion.