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Yesterday we looked at Dolores Umbridge, a character in the Harry Potter books, and we defined the word umbrage. But the definition did match the woman's character. So too, 'Dolores' means 'sorrows', the Dolores character is not sad in temperament. Why then did author Rowling choose that name for her character?

The mystery is solved when we note that umbrage has another meaning, which is very apt for the woman, and which brings us to our new theme: 'words of horticulture'.

umbrage (adj. umbrageous) – shadow or shade; or something that provides it (also, a vague indication, a hint)
[from the Latin for shade. The same source gives us our term umbrella, which originally meant a sunshade, not a rain-protection.]

So one could say that Dolores Umbridge means "sorrowful darkness". And indeed, this woman is "sadly in the dark" about major, life-threatening events.
    A raven sat upon a tree,
    And not a word he spoke, for
    His beak contained a piece of Brie.
    Or, maybe, it was Roquefort:
    Well make it any kind you please --
    At all events it was a cheese.

    Beneath the tree's umbrageous limb
    A hungry fox sat smiling;
    He saw the raven watching him,
    And spoke in words beguiling.
    "J'admire," said he, "ton beau plumage."
    (The which was simply persiflage.)
    – Guy Wetmore Carryl, The Sycophantic Fox and the Gullible Raven
    (We quoted this verse in March 2003 for the word persiflage.)
 
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Would it be safe to predict that a topic named "Hortiulture Words" might get nipped in the bud ?

Can you identify a dogwood tree by its bark ?
 
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sprigging – planting sprigs of grass in shallow furrows, to make a lawn
[This word is not yet in any major dictionary, but is in reasonably frequent use.]

You can make a lawn by laying sod, by seeding, or by plugging. Sodding (basically moving an existing lawn to a new location) is fast but expensive. Seeding is cheap but take time and continued effort; furthermore, some hybrid grasses do not grow "true" from seed. A compromise is to plant plugs of grass at intervals, and letting them knit together over time. Or you can plant smaller sprigs – which produces a lawn faster than does plugging.
    The Grove Hill Town Council agreed Monday night to kick in an extra $6,200 to ensure that the new ballfield at Hudson Park will be fully sodded and not sprigged.
    – Jim Cox, Grove Hill Council kicks in extra $6,200 to sod ballfield, avoid sprigging grass for surface, The Thomasville (AL) Times, Apr. 7, 2004
 
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es·pal·ier ( P )
n. A tree or shrub that is trained to grow in a flat plane against a wall, often in a symmetrical pattern.

n : a trellis or other framework on which an ornamental shrub or fruit tree is trained to grow flat

[French, from Italian spalliera, shoulder support, from spalla, shoulder, from Late Latin spatula, shoulder blade, from Latin.]

Nice photo at http://www.jefffettyironwork.com/portfolio/galleries/sculpture%20out/espalier.htm

Wordcrafter's edit: 'espalier' is pronounced either i-SPAL-yer or i-SPAL-yay.

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Yes, we were at the Chicago Botanic Garden this weekend and saw some "espaliers" in their vegetable garden. Apparently the practical reason is to be able to grow more fruit in a limited space, though they are pretty, too.
 
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Apparently the practical reason is to be able to grow more fruit in a limited space, though they are pretty, too.

Plus, trees trained in this way against a south-facing wall will get extra benefit from the reflected sunshine.


Richard English
 
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Yes, we were at the Chicago Botanic Garden this weekend and saw some "espaliers" in their vegetable garden.
Yes -- and interestingly, some were not against a wall. They had been placed in a line very close together (about a foot and a half apart), and trained to grow vertically, without spreading. I'll try to find some pictures.
 
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allelopathy – the release, by a plant, of chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants nearby
[Coined 1937, in German, by Molisch; came into English two decades later]

Researchers are studying allelopathy as an alternative to pesticides. Strongly-allelopathic plants include the black walnut, rhododendron, sunflower and sorghum. A more familiar example, known to anyone has casually observed pine trees, is that very little will grows where pines have shed their needles.
    Pine needles contain acidic substances that discourage growth of other species. This is evident when pine needles are allowed to accumulate on the soil surface. In some areas, pine needles are sold for mulch. … growth of weedy species is reduced in mulched beds.
    – Wendell Horne, Allelopathy ensures plants’ survival, Bryan Eagle (Texas), July 30, 2004

    "Crops have been bred and engineered to defend against insects, nematodes, and diseases," says [researcher] Stephen Duke. "But almost nothing has been done to help crops fend off weeds. If major crops could be made to produce natural herbicides, use of synthetic pesticides would be significantly reduced." … the ultimate goal: introducing allelopathic traits to crops. "Allelopathy as a means of weed control has fascinated scientists since the early 20th century," he says.
    – Luis Pons, Sorghum needs its space, too: how it guards itself may be key in crops' battle against weeds, Agricultural Research, May, 2005 (edited)
Bonus word: Espalier is a certain method of training plant-growth. On our board, one of our members defined it very well, and I refer you to her post here here and to the post that follow.
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
allelopathy – the release, by a plant, of chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants nearby
[Coined 1937, in German, by Molisch; came into English two decades later]....Sorghum needs its space, too: how it guards itself may be key in crops' battle against weeds, Agricultural Research, May, 2005 (edited)[/LIST]Bonus word: Espalier is a certain method of training plant-growth. On our board, one of our members defined it very well, and I refer you to her post here here and to the post that follow.


RE: Interestingly, I have heard the word [b]alleopathic[\b] used in conversation (with Stanley Fish) metaphorically to describe people who are so destructive that they inhibit the development of the people around them. This is, needless to say, not conversation for the faint of heart, but then no discussion with Fish ever was Smile.

RE: [b]Espaliers[\b], some posters mentioned those at the Chicago Botanical Garden. We took the tram tour, and the guide told us that their place of origin is medieval castles in which there was a need to grow fruit which would (a) be near the castle walls and thus easier to defend from poachers, (b) ripen more quickly than does fruit grown on trees, and (c) save space. I have been to many medieval castles but have not noticed this feature; perhaps it has not been preserved. I intend to investigate on my next European tour, however.

Beth J
 
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tilth – the physical condition of particular soil (less commonly: tilled ground)
Our first two quotes illustrate the two senses; our last explains what is involved in "physical condition".
    Many growers also practice flail chopping, in which the straw residue in the field is machine chopped and … plowed into the soil for improved tilth.
    – Omie Drawhorn, Silverton (OR) Appeal Tribune, Aug. 17, 2005

    Life progressed at the pace of a cart-horse in those days …. A man could plough an acre a day, walking eleven miles, one foot in furrow, one on tilth. You could tell a ploughman, apparently, by his wobbly gait.
    – Sue Gaisford, The Independent (London), May 26, 1996

    Sand hardly binds at all; clay binds so strongly that it's close to impenetrable when dry. In contrast, soil with good tilth holds together but still leaves plenty of "pore space" that permits water, air, [and] roots to travel with ease. [It] hangs on to moisture and nutrients, yet it lets excess water drain through it, preventing waterlogged conditions and allowing adequate space for soil air. It doesn't pack into hardpan when wet, and it doesn't blow away when dry. You can squeeze a handful into a ball, but when you open your hand, the ball crumbles without difficulty.
    – Burpee (Guide): The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener (quote abridged)
 
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The North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) says "espaliering started in the medieval cloisters of central Europe."

Tinman
 
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cultivar – a plant variety produced in cultivation by selective breeding (the selection may be unintentional)
Bonus word: monoculture – the cultivation of only a single crop in a particular area

Our examples, which tell tales of marijuana, potatoes and tulips, come from Michael Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (edited).
    Most of the hybridizing needed to adapt cannabis to indoor conditions was done in the early 1980s by amateurs. Cultivars [that] performed especially well indoors were further bred and selected. By the end of the decade there were hybrids yielding flowers bag as fists on dwarf plants no higher than your knee. It was no longer unusual to find concentrations of THC as high as 15 percent. The plant had adapted more brilliantly to its strange new environment than anyone could have expected.

    … a potato that thrives on one side of a ridge at one altitude will languish in another plot only a few steps away. No monoculture could succeed under such circumstances, so the Incas developed a method of farming that is monoculture's exact opposite. Instead of betting the farm on a single cultivar, the Andean farmer made a great many bets, at least one for every ecological niche. Instead of attempting to change the environment to suit a single optimal spud, the Incas developed a different spud for every environment.

    It's no surprise that the tulip was the first flower to have its cultivars individually named – and named for individuals. (The word tulip comes from the Turkish word for "turban.")
 
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Who can predict what might happen when a State Nurses Association takes great interest in a cultivar?
 
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Many plants, like the onion, die off each winter above the ground but store food underground to regrow the next year. Though laymen call any such underground structure a bulb, botanists distinguish four types: bulb, corm, tuber and rhizome, collectively called geophytes.

Geophyte literally means 'earth-plant'. Dictionaries list geophyte as the plant, but in usage the term can also refer to the underground bulb, etc. from which the plant grows. Credit for coining geophyte is variously given to Christen Raunkiær or to F. W. C. Areschoug. As to the types of geophytes:

A bulb grows its stem up from a single central area, and its roots down from basal plate at the bottom. (Hence it must be planted right-side up.) So does a corm -- but a true bulb, such as an onion, contains layers (which are modified leaves), with embryonic flower already present at the center. It will produce new bulblets, and the original bulb will survive and regrow year after year. another year. A corm, in contrast, does not have that internal structure of leaves-and-flower. And though a corm will produce another generation of corm, the original corm does not survive.
. . .Many bulbs, like the onion, have a papery protective cove, called the tunic. Bulbs with a tunic are called turnicate bulbs; bulbs without that protection, called imbricate bulbs, require more care from the gardener,
. . .As examples: the onion, tulip, daffodil and lily grow from bulbs; the gladiolus and crocus from corms.

. . .A potato grows from a tuber, which is simply a swollen root or stem. The tuber has no special layers (contrast bulb) or basal plate (contrast bulb and corm). A tuber can send up multiple stems.
. . .So can a rhizome, which unlike any of the others grows horizontally beneath the surface. Thus you can propagate a rhizome simply by cutting it into sections. (But don't try that with an onion bulb!) A rhizome simply grows and extends, without developed new "baby rhizomes". The bearded iris plant is an example.

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Who can predict what might happen when a State Nurses Association takes great interest in a cultivar?

From the resident nurse on the board, yes, I surely think marijuana should be legal for medical reasons. There is nothing that relieves the nausea of chemotherapy as well marijuana does.
 
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Alchemy apparently comes from the Greek word khymeia, which means the juices or infusions of plants, as discussed here.
 
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Originally posted by wordcrafter:
cultivar – a plant variety produced in cultivation by selective breeding (the selection may be unintentional)

Not all cultivars are produced by selective breeding. Sports, witches’ brooms, and topophysis are the source of many cultivars. I imagine cultivars can also be produced through plant tissue culture and genetic engineering. Wikipedia has an article on cultivars.

A sport is a spontaneous mutation in a branch resulting in a phenotypic difference. The sport is vegetatively reproduced, usually by grafting but sometimes by cuttings, to see if it produces a plant worth attention. If the plant seems to justify it, the grower may go through the time-consuming and expensive process of registering it as a cultivar (cultivated variety) with the International Cultivar Registration Authority (ICRA) using the rules of the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (Cultivated Plant Code or ICNCP).

A witches’ broom is cluster of short, dense branches, usually the result of insect or disease. It is often vegetatively reproduced as above, often resulting in a dwarf plant. Sometimes viable seeds produced within a witches’ broom yield new plants.

Topophysis is harder for me to explain. It’s the growth response of a plant part depending on its orientation or position on the plant. For example, a plant taken from a cutting of a vertical stem generally results in a vertical plant, while a cutting taken from a horizontal branch (2nd order branch) may result in a plant that grows horizontally, and a cutting from a 3rd order branch may produce a prostrate plant. Norfolk Island Pine, Araucaria heterophylla, is an example.

The age of the plant part also may make a difference and this is also, according to the link above, considered topophysis. An example would be Davidia involucrata. I was told that a plant produced from seed would take 20 years to flower, but a plant produced from a cutting (or through grafting) would flower in 5 years.

Tinman

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