A-to-Z of gardening

Maria Zampini has spent a lifetime in the garden industry. She's a fourth-generation nursery person and the president and owner of UpShoot, a horticultural marketing firm that specializes in bringing new plants to market.

She knows the business. The problem is other people, who don't, including employees.

As a writer for consumer magazines, she says she would catch herself using a term that not everybody knew. "You grew up hearing it, but they didn't. So I'd rewrite that sentence."

She has solved the problem by writing, with horticulturist Pamela Bennett, "Garden-pedia: An A-to-Z Guide to Gardening Terms" (St. Lynn's Press), which codifies a lot of the terminology that new and veteran gardeners use. Bennett is the Ohio Master Gardener volunteer coordinator and director for Ohio State University Extension in Clark County.

"If someone looks for a term [online], it's very technical in nature," Zampini said. "We said it'd be nice if there was something more conversational in tone, and the average person can understand it."

She and Bennett ended up with about 300 terms, starting with "abiotic" (a nonliving organism) and ending with "zone" (a geographic area defined by average winter, or summer, temperature). With many terms, there's additional commentary and color photos.

And even the expert learned a thing or two.

"There are terms I didn't know," she says. "There's one, a ha-ha. Pam came up with it."

And, as long as we're here: A ha-ha is a term for a sunken fence that creates a barrier for animals while allowing the viewer on the other, higher side an unfettered view.

Chicago Tribune