The Leaflet

~ April 2024 ~

It is mid-April, and I am ready to start planting! With the fear of frost gone, and the number of plants popping up in my flowerbed, I know it’s Go Time.

The seeds I started a month or so ago are getting big enough to plant. My milkweed is finally making an appearance, and the coneflowers are showing their new leaves. However, like any gardener, I need more plants to help fill in my flowerbeds.

Thankfully, our plant sale is less than a month away. We will have a great selection, and I know I will find something new to me. Our members have been working in the greenhouse, growing a wide variety of plants. Be sure to mark your calendar for May 11 from 8 AM - 2 PM. We will be at the UT Extension Office in downtown Springfield, 408 N Main St. I hope to see you there!

There is always thyme for gardening!

Shawn Herman, President



April 25, 2024

7:00 p.m.

(Social time:

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

Highland Rim AgResearch and EduCenter



Restoring Grasslands


Laura Hunt,

Southeastern Grasslands Institute


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

Cheekwood in Bloom: Belles Fleurs

by Stacey Haag

We spent Easter at Cheekwood, enjoying the flowers and beautiful weather. Although we missed the hyacinths and some of the tulips due to the earlier arrival of warm days, there were still many beautiful blooms to enjoy. The warmer days also caused the trees, including flowering redbud, Yoshino cherry, red buckeye, and crabapple, to flower early. There was no shortage of color or photo opportunities.

The theme for the 12th annual Cheekwood in Bloom was Belles Fleurs ("beautiful flowers" in French). Parisian touches could be found throughout the gadens amid the 250,000 colorful blooming bulbs. An Eiffel Tower replica in the Bradford Robertson Color Garden was a popular spot for photo ops. Inside the mansion, an exhibition featured the work of French Impressionist artist Edgar Degas.

Looking ahead, Cheekwood will celebrate Arbor Day on April 27. The first 500 visitors will be able to take home their own sapling. Special interest events are planned throughout the day, including learning how trees have provided inspiration for centuries, from jewelry to fine art, tree sketching, tree trivia, and a meet-and-greet with Root Nashville. There will also be a community tree planting ceremony where you can get all of your tree-planting questions answered by Cheekwood experts.

A Message From Your Plant Sale Project Lead...

WHAT: RCMGA Annual Plant Sale. This fundraiser is how we are able to develop the demonstration gardens at Highland Rim and continue to support our other projects.

WHEN: Saturday, May 11, 8 AM - 2 PM at the UT Extension Office on Main St, Springfield, TN


  • Spread the word with road signs, social media, posters, public bulletin boards, etc.
  • Divide/pot up perennials, propagated house plants, and seed starts.
  • Label with name, growth needs/habits. Basically, answer any questions you might ask when buying a plant.
  • There is a form on the website that you can fill out for each type of plant you have.
  • Price you would pay for the plant. I've been thinking $3-$15 or anything in between. Consider size, quality, and availability. Even dollar amounts only.
  • Gather donations for free table: magazines, seeds, gently used tools, etc.
  • If you have garden art or decorative containers you no longer love, put a price on it and bring it in.
  • Gather small-/mid-sized boxes for people to place their purchases in.
  • Keep track of your time spent on these activities to log as volunteer hours.


  • The Extension Office conference room is reserved for us to intake plants and donations.
  • If you are able to help, let me know your time frame. I will be there from 8 AM. The office closes at 4:30 PM. If you need a later drop off time, let me know and we will arrange it.
  • We need to inventory what comes in before the sale and what is left after, to better plan for the future.
  • If we have enough people, we will bring the plants from the greenhouse. If not, we need to do it Saturday morning.


  • Set-up starts at 6:30 AM.
  • Tables set up on patio with colorful tablecloths.
  • Plants set out in like groups: shade, sun, perennial, annual, house, etc. with signs.
  • Some people will need help unloading plants they bring in the morning.
  • Talk to people, answer questions, suggest plants that may not be familiar to them.
  • This is a great time to share your love of gardening.
  • The sale closes at 2 PM.
  • We need to inventory what is left.
  • Transport to the greenhouse.
  • Clean up conference room and patio.

No one is expected to be there all day. Any time you can help will be appreciated. Keep track of your time to log volunteer hours. Bring a chair for comfort and remember to stay hydrated. Looking forward to another successful group effort.


Thanks everyone,

 Becky Juanes

 Text or call, cell: 603-727-2049

 Leave message, home: 615-384-7808


The State Botanical Garden of Tennessee

by Nola Hastings

On Easter weekend, we drove east to visit our son, a graduate student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. It was a beautiful, sunny, 75-degree day. Needing to walk off our lunch and ice cream (I highly recommend Sweet Queen Creamery), we decided to stroll through the UT Gardens, Knoxville – The State Botanical Garden of Tennessee.

Tennessee did not have an official botanical garden until 2013 when Tennessee’s Governor signed a bill designating the University of Tennessee Gardens as the official State Botanical Garden of Tennessee. In addition to being beautiful spaces, botanical gardens serve as areas for experts to study, exhibit, and teach about plants.

Although it was early spring and most plants were not yet in bloom, there was still plenty to see. One remarkable thing that caught our attention was the chimney bee mud wall. In 2020, UT Knoxville was designated a Bee Campus USA, a national effort among colleges and universities to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators and provide new and improved pollinator habitats. Additional program goals include improving local plant nursery markets by increasing demand for native, pollinator-friendly plants, and mobilizing the community to remove non-native invasive plants to make way for locally native plants.

In bloom were Trillium, Virginia bluebells, Quince, and a cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata). This beautiful tree, which gets its name from the cucumber-like seed cones that appear after the blossoms fall off, is native to eastern North America and produces sweet-scented, greenish-yellow blossoms similar to tulips. I’m looking forward to another visit this summer to see what additional treats this garden has to offer.

Vermicomposting with Kathy Doss

by Stacey Haag

At our March meeting, Certified RCMG Kathy Doss gave an informative and entertaining presentation on vermicomposting, a process that relies on worms and microorganisms to break down and stabalize organic materials. The resulting compost is a nutrient-dense soil amendment. Many were in attendance for her talk, which generated many questions and thoughtful discussion.

For those who would like to read more about vermicomposting, please see Kathy's article in the February 2023 issue of our newsleter, The Leaflet, which can be found on our website at

Profiles in Gardening...

Miss Dorothy Briggs

How did you first become interested in gardening?

My first interest in gardening, that I can remember, was my mother growing sweet potato vines when I was a child. She'd put the potatoes in water in blue mason jars on the window sill. When they'd sprout, she'd break off the sprouts and root them, too. Then in the spring, she'd plant them and grow more sweet potatoes.

Other than Robertson County, where have you lived and gardened?

I was born in Brownsville, Texas where my family lived for 13 years. They moved there from Robertson County and were vegetable farmers. Dad grew cabbages and other vegetables and sold them by the ton for $0.03 a pound. When my grandfather died in Brownsville in 1921, a white lily bulb (crinum lily) was planted by his grave marker. It is still there, and I have a bulb from that plant that blooms every year in my yard. In 1934, my family returned to Robertson County and Dad planted an orchard with a wide variety of trees and vines. One was a Concord grape vine. While the farm was being sold in 1955, I dug the grapevine up and moved it to my home on the Briggs Family Farm. It is still growing and producing fruit.

What are two of your favorite plants?

My favorite plant is the yellow angel trumpet. They are beautiful, fragrant, and make the yard a wonderful place when they are in bloom. The birds and butterflies love them, too. Tomatoes are my other favorite plant and my "best vegetable.” There are so many varieties, and I especially like the yellow “Mr. Stripy.” Vegetables and flowers are my favorite types of gardening. I love to plant a tiny seed or bulb and watch it develop into something special and beautiful. I also love to grow something good to eat.

Why did you become a Master Gardener?

I became a Tennessee Master Gardener in 2009 after farming and gardening for many years. It is important to learn how to grow and preserve our foods. It is fun being with people who have the same interests and work together on good, worthwhile projects that can really make a difference. My Master Gardener projects include the continued restoration of an ancestral cemetery, as well as my work at the Highland Rim garden.

What other hobbies or interests do you have?

I have also loved to sew, crochet, make holiday flower arrangements, and other crafts. I have three wonderful children, six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild! I had a wonderful husband for 62 years. I have lived on the Briggs Family Farm, in the same farmhouse, for 74 years.

From Miss Dorothy's Garden

Spanish bluebells

wood poppies (foreground) and money plant (background)

"Here is a favorite iris from my yard, and there may be some in the plant sale. It smells like concord grapes. It is tall on a sturdy thin stem and a small bloom. The iris has been documented back to 1597 by John Gerard, priest and herbalist. He described the flower aroma in Gerard's Herball as 'exceedingly sweet'. Its name is Dalmatia and is from the Dalmatian coast currently named Croatia."

Upcoming Events

May 11: RCMGA Annual Plant Sale

Robertson County UT Extension Office


Contact Us



Shawn Herman

(615) 948-4376


Vice President:

Nola Hastings

(714) 296-2740



Holly Brooks

(760) 861-4833



Sandy Williams

(615) 969-7656


Master Gardener Coordinator:

Bob Ary

(615) 384-7936

Instagram Administrator:

Kathy Doss

(615) 636-5410



Kathy Doss

(615) 636-5410


Facebook Administrator:

Shawn Herman

(615) 948-4376


The Leaflet Editor:

Stacey Haag

(615) 389-4663

Robertson County Master Gardener Association
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