If you happen to sit near a group of gardeners in a coffee shop, close enough that you can hear part of the conversation, you may think you are at a meeting of the Italic Language Society.
You would likely overhear such things as Agastache foeniculum, Alchemilla mollis or Hydrangea quercifolia. But these gardeners are not trying to be pretentious. They are simply trying to get it right. There is good reason for this. To describe plants any other way is simply too confusing.
Take for example, the spring flowers that gardeners refer to as Scilla tubergeniana, Mertensia virginica and Hyacinthoides nonscripta. Every one of these flowering bulbs are more commonly known as bluebells. Gardeners prefer to use the more complicated Latin names to help distinguish between plants that are otherwise known by the same common names.
Basically, when you request a plant by its common name, what you get may not be what you want.
Of course there are exceptions to everything. Even well-established gardeners don't mess with certain things. There aren't many of us who would take on Nipponanthemum nipponicum. Even among those of us who try to practice binomial nomenclature, we still distinguish this plant from other varieties by calling it by its common name, ''Montauk Daisy.''
But let's not get too crazy here. A layman to the gardening world might simply say, ''that's a daisy,'' but we know there is a definite daisy difference between Montauk and Shasta. Both are daisies, yet both are different enough in growth habit and bloom times that we need a a way to distinguish between them.
Gardeners also get annoyed at botanists who insist on changing the rules in the middle of the game. The Montauk Daisy, for example, also has been known botanically as Chrysanthemum nipponicum and Leucanthemum nipponicum and by that first name I wrote that I can't bring myself to type again.
What sets the Montauk apart from the more common Shasta daisy is its blooming period. The Shasta blooms in mid-summer, often tiring out by early fall. The Montauk is a late bloomer, and while a heavy frost takes out the flowers and outer stems, if it's planted in a protected area, it is somewhat semi-evergreen. In early spring, shearing the plant down to the ground will encourage new stems to grow.
Like other members of the daisy family, Montauks like full sun and well drained soil. They are often planted where spring-flowering bulbs are growing. They are short enough in spring not to take the stage away from the early bloomers and yet tall enough to conceal the nasty foliage once the tulips and daffodils have ended their show.
Another great trait of the Montauk daisy is its ability to root readily from cuttings. If you want more of these plants, cut off about six-inch stems and stick them into a pot of sand. Keep them moist and keep the cuttings out of direct sun, although a little sunlight is nice. In a short time, you'll have new plants, each of the with the ability to grow into a good-size shrub in two or three years. Established clumps of Montauk daisies can be lifted and divided as well.
The bottom line is if you like your daisies, and who doesn't, plant plenty of both Montauk and Shastas for a nearly full season of happy-faced blooms.