Garden Terms and Jargon Used by Plant Lovers and Growers
Like other hobbies and special interests, gardeners have their own terminology and jargon. Gardeners, in particular flower gardeners, have specific terms they like to use. Understanding the meaning and use of garden words helps clear up confusion among fellow plant lovers.
General Garden Jargon
A bed in garden terms is a planting area with a defined boundary. It is often related to landscaping, as there are likely to be many beds in one backyard. The edge of a bed will have a border. Border plants, for instance, are used in mass and can create a narrow irregular line along the front of a planting bed. It would be unusual for groups of dramatic specimen plants to edge a border.
Words to describe foliage or flower parts and textures are part of the garden world. Of importance is how some descriptions further inform a gardener about a plant. Pubescent on a leaf, stem or flower infers that it has a fine soft touch. From this, gardeners will consider that the plant has a degree of drought tolerance. Woolly is another term, more specifically referring to long soft, matted hairs. Alone these terms do not describe the entire plant but does offer clues to where it will thrive in a flower garden.
Types of Flower Gardens
Flower gardens widely range in style, most serving more than one purpose. Landscaping is moving soil, water, plants and structures to create a particular garden style or purpose.
Straight lines characterize formal gardens; the opposite sides will be mirror images of each other. In formal gardens it is common to see a strong structure lined up on the center axis.
Cutting, pollinators, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and native plant gardens are types of gardens inspired by hobbies or interests that complement gardening. A cutting garden can be a spot, set within another type of garden, where only flowers later cut for vases or dried for floral arrangements are grown. Yet, while in the garden the plants will attract pollinators or provide fragrance.
Container garden, potted gardens, and enabling gardens describe styles and techniques similar to indoor gardening. Plants are grown in containers that can hold soil. As more and more people live on smaller plots of land, container gardening is the only choice some gardeners have to grow plants. Enabling garden techniques and tools allow people with physical limitations to enjoy growing plants.
Flower Forms and Habits
Flower descriptions help to determine which plants a gardener might want in her garden. The flower, or inflorescence, describes how the flower looks or flower form and the flower habit.
Solitary flower forms are single blooms on one stem and the disk at the center, sometimes called a cone. Echinacea is an example of a solitary flower with a center cone that has petals called ray florets, petals radiating outward.
Garden phlox in contrast has big clusters of disk shaped flowers arranged in large panicles. The individual disk-shaped flower is tubular, one type of flower form hummingbirds favor.
Gardeners use nomenclature to accurately describe plants. Although common names are fun and popular, they are inaccurate and confusing, especially for new gardeners.
The genus name indicates a group of plants with more than one species but has similar flowers and fruits. It is written, first letter capitalized, for example Hemerocallis, then initialized or underlined when handwritten.
Following the genus is the species; spelled the same in the singular or plural form. The species is the specific epithet plant classification. The species is also italized but when handwritten, it is not underlined. The cultivar is a plant within a species that has one or more character traits that standout from the species. Stokesia laevis ‘Purple Pixie’ is one example.
Understanding garden terminology, the meanings and how plant lovers use them will help in becoming accustomed to normal garden practices. Garden jargon is a useful tool when communicating with other like-minded people.