A Gardener’s Dictionary

Any discussion of gardens should focus on using correct terminology. This Gardeners’ Dictionary is presented as a handy guide for novice and seasoned gardeners alike with the hope that it will clarify currently used vocabulary.

(Note 1: Since this is a scholarly piece, pictures do not accompany text.)

Annual – plant that dies as soon as you plant it, as opposed to Perennial, which is a plant that had it lived, would have come back next year

Catalog Offerings, first choice – For plants used in cottage gardens look for Code MESS

Catalog Offerings, second choice – For plants used in formal gardens look for Code STIF

Chemical – product used to eradicate undesirable plants but works best on desirable plants

Deadheading – time-consuming chore of removing spent blooms, but can be avoided with the usual life cycle of Annuals or Perennials

Deer – adorable large creature that destroys your favorite daylily

Eradication – the act of chemically removing plants that are growing well

Hedge – a series of heavily pruned shrubs in a row that create a striking visual effect, especially if one or two shrubs in the middle die out

Meatballs – usually a food; in gardening a shrub pruned to this shape. For example, some home landscape designs feature many meatballs of varying sizes lined up in a row. Also known as lollipops.

Mulch – organic or inorganic material used for decorative purposes and/or conserving water that provides optimum conditions for colonization by weeds

Perennial – plant that had it lived, it would have come back next year, as opposed to an Annual which dies soon after you plant it

Planting in Threes – aesthetic landscape design technique that insures at least one plant in the group will remain alive long enough for you to enjoy it

Pruning – the act of chopping off undesirable growth, chainsaw most efficient and preferred tool

Rabbit – adorable small creature that destroys your favorite hosta

Seeding In – what weeds do best (see definition of Weeds)

Shrub – woody plant susceptible to disease, drought, poor drainage, bugs, rabbits and deer

Soil, clay – type of soil that causes plants to drown and die

Soil, sand – type of soil that causes plants to dry up and die

Soil, superior – type of soil that causes plants to grow. Nobody has this soil

Thug – plant that grows so well it pushes out Annuals and Perennials and has to be eradicated (see definition). Especially nasty because thugs are often so attractive they are desired by uninitiated gardeners

Tidy Garden – garden that is best viewed at night

Tool Belt – if worn and used properly, effective for keeping track of trowels, pruners, etc.

Tree – tall, grown-up thug with heavy roots and deep shade with no consideration for smaller plants

Trowel – small hand tool usually buried in the last place it was used

Weed – happy plant

Weeding – the act of removing happy plants to uncover dying Annuals or Perennials

(Note 2: Please feel free to notify the editor about any errors or omissions in this Dictionary.)

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4 Responses to A Gardener’s Dictionary

  1. Linda says:

    Thanks for a laugh out loud gardeners dictionary! 😅

  2. Michelle E Duffy says:

    Oh Carolyn, this is GREAT!! I will be sure to keep a log of any new “urban yard language” I hear of to give to you in the future. Take care, Michelle

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