garden dictionary

Dictionary of gardening names and terms

Acacia

Mimosa Wattle. Yellow flowered evergreen needs greenhouse protection in temperate and cool areas.
 

Acanthus

Bear's Foot. Perennial. Chocolate and white flowers on tall stalks thistle-like foliage.
 

Aeration

Hoeing ridging soil in winter and deep digging to open soil to the air and 'sweeten' it also making holes in a lawn to encourage growth.
 

Acer

Maple. Japanese maples are delicate feathery leaved and often give spectacular autumn colour.
 

Acid soil

Soils with high content of peat or high levels other types of decayed vegetable matter and low in chalk are said to be 'acid'. Good for growing 'lime haters' such as rhododendrons and heather.
 

Aconite

Monkshood. Perennial. Blue purple and bicoloured flowers on tall spikes.
 

Air Layering

Way of rooting stiff branches or shoots attached to a parent plant. Stem is sliced under a joint sprinkled with hormone rooting powder area wrapped in compost filled polythene strip.
 

Alluvial soil

Soils formed from the sediment of rivers
 

Alkaline Soil

see Calcareous Soil
 

Allium

Perennials hardy bulb rooted. Includes onions leeks and decorative types.
 

Aloe Vera

Succulent. Tender can be grown outdoors in warm climates houseplant in temperate zones that can be put outside in sheltered sunny spot in summer.
 

Alpine House

Unheated greenhouse used for rock and alpine plants needs good ventilation and light.
 

Amaranthus

Love Lies Bleeding. Half hardy annual. Striking seed tassels. Some varieties produce edible leaves and seeds.
 

Amaryllis

Jersey Lily. Tender bulbous plants with striking lily type flower. Usually grown indoors to flower in early winter.
 

American Blight

see Woolly Aphis.
 

Anise

Annual herb. Pimpinella anisum. Grown for aniseed tasting seeds.
 

Annual

Plant that only lives for one year.
 

Apple Mildew

Powdery mildew producing stunted growth caused by Podosphaera leucotricha.
 

Anemone

Windflower. Perennial. Hardy. Both Tuberous rooted and Herbaceous species.
 

Angel's Trumpet

see Datura.
 

Aquatics

Plants that are grown in water.
 

Arbour

Shaded and/or sitting area made from wood wicker or metal that plants climb over.
 

Artemesia

Perennial herb. Artemisia spicata. Used fresh or dried leaves.
 

Axil

Angle between the base of a leaf and the stem of a plant.
 

Balm

Perennial herb. Melissa offininalis. Lemon tasting leaves used fresh or dried.
 

Bark

Outer layer of the branch or trunk of a tree or shrub.
 

Basil Sweet

Annual herb. Ocimium basilicum.
 

Bast

Inner bark of a Lime Tree.
 

Bay Sweet

Perennial herb. Laurus nobilis. Leaves used fresh or dried.
 

Bear's Foot

see Acanthus.
 

Bell Glass

Bell shaped cloche made from glass (with knob on top) or plastic.
 

Bergamot

Perennial herb. Monarda didyma. Leaves and flowers are used.
 

Berry

True berry has seeds inside pulp e.g. currant false berry has seeds outside pulp eg strawberry.
 

Biennial

Plant that grows flowers and dies within 2 years e.g. foxglove.
 

Blanching

Keeping light from vegetables to produce a specific crop e.g. forcing chicory in the dark.
 

Bleeding

Oozing sap from a surface wound eg grape vines pruned too early can 'bleed' to death.
 

Bleeding Heart

see Dicentra.
 

Blight

Fungal disease that attacks potatoes and tomatoes.
 

Borage

Annual herb. Borago officinalis. Leaves and flowers are used.
 

Bottom Heat

Heat from decaying manure heap or heated propagator used to warm compost under seeds or cuttings.
 

Break

First shoots from the main stem of chrysanthemums.
 

Breastwood

Shoots that grow out from the main branches of espalier or fruit trained fruit trees.
 

Briar Stock

Rootstock from wild Dog Rose
 

Broadcast

Seeds sown by scattering widely often by hand.
 

Budding

Inserting the bud of a plant into the shoot of a stock plant.
 

Buds

Baby' future shoots or flowers that form on shoots in axils or on tubers.
 

Bulb

Swollen underground stem of a plant made up of scales e.g. onion.
 

Bulbils

Miniature bulb type growths that develop in the axils of lily leaves.
 

Calcareous Soil

Chalky soil.
 

Callus

Tissue that forms on the base of a cutting before new roots form.
 

Calyx

Outer leaves surrounding the petals of a flower
 

Cambrium

Tissue between the bark and inner wood of a stem.
 

Canker

Decaying part of stems branches or trunk of a tree.
 

Cararway

Annual herb. Carum carvi. Seeds are used for flavouring.
 

Catch Crop

Quickly grown vegetables cropped between slower or permanent crops e.g. radishes between peas.
 

Chamomile

Perennial herb. Anthemis nobilis. Flowers are used.
 

Charcoal

Wood is slowly burnt without air to make charcoal - garden uses are as a 'sweetener' in potting compost can be used to help drain pots.
 

Chervil

Annual herb. Anthriscus cerefolium. Leaves are used.
 

Chives

Perennial herb. Allium schoenoprasum. Leaves are used.
 

Clamp

A way of storing potatoes swedes beetroot and other root crops that are put in a heap and covered with soil.
 

Climbers

Rambling plants used to cover walls fences sheds pergolas etc.
 

Cloves

Baby' bulbs of garlic or shallots.
 

Coleward

Dwarf variety of cabbage.
 

Coriander

Annual herb. Coriandrum sativum. Seeds and leaves are used.
 

Corm

Swollen bulb-like base of plants such as Cyclamen.
 

Cotyledons

First leaves of seedlings.
 

Couch Grass

Fleshy rooted invasive grass. Botanical name Triticum repens.
 

Crab Apple

Native wild apple sometimes used as root stock.
 

Creeper

Plant with flexible shoots used as wall fence or shed covering e.g. ivy.
 

Crocks

Broken pieces of flower pots used for draining flower pots.
 

Crop Rotation

Growing different types of vegetable crop year after year to prevent disease build up.
 

Crown Bud

Top flower bud of a chrysanthemum
 

Crown Grafting

Putting scions under the raised bark of a branch that has been cut back.
 

Damping Off

Seedling collapse caused by excess moisture and a fungus.
 

Datura

Angel's Trumpet. Half hardy annual. Shrubs/trees with large scented trumpet shaped flowers.
 

Deciduous

Trees and shrubs that lose their leaves in winter.
 

Delphinium

Perennial. Hardy. Tall spikes of white blue lavender or purple. Needs staking and protecting from slugs.
 

Dianthus

Sweet William and other varieties including border carnations and annual pinks.
 

Dibber

Tool used for making holes for seedlings e.g. pencil sized piece of dowel or cut down fork handle with sharpened end.
 

Dicentra

Bleeding Heart. Perennial. Hardy. Pink or white flowers in early summer.
 

Dicotyledons

Plants with 2 seed leaves e.g. courgette.
 

Dill

Annual herb. Peucedanum graveolens. Seeds and leaves are used.
 

Disbudding

Removing unwatnted shoot or flower buds.
 

Drill

Shallow trench for sowing seeds in.
 

Drying off

Not watering plants and bulbs during the winter.
 

Earthing up

Drawing soil up the sides of plants such as potatoes and celery.
 

Evergreen

Plants that keep their leaves all year e.g. Holly.
 

Eye

A dormant wood bud.
 

Fennel

Annual - but can overwinter in shetered areas herb. Foeniculum vulgare. Fresh or dried seeds and leaves are used thick stalks eaten raw or cooked.
 

Fumigating

Using a poisonous smoke to kill insects in a greenhouse.
 

Garlic

Bulb grown from cloves. Allium sativum.Used fresh.
 

Gooseberry Mildew

Fungal disease attacking leaves stems and fruits. Mildew that turns from white to brown..
 

Gourd

Round and other shaped fruit of the genus Curcurbita.
 

Graft

Shoot prepared to be inserted into the branch of a tree.
 

Green Fly

An aphid - natural predator is the ladybird.
 

Greenhouse

Place to grow plants in a controlled environment.
 

Green manure

Quick growing bulk producing crops such as mustard and vetches dug into the earth when a few centimetres high.
 

Grit

Small stoney particles used to lighten heavy soil or as a medium for growing Alpines.
 

Habitat

Natural home of a plant or a specially created area suited to specific plants e.g. a gravel bed for drought loving plants.
 

Half Hardy

Plants that need protection in winter.
 

Hardening Off

Gradually acclimatising plants raised in cover before planting them outside.
 

Heeling in

Temporarily planting plants trees and shrubs close together in a trench until they can go in their permanent position.
 

Herbaceous

Plants that lose stems and leaves in winter e.g. Lupins.
 

Honeydew

Sugary honey-type sap on the surface of leaves.
 

Hotbed

Decomposing manure topped with soil and covered with a frame - used to grow plants needing heat.
 

Humus

Natural compost or well rotted manure.
 

Hybrid

Plant reared from cross between 2 species e.g. Loganberry.
 

Hyssop

Perennial herb. Hyssopus officinalis. Used fresh.
 

Inarching

Grafting together 2 branches of separate plants.
 

Jersey Lily

see Amaryllis.
 

Lateral

Side shoot growing from main stem of a plant.
 

Lavender

Perennial herb. Lavandula spica. Flower heads used dried.
 

Layering

Way of propagating plants by buring a growing part in the soil.
 

Leaf Mould

Decayed leaves.
 

Lichen

A symbiosis between an algae and a fungus.
 

Loam

Soil made up of sand clay and decayed grass and plants.
 

Love Lies Bleeding

see Amaranthus.
 

Maiden Tree

Trees roses etc 1 year old.
 

Maple

see Acer.
 

Marjoram

Perennial herb. Origanum onites. Leaves used fresh or dried.
 

Marl

Chalky soil made up of clay and carbonate of lime used to be used as a fertiliser on farmland.
 

Mimosa

see Acacia.
 

Mint

Perennial herb. Mentha spicata. Fresh and dried leaves used.
 

Monkshood

see Aconite.
 

Monocotyledon

Plant with 1 leaf e.g. onion.
 

Mulching

Covering the surface of soil with layer of leaves grass cutting etc to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
 

Nasturtium

Annual herb. Tropaeolum. Leaves flowers and seeds are used.
 

Offsets

Bulblets or plants still attached to parent plant.
 

Osier

Young shoots of Osier Willow (Salix viminalis) used for making baskets etc.
 

Ovary

Where seeds develop in a flower
 

Parsley

Perennial herb. Petroselinum crispum. Leaves are used.
 

Pegging Down

Fixing parts of long shoots of plants close to the soil to help propagation.
 

Peppermint

Perennial herb. Mentha piperita. Mainly used dried but can be used fresh.
 

Pennyroyal.

Perennial herb. Used fresh in small amounts.
 

Perennial

Plant that can live for many years.
 

Pergola

Structure - usually wooden often over a path used as a support for climbing plants.
 

Picotee

Type of carnation with flower edges a different colour from the main part.
 

Pinching

Removing the growing points of plants to encourage them to develop more bushy growth.
 

Pinks

see Dianthus. Annual and Perennial varieties.
 

Piping

Shoot of a carnation ready to use as a cutting.
 

Pistil

Female organ of a flower.
 

Plunging

Sinking a pot to its rim in earth or other medium.
 

Pollination

The action - windborn insect carried or manual - of taking pollen from the anthers to the stigma of a flower.
 

Pricking out

Transplanting young seedlings.
 

Pruning

Cutting off unwanting parts of a tree or plant.
 

Puddling

Putting clay in the bottom of a pond ramming it down to make a waterproof base.
 

Radicle

Embryo root of a germinated seed.
 

Retarding

Keeping plants in a cool environment to retard their growth - e.g. controlling flowering plant for Flower Shows.
 

Rhizome

Underground stem.
 

Ridging

Making soil into ridges to expose to the air during winter or pulling earth up around potatoes or celery.
 

Root Pruning

Pruning roots to check growth.
 

Rosemary

Perennial herb. Rosmarinus officinalis. Used fresh and dried.
 

Rue

Perrenial herb. Ruta graveolens.Mainly used in herbal remedies for animals.
 

Runners

Stems coming from the base of a plant that develop a 'baby' plant at the tip e.g. starwberry runners.
 

Sage

Perennial herb. Salvia officinalis. Used fresh or dried.
 

Savory

Summer Savory is an annual Winter Savory a perennial herb. Used fresh.
 

Scion

Shoot used for grafting onto the stem of a tree.
 

Second crown bud

Bud that develops on a new shoot after the crown bud has been removed e.g. on a chrysanthemum
 

Sets

Onion bulbs and potato tubers to plant.
 

Shanking

Shrivelling of the stalks holding bunches of grapes to the vine.
 

Shoddy

Waste wool used as a long lasting nitrogen rich fertiliser.
 

Shrub

Woody stemmed perennial.
 

Silver Sand

Very pale fine sand used in potting compost.
 

Sorrel

Perennial but can be grown as an annual herb. Rumex acetosa. Used fresh.
 

Southernwood

Perennial herb. Artemisia abrotanum. Used in pot-pourri.
 

Spawn

Mycelium of mushrooms also used as name for 'cakes' of straw earth etc impregnated with mycelium.
 

Spit

A spadeful of soil.
 

Spore

Fern cell that will germinate and produce a plant.
 

Spur

Short shoot - naturally produced or formed by pruning.
 

Standard

Tree with a clear stem of around 2 metres Standard roses have a clear stem of around 1 metre
 

Stigma

Top of the pistil (female part) of a flower.
 

Stock

Stem onto which scion is grafted
 

Stopping also known as Pinching

Removing the growing points of plants to encourage them to develop more bushy growth.
 

Striking

Putting cuttings into soil.
 

Subsoil

Lower layer of soil.
 

Succulents

Fleshy leafed plants e.g. Sempervivum commonly known as House Leek.
 

Sucker

Shoot or branch from the underground part of a plant.
 

Sweet Williams

see Dianthus. Generally treated as a biennial but is perennial in sheltered places.
 

Tansy

Perennial herb. Tanacetum vulgare. Used to be used as a herb for flavouring but now grown decoratively.
 

Tarragon

Perennial herb - needs protection in exposed areas. Artemisia dracunulus. Fresh and dried leaves are used.
 

Tap-root

Main root that goes vertically down into the soil.
 

Tendril

Thin growth a plant uses to attach itself to a support.
 

Terminal Bud

Flower bud that develops at the end of a lateral shoot.
 

Thyme

Perennial herb. Used fresh and dried.
 

Topdressing

Layer of compost or manure applied to surface of soil or pots.
 

Topiary

Cutting and shaping suitable plants to make shapes e.g. yew box.
 

Transplanting

Moving plants from one area to another.
 

Trenching

Method of deep digging soil.
 

Tuber

Swollen underground stem e.g. Begonia.
 

Truss

Number of flowers in a cluster e.g. tomatoes
 

Violet Sweet

Annual herb. Viola odorata. Used fresh.
 

Wattle

see Acacia.
 

Woolly Aphis

Also known as American Blight. An aphis that attacks apple trees killing buds and swelling shoots.