Gardening Jargon Unravelled

Gardening Jargon Unravelled No.1

Perhaps one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of life is to have a patch of garden that you can plan, plant and continue to enjoy through the seasons. Yet many people, especially new gardeners, tell us that they struggle to understand the jargon of the gardening world. Here we try and help with a glossary of frequently used terms to help answer the burning question of “What on Earth does that mean?”. We aim to continue the Gardening Jargon unravelled in future editions of this blog and the Greenshutters Garden Club Newsletter so let us know if there is anything we can include or feel free to ask a member of staff and we will be happy to help.


Horticultural – Horti (Plants), Cultural (Growing) – Growing plants.


Annual – A plant that starts and end its life in the same year, often sold as “Bedding Plants” e.g. Pansies & Begonias – plants that are often put in a flower bed to give colour for the year.


Biennial – A plant that takes two years to grow from seed to flowering and then dies once it has formed seed (e.g. foxglove).


Perennial – Any plant that grows for many years, this include trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials.  A Herbaceous Perennial is any plant that is made up of leaves and is not woody (like a tree or shrub). Most die back to the roots every year leaving no top growth (such as Peonies, Hostas and Astilbes), although some are evergreen such as Hellebores, Bergenia and grasses.


Shrub – These are woody perennial (long-lived) plants that often grow several stems from ground level to form a multi stemmed plant, also called a bush. They generally do not grow taller than 4-5m (12-15ft). Sometimes all but one stem is removed to give the shrub the appearance of a small tree and this is where the difference between a tree and a shrub can be a bit of a grey area.


Tree – A woody, perennial (long-lived) plant that often has a single stem and grows taller than 5m (15ft).


Roger Eavis