Green Scene

The modern gardener's glossary

By Joel M. Lerner
Saturday, November 28, 2009

Landscaping jargon often leaves homeowners and part-time gardeners perplexed, and it's no wonder. In the garden, commonplace words can take on different meanings. For example, "exfoliate" is not a spa treatment, "pools" aren't always for swimming, "beds" are not a place to sleep, "percolate" doesn't refer to brewing coffee and "suckers" aren't lollipops.

So, to help cut through some of that confusion, I've put together the following glossary of terms that are frequently used in landscaping and gardening. Keep it for future reference. A few entries are slang or abbreviations and may not be found in landscape and garden texts:

Amend -- Incorporate materials that improve soil structure, usually natural substances such as compost, gypsum, horticultural limestone or manure. While generally a good horticultural practice, a soil test before "amending" is always a good idea.

B and B -- An abbreviation commonly used for balled and burlapped plants, this refers to how shrubs and trees are dug and moved. Soil surrounding a plant is dug to create a "ball" of roots that is wrapped in burlap to hold soil solidly around roots.

Bed -- An area separated from paving and lawn in which trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals are arranged as part of a landscape design.

Broadcast -- Scattering landscape materials such as seed and fertilizer. Material that is "broadcast" is prone to drifting in the wind and landing in ornamental areas where you don't want it.

Bud point -- A bud is the raised area or bump on a stem where new growth emerges. Also known as a growth point, this is where a leaf, stem or major branch is already growing. Always prune just above a bud point.

Bulbs -- Plants that grow from large roots, where food from the previous season or year is stored. That food later fuels flowering. Plants referred to as bulbs are often actually corms, rhizomes or tubers. Lilies, daffodils and tulips are bulbs. Irises can be rhizomes or bulbs. Daylilies and dahlias are tubers. Gladiolas are corms.

Branch collar -- A bulge or flare about one-half inch long at the base of a branch where it meets the trunk or main stem of trees or shrubs.

Compost -- A dark mixture of decayed organic material used to enrich soil, usually containing well-aged leaves, woody material, herbaceous green matter and sometimes manure and kitchen scraps.

Canopy -- An overhead covering of trees or man-made structures that works to bring a landscape down to people-size proportions.

Container plants -- Plants propagated and grown in pots, usually transplanted from smaller containers into larger ones. Some can continue to live in a container -- a good way to control growth of over-vigorous flora.

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