Starting seeds indoors

photo
When starting seeds indoors timing is everything.Before you even begin making a good plan of what you want to plant and backing it up by creating a calendar will make the whole process way easier to implement and enjoy.

After you have chosen the coolest seeds to start indoors be sure to check the dates to maturity, you don’t want your seeds to germinate and grow quickly and then have it be to cold outside to transplant them in the garden. So count back from the time to plant outdoors and mark your calendar accordingly. It can be a simple sketch with dates off to the side or you can geek out on an elaborate program. Here a link to a seed starting chart to help you get started  http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/seed-starting-chart. And here is the farmers almanac 2014 Best Spring dates for seeds http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/OR/Portland.

Now you are ready to plant.

Light is one of the most important elements in starting seeds indoors.  Seedlings that don’t get enough light will be leggy and weak and likely only survive to about 3 inches tall and then shrivel. If you have a good southern facing window you may not need additional lighting but everyone else should consider using a grow light. Also, lights will fade over time so bulbs should be replaced annually for best results.

Temperature is also a factor, if seeds are too chilly they might not ever emerge let alone thrive. Seed starting heat mats are available commercially and while they can really help the process they are not completely necessary as long as you monitor the temp. Seeds placed right in a window may get to cold from the drafts. Check seed packages for specific temp and light requirements.

Soil is also a big consideration. A seed starting mix is best as it will be a very light composition of peat-lite and will be easy for tender young plants to push through. Seed starting mixes also usually contain a very mellow amount of fertilizer just right for young plants. Regular garden soil isn’t the best option as it will contain lots of organisms and bacteria that could harm new plants.

Containers should always be clean and sterilized before use. You can use last seasons plastic pots, pop out trays, flats or even used plastic food containers like yogurt or hummus tubs just be sure that there are holes in the bottom for good drainage. Peat pots are an easy way to go as they have a specially formulated seed composite and you can plop the whole thing in the garden when ready to transplant. You can also make paper pots yourself.

Fill container about three quarters full with your soil medium. Leave enough room at the top so water can fill and drain into the soil without running over the sides (this will help you be sure to water each pot evenly) Check the seed package for desired depth.

Water is essential when starting seeds. Make sure the soil in your containers is quite moist all the way to the bottom. Invisible dry pockets can form under the surface of new soil so its easier to pre – mix the soil with water in a bowl before filling containers. You don’t want the soil to be soggy but you also don’t want it to be at all dry. Take a clump up in your hands and lightly squeeze to remove any dripping excess before filling. Check moisture frequently and don’t let them dry out at all, a plastic or glass cover helps keep the moisture in.

Seedlings cannot be allowed to dry out but they are also very sensitive to damping off, a fungal disease which can become a problem if the soil is too wet. Keep your pots moist but never soggy and remove coverings once the seedlings begin to develop. Another thing that can help is to put a very small oscillating fan on the seedlings. This will keep air flow moving around the seeds and also forces the little plants to develop strong stalks but it can also dry them out so watch the water! Misters can supply just the right amount of water to the soil but you don’t want to leave leaves to wet and susceptible to fungal disease.

Hardening off is so important! Tender seedlings need time to adjust from perfect indoor to harsh outdoor conditions. Place seedlings in a protected outdoor location. You want to shelter them from winds hard rains and especially direct sunlight which can burn them. Start out with an hour or so a day and gradually work up to more time each day. A week generally gives them the right amount of time to adjust before being planted directly outdoors.

Fertilizers should be used cautiously in the beginning. You new plants need food to grow but too much can do more harm than good. There are some great seedling fertilizer mixes available just follow the directions and enjoy all those new baby plants for the garden.

Moon Planting

My great great grandmother Ina was a native American farmer in Colorado. My grandmother Lucille remembers her garden as one of the biggest and most beautiful in the whole county. Lot’s of people teased her about planting by the moon but nobody argued about the size of her harvests!

For centuries farmers have planned not only the planting and harvesting of crops according to the phases of the moon but all sorts of seemingly unrelated farm activities like when to wean animals, when to set fence boards and even when to cut the lawn have traditionally been planned according to the cycles of the moon!
This ancient practice has fallen out of style but speaking from experience – it can work!

The basic explanation of the benefits of planting by the lunar cycle is that the moon governs moisture. Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist, wrote that the Moon “replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, when she recedes, she empties them.”

Water on the earths surface is influenced by the gravitational pull of the moon. Imagine the moon pulling the tides in the oceans across the globe. The theory is that the moon has a pull on all bodies of water, or bodies that contain water such as plants and animals and even human beings. This is a subtle pull but it has a very real effect. This lunar pull also brings moisture in the soil closer to the surface, which encourages things like growth and germination.

The moon has four phases or quarters each one lasting about seven days. The first two quarters, between the new and the full moon are called the waxing moon, this is the period that the moon appears to be growing. The third and fourth quarters occur after the full moon when the light is waning and it looks as if the moon is shrinking again.

Vegetable planting tips guided by the phases of the moon

The first quarter:
After the new moon, when the moon is completely dark, it begins to gradually “grow” pulling energy towards the earths surface which encourages seeds to swell and germinate. This phase of gentle pull makes for a balanced time for both root and leaf development. Plant seeds for vegetables with above ground fruit but that set their seeds outside the fruit – Broccoli, cabbage, celery cauliflower, lettuces, spinach and greens. Cucumbers and zucchini are an exception as they can also be planted in this phase.

The second quarter:
During this phase the moon is growing and the pull is increasing which makes for strong leaf growth. Plants that produce above ground with their seeds inside the fruit do very well planted in this phase. Beans, and peas, peppers, squash, eggplant and tomatoes. Two days before the full moon is an especially good time for planting in general and is the best time to transplant starts or any new potted additions to your garden because as the moon transitions into and past the full moon root growth will be coming into it’s prime this includes perennials and ornamentals as well as fruit trees, potted herbs and vegetables that have been started indoors.

The third quarter:
This is the time directly after the full moon. The moon is at its peak pull creating the most moisture in the soil, but that pull is beginning to diminish. Root crops do best planted in this phase as energy is dropping back down into the deep soil and root systems. Veggies to plant now – beets, radishes, garlic, onions, potatoes and carrots. You can also gather seeds and harvest fruits, herbs and vegetables for their peak time near a full moon.

The fourth quarter:
This phase of the moons cycle has the pull dropping to it’s minimum as it moves toward the new moon. It is called a fallow moon and is generally a time of rest for the plants in the garden but there is plenty to do for the gardener. Now is a great time to transplant or divide plants, compost and remove brush as well as pruning for retarding growth. You can also apply side dressings and composts at this time. You will actually find that pulling weeds is much easier after a full moon and lawns mowed will grow back at a slower pace.

If you want to learn more about the subtleties of gardening by the moon or simply want a calendar of planting dates without any research or physics required – pick up a copy of the Farmers almanac. And for a strangely modern twist on this ancient practice download the application for use on a mobile devise.

April gardening tips

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Weather can be highly variable in April. We can get beautiful sunny warm days followed by a drop back into the depths of winter. But for hardy gardeners there is no bad weather just bad outerwear. And this is the funnest time of year to add new perennials to your landscape. The sun drawing out those Spring blossoms, the gardens seem to be overflowing with new growth and the air is thick with the smell of earth and the song of birds. So let’s get out and garden!

Maintenance
If you have a profusion of new growth and are trying to control the size of any flowering shrubs or vines like camellias or clematis – after their bloom is a good time to prune them back to a reasonable size.
Place support rings around peonies, swallowtail columbine, and or any other perennials before they topple over with all those blooms to come.

Pests and diseases
Pests are on the rise. Control aphids before they get to your veggies, look for them on roses and in the veggies garden they might be lying in wait for the broccoli to come out.  Mix a teaspoon of dish soap in a quart bottle and spray liberally on the effected plant. If you are lucky enough to have garter snakes let them be – they feast on slugs this time of year! If spider webs appear remember that they will consume an amazing number of mosquitoes for you in the coming months.

Keep an eye out for fungal diseases to appear and treat before they get out of hand.

Weeds are planning the complete takeover of your garden so get at those dandelions before they have a tactical advantage.

Indoor plants
As summer approaches it will soon be time for all our tender plants that we have overwintered to go back out for the summer. Take your succulents, orchids or whatever rare lovely that you have kept inside and give them a good dose of love – transplant into larger containers, trim off unsightly dead growth and give them a bit of fertilizer in anticipation of moving outdoor next month.

Vegetables
Seed inside:
Tomatillos, tomatoes, asian greens, basil, cucumber, melons, pumpkins and squash.

Seed outdoor:
Arugula, beets, carrots, chives, cilantro, dill, green onions and second rounds of kale, chard, lettuces and spinach.
This is your last chance for root and cool weather crops like radishes, beets, cilantro, onions leeks and potatoes.

Starts:
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, greens of all sorts and onions.
It can be possible to put out tomatoes, and peppers now but they will need serious cover!!!

More veggie tips
Continue to harden off veggies to go outside. A cold frame or unheated porch will do the trick but if you rush this process and don’t allow plants to transition you can stunt them. We feel that it is better to avoid starting melons and beans inside as they don’t often transplant well.

Water
Think about installing a watering system now before the heat of summer, it will save you time and money while conserving a precious resource. And in the mean time remember to frequently check the moisture on new outdoor seedlings and transplants to make sure they don’t dry out I can sometimes just take a day for a new plant to wither.

Plant plant plant! Now is such a great time of year to make additions to your garden and there are so many lovelies to choose from – come visit us and see!

SLUGS!

Slugs – We all got em! Now what do we do with them.

slug AM

Slugs are sort of amazing really, most feed on leaf litter or rotting material and work to keep an ecosystem tidy and free of too much bacteria that might build up in decomposing matter. Unfortunately in our urban gardens there are very few natural predators to keep slug populations in check and the leaves they prefer are our tender young plants. While a few slugs will do a bit of damage too many slugs can devastate our veggie gardens and perennials.

If slugs are becoming a problem in your garden here are a few tips to keep them under control.

Hand pick them – I once told this to a man seeking advise and he looked at me like I was insane “with your hands?” he said turning green with disgust. But Northwest gardeners are a hardy bunch and if that is what it takes to protect your lettuce you can find the courage to do it. My grandmother Lucille gives this advise -  “Slugs love to hide under the rain downspouts, under rocks, between bricks or even the underside of large leaves” She also looks for them “near their favorite foods like hostas or salomons seal”. Slugs are nocturnal so the best time to find them is in the evening. Slugs prefer moist areas which is another reason to water the garden in the morning instead of the evening. Evening watering creates the perfect environment for them to come out and feed.

Dispose of the them – you can put them in a jar and release them far from your garden if you are feeling generous but most people just plop them in saltwater or squish them. Some people feed them to their chickens as a treat while others think it gives their eggs an “off” taste.

Bait them – If you are having a hard time finding them in the first place you can lure them into a trap by placing something enticing out for them to find and then collecting them up. Try a half citrus peel in the garden and the next morning they will be lurking underneath so you can collect them. They are also drawn to food scraps.

Trap them – You can also use traps filled with beer or cornmeal. You can purchase little traps or cut a hole in a used yogurt container. Leave enough room at the bottom to fill with the bait and cover the top with the lid to keep rain from diluting, plus with a lid you don’t need to see the resulting slug slurry. Dispose in the compost.

Natural predators – Nematodes can be purchased in little packets and watered into the surface of the soil. These parasites attack the slugs and can be effective but keep in mind that slugs are a part of the garden system. I have hear stories of people wiping out slug populations only to find them rebound with destructive force the following season.

Poison – This is a last resort please use caution as some poisons will linger in the slug and can harm birds that feed on them. Pet safe sluggo is the best option but read the labels carefully and use caution where wild animals or pets are present.

Preventative action – look for slug eggs and dispose of them. Slug eggs are a gooey little cluster of round white balls, they can be found just under the surface of the soil or stuck under leaf litter or protected under rocks, bricks or decks.

One last tip – vinegar will to help remove the impossible slime from your hands and tools.

Making the most of your vegetable garden!

garden overloadThere are several ways to make the absolute most of your vegetable garden plot. Succession planting will give you a much longer season of harvest and inter-planting will help maximize space and make room for more plants and less room for weeds and pests.

Succession planting – Cool or short season crops can be planted very early in the Spring, starting in February then rounds of successive plantings continue on into the Fall for continual harvests. During mild winters here in Portland we can have harvests of vegetables almost year round with just a little consideration of planting times.

The first step in developing a succession garden is to make a list of which vegetable you want to grow. Seed packets, gardening books or local University extension web sites will have information on the best time to plant each crop. Check for the dates to maturity, spacing needs, sun requirements and frost tolerance.

Make a planting schedule with the best dates for each plant. You can simplify the process by breaking it down into Spring, Summer and Fall plantings. Or you can go nuts with weekly additions like fast growing lettuces or radishes.

You can pick up a copy of our free planting guides at thicket for tips on what to plant when. Some examples are:
Early planting – peas, arugula, brussels sprouts, carrots, kale, broccoli, beets, greens, cilantro, onions, leeks.
Midseason planting – beans, corn, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, melons
Late planting – Beet, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chive, collard, endive, kale, shallots, fava, garlic.

Interplanting
Interplanting is a great way to make more room in your garden. The process involves planting crops in the same place at the same time.  Many plants can thrive in much tighter quarters that the seed packet suggests as long as you have an understanding of the plants needs and growth cycle. And pests are usually crop specific so mixing up plant families in the garden can help keep them at bay.

Staggering harvest time is a simple process. You might plant a very quickly growing radish, beet or arugula in front of something like a pepper or tomato which will take much longer to mature. You will harvest the fast crops by the time the slow crops need all that space.

Light requirements vary from plant to plant. Lettuces, spinach and celery need less light so place them behind taller crops like tomatoes, peppers or beans.

Nutrient needs can also vary. You can plan your garden so that heavy feeders are grouped together for easy fertilization. Examples are broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, squash and tomato.

Root depth can also be a consideration. Shallow rooted veggies like greens, alliums and radishes wont compete as much for water and nutrients if planted with deep rooted beans, squash, pumpkins or tomatoes.

Compact plantings of lettuces, greens, onions and beets will produce to many plants in one row but you can thin the plants and eat them as micro greens while you are waiting for the rest to reach maturity.

Happy planning and happy eating!

Friends of Zenger Farm

SpringforZenger_Logo

Spring4Zenger_poster

We couldn’t be more excited to be supporting local nonprofit Zenger Farm during their Spring for Zenger fundraiser this year. Shop at Thicket on March 29th and we will donate a portion of your bill to supporting increased access to good food for all Portlanders. Check out the other great local businesses participating in Spring for Zenger March 29 – 31 by clicking here http://zengerfarm.org/index.php?page=spring-for-zenger

Starting seeds indoors

photoStating seeds can be a little intimidating at first but once you get started it can be a wonderful addiction.
Here are a few tips to get you started:

Timing is everything! After you have chosen the coolest seeds to start indoors be sure to check the dates to maturity, you don’t want your seeds to germinate and grow quickly and then have it be too cold outside to transplant them in the garden. Making a calendar is a great idea – check out these links to seed starting charts http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/seed-starting-chart. Farmers almanac 2014 Best Spring dates for seeds http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/OR/Portland.

Light is one of the most important elements in starting seeds indoors.  Seedlings that don’t get enough light will be leggy and weak and likely only survive to about 3 inches tall and then shrivel. If you have a good southern facing window you may not need additional lighting but everyone else should consider using a grow light. Light bulbs will fade over time and should be replaced annually for best results.

Temperature is also an important factor, if seeds are too chilly they might not ever emerge let alone thrive. Seed starting heat mats are available commercially and while they can really help the process they are not completely necessary as long as you monitor the temp. Seeds placed right in a window may get to cold from the drafts. Check seed packages for specific temp and light requirements.

Soil is also a big consideration. A seed starting mix is best as it will be a very light composition of peat-lite and will be easy for tender young plants to push through. Seed starting mixes also usually contain a very mellow amount of fertilizer just right for young plants. Regular garden soil isn’t the best option as it will contain lots of organisms and bacteria that could harm tender new plants.

Containers should always be clean and sterilized before use. You can use last seasons plastic pots, pop out trays, flats or even used plastic food containers like yogurt or hummus tubs just be sure to thoroughly clean them before reuse. Poke holes in the bottom for good drainage. Peat pots are an easy way to go as they have a specially formulated seed composite and you can plop the whole thing in the garden when ready to transplant. You can also make paper pots yourself.

Fill container about three quarters full with your soil medium. Leave enough room at the top so water can fill and drain into the soil without running over the sides (this will help you be sure to water each pot evenly) Check the seed package for desired depth.

Water is essential when starting seeds. Make sure the soil in your containers is quite moist all the way to the bottom. Invisible dry pockets can form under the surface of new soil so its easier to pre – mix the soil with water in a bowl before filling containers. You don’t want the soil to be soggy but you also don’t want it to be at all dry. Take a clump up in your hands and lightly squeeze to remove any dripping excess before filling. Check moisture frequently and don’t let them dry out at all, a plastic or glass cover helps keep the moisture in.

Seedlings cannot be allowed to dry out but they are also very sensitive to damping off, a fungal disease which can become a problem if the soil is too wet. Keep your pots moist but never soggy and remove coverings once the seedlings begin to develop. Another thing that can help is to put a very small oscillating fan on the seedlings. This will keep air flow moving around the seeds and also forces the little plants to develop strong stalks but it can also dry them out so watch the water! Misters can supply just the right amount of water to the soil but you don’t want to leave leaves wet and susceptible to fungal disease especially in the evening.

Hardening off is so important! Tender seedlings need time to adjust from perfect indoor to harsh outdoor conditions. Place seedlings in a protected outdoor location. You want to shelter them from winds, hard rains and especially direct sunlight which can burn them. Start out with an hour or so a day and gradually work up to more time each day. A week generally gives them the right amount of time to adjust before being planted directly outdoors.

Fertilizers should be used cautiously in the beginning. You new plants need food to grow but too much can do more harm than good. There are some great seedling fertilizer mixes available just follow the directions and enjoy all those new baby plants for the garden.

March garden tips

Blooming daffs

Blooming daffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is time to plant! Frost is still a real threat so you will need to protect some tender plantings and new vegetables but most perennials purchased now will be hardened off and ready to go in the ground just as soon as you are willing to get out into the garden. Spring plantings will have a bit of time to root out and get established before the heat and stress of summer. If your soil is water-logged you can cover it with plastic or wait for a dry spell before digging but otherwise start getting those hardy plants in the ground.

Soil prep
Dig in mulch, cover crops and compost from the previous year (not bark). If you didn’t have a chance to get a layer delivered last Fall now is the time to add a nice rich compost or a little organic fertilizer to encourage all those beautiful plants popping up out of the ground.

Pests
The pests are coming out. Look for Slugs and cutworms they are voracious this time of year especially if you have tender new plantings like lettuce and other greens. (see our previous post of tips to deal with slugs). Aphids can be such a problem in the Summer – get them before they get your garden. Treat plants that were infested last year with dormant spray.

Clean up
A tidy garden can be so satisfying! Cut back grasses but leave at least a few inches so as not to damage the plant. Trim off last years faded growth and clean up accumulated yard debris to reveal all that lovely new growth.
This is a great time to get in and make design changes in the garden before plants get to developed to disturb. Some, like iris and lily clumps get so crowded that they need a bit more legroom to bloom. Divide or thin perennials that are getting to large or transplant those that need a new spot.

Vegetable gardens
Starts:
Plant out hardy greens like arugula, chard, lettuce and salad greens as well as parsley broccoli and cauliflower. Root crops such as onions, potatoes, garlic, and shallots can go out now as well.

Seed outdoors:
It’s not to late for peas but get them planted sooner rather than later or you will miss your window. Radishes, carrots, greens and cilantro can all be seeded outside now.

Seed indoors:
Start warm weather seeds indoors but check dates on seed packets and make a plan accordingly. We generally start our tomatoes, eggplants and peppers now as well as a second round of cole crops.

While you are waiting – get the veggie beds spruced up – repair damaged raised beds and add organic matter to build the soil. Some veggies are heavy feeders so rich healthy soil will make for a productive garden.

Indoors
Take cuttings of geraniums, fuchsias or any interesting tender plants you want to use to fill baskets and containers for the summer patio.

Adding Winter interest

Now is a great time to think about areas in our gardens that have been lacking interest and what additions we can make for year round beauty. Evergreens are a great option however there are so many plants that may loose their leaves in winter but still shine because of interesting bark, winter berries or because their trucks and branches form beautiful shapes that are only revealed after the leaves have fallen away.

daphne

Here are some of our favorite plants for Winter interest:

Trees
Magnolia (many varieties) – early bloomer
Catalpa bignonioides – interesting seed pods
Quercus garryana (Garry oak) – growing pattern of branches
Corylus avellana – growing pattern and bark
Daphne – (many varieties)evergreen and scented flowers
Cryptomeria japonica – interesting evergreen foliage
Acer griseum (paperbark maple) – interesting bark
Acer palmatium (coral bark maple) – interesting bark
Japanese maples of all sorts add winter interest for their interesting trunk formations.
Hamamelis (witch hazel) – early spring catkins
Stachyurus praecox (spiketail) – beautiful from and winter blooms
Camelia – many evergreen varieties that bloom in winter and early spring
Betula utilis Jacquemontii (Himalaya birch) – winter bark and growth pattern
Acer tegementosum (Snake Bark Maple) – bark
Pyracantha (Fire Thorn) – evergreen & berries
Sorbus (Mountain Ash) – berries
Magnolia laevifolia – many evergreen varieties

Shrubs and mid sized perennials
Helleborus (many varieties) – winter blooms and evergreen foliage
Cornus sanguinia – branch color
Salix species (willow) – growth formation
Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet) – winter bloomer
Chaenomeles – early bloomers
Mahonia – evergreen
Heuchera – evergreen and early bloomer
Huecherella – evergreen and early bloomer
Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’ (Gold Thread Cypress) – evergreen
Viburnum bodnatense ‘Pink Dawn’ – bloomer
Tasmannia lanceolata (Pepper bush) – foliage
Arctostaphylos bakeri ‘Louis Edmunds’ – bark

Vines
Clematis cirrhosa – blooms
Acinidia (kiwi) – growing pattern

Groundcovers
Viola – blooms
Succulents – many varieties
Arctostaphylos uva ursi (Kinnikinnick) – evergreen
Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen) – evergreen

Bulbs
Cyclamen coun (winter cyclamen) – winter blooms
Galanthus elwesii (snowdrop) – early Spring blooms
Leucojum vernum – early Spring blooms
Anemone blana and cultivars – early blooms
Narcissus – many varieties – blooms
Crocus many varieties – blooms

Grasses
Calamagrostis X acutiflora – year round interest
Carex (sedge – many varieties) – evergreen
Miscanthus sinensis (and varieties)  – year round interest

Garden terminology gleaned from words past to inspire gardens to come.

It is still to cold do do much out in the garden so I was compiling a list of garden terminology when I stumbled upon a fantastic web site across the pond. They have an exhaustive list of fascinating garden terminology – here are a few of my favorites but check out http://www.gardenvisit.com/garden_glossary to get the whole shebang as well as links to fabulous gardens, tips on growing and purveyors of all things gardeny.

photo

Abreuvoir – A drinking place for animals and often treated as a garden ornament.

Adonis gardens – Adonis was the nourisher of seeds in Greek mythology. This led to the making of ‘Adonis gardens’ which were small gardens in terra-cotta pots. They were placed outside Adonis temples during festivals.

Allée  – An Allée is a walk bordered with trees or clipped hedges.

Belvedere – The word Belvedere derives from Italian roots (bel= beautiful and vedere=see) and describes a place from which one can see a beautiful view. This place can be a building, usually with open sides.

Bosquet – is a French word, used for a block of trees and shrubs pierced by paths that may contain elaborate features such as sculpture or fountains hidden in the trees.

Bower – A Bower is a garden seat protected by foliage.

Cascade – From the Latin ‘cascare’, to fall, the word Cascade came into use for a small waterfall in a garden.

Chadar is a water chute or cascade in an Indian garden (the word means ‘sheet’ or ‘shawl’)

Clairvoie  – A Clairvoie is a gate, fence or grille placed in an otherwise solid barrier to provide a ‘clear view’ of the outside scenery.

Cloister – derives from the Latin clostrum= lock. It described the part of a monastery to which the public had no access and then became used to describe a rectangular lawn surrounded by a covered walk.

Clump – A Clump is a group of trees (or shrubs) planted together to form a group. The word ‘clumping’ was used in the eighteenth century to describe the practice of converting an avenue into clumps.

Conceit – The noun Conceit is derived from the verb ‘to conceive’ and used for a fanciful idea or an ornamental structure with little or no use.

Conservatory – A Conservatory is a glazed structure for conserving (protecting) plants from cold weather. Originally the term was also used for non-glazed structures used for keeping food such as apples.

Coppice – From a French word meaning ‘to cut’, a coppice is a wood maintained by periodical cutting. It the middle ages this was an important means of growing wood for fencing and kindling.

Coronary Garden – A garden used to grow flowers which could be used for wreaths and garlands.

Crinkle-crankle – is a serpentine wall – which crinkles and crankles.

Dovecote  – A Dovecote is a building in which doves are kept.

Dreamstone – Dreamstone, in Chinese garden design, is a a translucent stone in which mineral deposits have formed pictures of woods and water (also known as a Journeying Stone similar to the picture jaspar in the U.S). Dreamstones were hung from pavilion walls or set into the backs of chairs.

Eurythmy – derives the Greek eu (meaning good) and rhuthmos (meaning proportion or rhythm). According to Vitruvius ‘good rhythm’ is one of the aims of design.

Ferme Ornee, from the French=ornamented farm, and used, mainly in France and England, to describe a farm which is used primarily as an aesthetic ornamentation as opposed to a working farm.

Fernery – A Fernery is a collection of ferns, either indoors or outdoors.

Flowery mead – A Flowery Mead is a medieval name for piece of land let un-plouged and so overtaken with wild flowers.

Genius of the place – The genius of the place (Italian ‘genius locii’) can be defined as ‘the spirit of the place’. Alexander Pope said she must be ‘consulted’ in the course of making a design. ‘Consult the genius of the place’ is one of the most widely-supported principles in garden and landscape design.

Giardino Segreto  – Giardino Segreto is the Italian for ‘secret garden’. During the renaissance this described a secret enclosure within a garden.

Gloriette – In medieval gardens a gloriette was a summerhouse, often in the woods near a castle. It might be used by the ladies to take a meal while watching a hunt.

Ha-ha – A Ha-Ha is a sunk wall with a ditch outside, used so that the garden boundary is not visible from within.

Hermitage  – A Hermitage is a garden building which looks suited to use by a hermit, usually with a rustic appearance.

Karesansui – is a Japanese Dry Garden, with water represented by sand or gravel. Dry Gardena are increasingly described as a Zen Garden.

Labyrinth – is a network of paths designed as a puzzle to entertain visitors

Maze – A Maze is a network of paths designed as a puzzle. Garden mazes can be designed using turf, paving, hedges or other materials. The idea is ancient.

Moon gate – A Moon Gate is circular aperture in a wall. The idea comes from Chinese gardens.

Mossery – A Mossery is a collection of mosses.

Moss house – A Moss House is a garden building with moss pressed between the wall slats.

Natural – The Platonic axiom that ‘art should imitate nature’, which comes from Plato’s Theory of Forms, has had a profound influence on garden design. But the meaning of the term ‘nature’ has varied. Sometimes it has meant ‘the world of the forms’ and sometimes it has meant ‘the everyday world’.

Niche – A Niche is a shallow recess in a wall or hedge, for placing a sculpture or for decorative effect.

Niwa – Niwa is the Japanese word for ‘garden’. The word derives derives from ni, clay, and ha, place. In the Chronicle of Japan a niwa was a place purified for worship of the gods.

Nymphaeum  – A Nymphaeum is a place for nymphs. A nymph was a semi-divine maiden. They were believed to like water, caves, rivers and fountains.

Orangery  – An Orangery is a conservatory made for the cultivation of oranges. They were common in renaissance and baroque gardens.

Pall-mall (from the French Paille-maille, and originally from the Italian pallamaglio, palla, ball, and maglio, mallet) is a game, rather like croquet, which led to the making of ‘malls’ in parks and gardens. This was the original use of The Mall in London.

Paradise – Paradise was originally a Persian name (paradeisos) for a park stocked with exotic animals, the word Paradise was used by the Greeks to mean ‘an ideal place’.

Parterre (From the French par=on + terre=ground). A level space, usually rectangular and on a terrace near a house, laid out in decorative pattern using plants and gravels.

Patio  – is a Spanish word for an arcaded or colonnaded courtyard. It is now applied to any small paved area in a garden.

Pavilion – The word Pavilion derives from the Latin papilio=butterfly. Originally the word meant a tent, in gardens it is used for an airy and light building.

Penjing – is the Chinese word for a tray garden (the word came into Japanese as ‘bonsai’).

Physic garden – A Physic Garden is a special garden used for growing medicinal plants.

Pinery – A Pinery is conservatory for growing pineapples.

Pinetum  – A Pinetum is a collection of coniferous trees.

Piscina – A piscina is a stone basin used as a fish-pond or a bathing-pond.

Pleasance (or Pleasuance) is a pleasure ground attached to a castle or mansion, usually outside the fortifications.

Pomarium  – Pomarium is a medieval term for an apple orchard.

Potager – Potager is the French word for a vegetable garden.

Privy garden – Privy means ‘private’ and thus a private garden, usually made for the sole use of a king or queen.

Rill  – is a small water course.

Rocaille -  is rockwork, shellwork or pebblework.

Rock garden – A Rock Garden is a place for growing alpine plants.

Roji – A Roji is a ‘dewy path’ to a tea house in a Japanese garden

Root House  – A root house is a garden building made with roots, trunks, stumps, branches and other parts of trees.

Rosarium  – is a rose garden, often circular.

Sacred grove – In Ancient Egypt, Sacred Groves were placed within temple compounds. In Homeric Greece they were places of resort, outside citadels, often dedicated to specific gods and associated with a fresh spring or grotto. In Classical Greece, sacred groves were used for physical and intellectual exercise. They became academies, lyceums and gymnasia.

Shakkei – is borrowed scenery (as in a mountain) in a Japanese garden.

Stroll garden – A Stroll Garden is a Japanese garden planned to reveal a sequence of views as the the visitor strolls along the path.

Theatre derives from the Greek theaomai=to behold). In gardens a theatre can be an a place see a theatrical performance or place which is like the set for a play.

Topiary – describes a shape made by clipping plants. The practice was popular in Roman gardens and revived with the renaissance.

Torii – A Torii is a gateway at the entrance to a Japanese Shinto shrine, and in other derivative locations, sometimes in gardens.

Tortoise island – The tale of islands supported by tortorises (the Isles of the Immortals) came from China and led to the making of islands with rocks representing tortorises in Japanese gardens

Treillage – is elaborate trellis-work, used to support plants in gardens.

Wilderness – A Wilderness is a wood, kept for pleasure, with walks.

Winter garden – A Winter Garden is an outdoor area used for winter-flowering plants.

Yuan – Yuan is the Chinese word for ‘garden’. Originally, a ‘yuan’ was an imperial hunting park, bounded by a mud wall.

 
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