Acanthus 'Summer Beauty'

The aim of this page, and it is probably an over ambitious one, is to gather together a collection of terms used in gardening/horticulture and explain what they mean and try to justify there use. The reason of attempting this is two fold. On the one hand it will I hope save me from repeatedly explaining the same words over again in the remainder of the site and on the other provide a general source of reference when the terms are come across elsewhere.

I have deliberately avoided using the word “complete” because lists of the sort can never be complete and some of the explanations may well contradict what you hear elsewhere. If that is the case all I can say in my defence is I will of course endeavour to check my explanations and many will be based on my profession training and experience.

Then again I am no more infallible than the next person and look forward to your feedback.


This is the process of classifying things into groups, and in biology placing them within a hieratical system of classification. It is the study of how living things fit into system of how we name them.

Trace elements

This is rather a catch all term for a very large group of chemical elements which plants need, but in very small amounts. It is very rare that adequate amounts of them are not naturally present in the soil.


A plant, larger than a shrub, with a one or occasionally 2 or more clear stems which form a trunk(s). Above the trunk is a system of branches which gradually increase over the years.


This is classification of plants below the level of species which share common characteristics but would freely interbreed with other varieties of the same species if the opportunity arose. For this reason different varieties are often separated geographically. When writing the name of a plant the variety name is written in italics or underlined, is immediately preceded by var. in normal type and this follows the species name. There tends to be a lot of confusion between variety and cultivar but the former only relates to plants which originate in the wild and the latter to plants which originate in cultivation.


A plant in the wrong place. That’s it really, any one plant can be or not be a weed depending where it’s growing, when it’s growing there and most of all who’s looking at it!

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