A Glossary of Terms

Common vs Latin botanical nomenclature

Allium, Salvia, Delphinium, Baptisia and Verbascum in the “popping” seaside garden.

I’ve used mostly common names for plants in the blog but practice the Latin as more of a personal memory challenge which I employ on my walks with Philip who has a mind like a steel trap and whips out Persicaria, Ajuga, Baptisia australis etc with unnerving ease.

Fothergilla or witch alder, with its gorgeous plumey blooms and later, blazing autumn foliage and Eryngium aka sea holly, beautiful in colour and structure provide “good value” .

Saying the names aloud has its perils.  It comes down to the emphasis on syllables which I almost always get wrong resulting in mangled pronunciations and raised eyebrows (and mock derision from my more esteemed and knowledgeable gardener friends.)

Itoh peony “Bartzella”, Asclepias incarnata or swamp milkweed and Veronicastrum getting ready to “pop”.

Until, that is, I discovered the pronunciation tool on the Missouri Botanial Garden plant resource site, a treasure trove and invaluable source of information on all things plants (https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/plantfinder/plantfindersearch.aspx). The voice behind the little loud-speaker icon is confident and instructive, no tsk-tsking, and I’ve become fond of it, in spite of the robotic inflection. 

Here, “Hair” Here!

 Allium vineale or “Hair”; Allium atropurpureum; Allium Mount Everest; Allium giganticum. Allium are good value additions to the garden because of their variety and novelty, colour and long lasting structure and form.

There is a place, especially our place, for both common and botanical nomenclature. Aralia Cordata might roll off the tongue for some but at our Port Medway gardens, I will take Spikenard (!) over that fancy-pants name any day. And if I said  Allium vineale  instead of “Hair allium”, I wouldn’t be able to look at Philip and remark “Here Hair Here” (thanks again, uncle Monty!)

Misty the cat. Rarely popping, never bonkers and always good value!

Which leads me to our Gardening Glossary. This playful description – in development – of activity in our gardens here in Port was borne of our many strolls over the past few years and has become a succinct method of  update.

A Garden Glossary : By Philip and Lynn

  • Bonkers – exuberant growth
  • Azoy – opposite of bonkers
  • Popping – bursting into flower suddenly, following ” ready to pop”.
  • Bustin’ out all over – popping big time
  • Good value – the plant/bush that keeps on giving
  • Not looking good – interchangeable with “azoy”
  • Not dead yet!  – Lynn’s response to Philip’s “Not looking good”.
  • Ships Azoy! – probably dead.

Here is a wonderful primer on botanical nomenclature which I have mentally filed under “rules are meant to be broken”.


Clematis recta or ground virginsbower, bustin’ out all over.

6 thoughts on “A Glossary of Terms”

  1. This is an unusually beautiful and witty gardening blog. The photography is gorgeous and instructive – giving the viewer a perfect picture of the specimen. Congratulations to Philip and Lynn on not only creating this wonderful blog but also for creating a stunning garden.

    1. Hi Pam, thanks for the kind words and very glad you’re enjoying the blog. Come down for a walk about sometime
      before the petals fall off!

  2. what Pam said…lol! …incredible that you have alliums and delphiniums blooming at the same time. …beautiful gardens, awesome photos and a fun blog!

    1. Hey Sylvia, thanks for this! Lots of blues and purples now. Those allium are in bloom for a long time and buttress
      any number of other plants in the garden. I bet your garden is gorgeous and wish I could see it. One summer, some time I hope! Lynn

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