So you have decided to try your hand at gardening, see if that thumb of yours is indeed green or not? You’ve got the space, you’ve got the tools, now you just need to know the ‘how-to’ of gardening. You turn to a gardening guru, or magazine, or book, or blog like aussiegreenthumb.com to find out just what to do. The only problem? These sources sometimes seem to be speaking a language other than English! How do you decipher the mess that is gardening vocabulary? You do what you are doing right now, tune in to aussiegreenthumb.com and read my gardening vocabulary section which will grow as the year goes by!
Each month I will educate you on the meaning of various words that are common in gardening circles. Now, some of these words you will read and wonder why I am defining them, but I do so simply because, at some stage, someone has either asked me OR I have asked someone else what they mean! Sometimes the words will have a common thread bringing them all together, other times they will just be a mixed bag of words that I thought it would be good to define.
To read through each of the individual articles in more detail, here you can access the entire series:
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 1 (January)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 2 (February)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 3 (March)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 4 (April)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 5 (May)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 6 (June)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 7 (July)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 8 (August)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 9 (September)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 10 (October)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Part 11 (November)
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Recap Part 1
Understanding Garden Vocabulary – Recap Part 2
So here goes.
This month the words that I will be defining are annual, biennial, perennial and deciduous. These are actually all words that most gardeners seem to understand but I’ll be honest and say they took me a long time to comprehend properly!
Annual – The word annual is normally used in the context of saying a particular plant is an ‘annual’. This basically means that the plant in question takes 1 full growing season, or one year, to go through all the life stages of plants from seed germination to death. A plant that is considered an annual does not generally live longer than 1 year, though in my opinion good annuals are ones that self reproduce and provide a brand new batch of annuals the following season.
Biennial – Again the word biennial is normally used in the context of saying a particular plant is a ‘biennial’. As is the case with many words, the meaning is in the structure of the word. The two letters ‘bi’ means 2 in latin, so a biennial plant is a plant that takes 2 growing seasons, or 2 years, to go through its lifecycle. In most cases this means the plant will grow its leaves in the first season and then its flowers and seeds in the second season, before dying at the end of its second season. Once again, hopefully a biennial would be replaced the following year by a new batch of seedlings.
Perennial – Perennial plants are plants that have a lifecycle that is longer than 2 years. Therefore most plants to my knowledge fall under the perennial category. Exactly when a perennial plant reproduces differs greatly, depending on the species. The main thing is they do not grow and die in 1 or 2 seasons, but continue to live on for multiple growing seasons.
Deciduous – A deciduous plant is one that loses its leaves during winter. Basically what this means is the plant is going into a hibernation phase, like many animals do, and will wait until the warm weather return before it uses its energy for growth. The opposite to a deciduous plant is an evergreen plant, which maintains leaves all year around. When you are driving around during autumn and see trees who’s leaves are turning yellow, orange, red or brown, you are looking at deciduous trees.
That is all for this month. Stay tuned for more ‘What’s that mean’ next month!