Understanding gardening vocabulary can be quite a tricky proposition but I hope my vocab series is helping make sense of some of the more common misunderstandings!
For this edition we will be looking at the words native, succulent, specimen plant and ground cover. And as usual there is no time like the present to get straight into it.
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
Native – The word native basically means that a plant is indigenous, or originally occurring, in the area being described. For example, Australian native plants are plants that were found living naturally in Australia, they were not imported from another country. It is however better to be more specific about a species native habitat, for a plant naturally occurring in Western Australia may never have naturally occurred in New South Wales, so it would be more truthful to call it a West Australian native. Some native plants are found all over the country they live in, others are only located in specific pockets and therefore may not grow as well in other parts of even their native country. This is why it is sometimes best to find out what plants are native to your specific area, and not just the country you are living in, when choosing native plants.
Succulent – The main feature of a plant that is called a ‘succulent’ is its ability to conserve water. Succulents normally have large, fleshy stems or leaves, specifically designed to store water so that the plant is able to survive in climates where rainfall may be small. Often times if you were to break open the stem or leaf of a succulent plant, the broken stem or leaf will ooze large amounts of water. The aloe vera plant is an example of a succulent. Many people groups world-wide rely on succulent plants for finding water in harsh conditions where rainfall is sporadic at best.
Specimen Plant – A specimen plant is basically any plant that is placed in such a position that it becomes the feature, or focus, of the garden it is placed in. As such, some plants made better specimen plants than others. An example of a relatively common specimen plant in Australia is the Australian Grass Tree.
Ground Cover – Why am I defining what the term ‘ground cover’ means? Well, strangely enough, I have been asked this question before! So for anyone that us unable to work it out, a ground cover is a plant that naturally grows…along the ground, forming a cover of the ground around its root system. Ground covers are great for filling up empty space in and around other, larger plants. They are also fantastic because they help suppress the growth of weeds by limiting the space in which weeds are able to grow. Sometimes if you really like a particular plant but think it grows too big, looking for a ground cover variety can be beneficial.