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Glossary

 

acid See "pH" below
acre A measure of land totaling 43,560 square feet. A square acre is 208.75 feet on each side.
Agricultural Extension Service A governmental agency that can provide you with written materials and advice on horticultural issues.   In Washington State these offices are supported and monitored by WSU, and there are extension offices around the state.  
alkaline See "pH" below
alternate Leaves that are staggered, not placed directly across from each other on the branch.
amendment  Usually referring to some form of organic material being added to the soil for the purpose of improvement.
annuals Plants whose life cycle lasts only one year, from seed to blooms to seed.
aquatic plants Plants which grow in, live in, or live on the water.
arbor A free standing structure used in the garden to support vines or climbing plants of all sorts for shade, a walkway, or just a focal point. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with pergola.
arboretum A garden with a large collection of trees and shrubs cultivated for scientific or educational purposes.
B&B Balled and burlap, a method in which plants are sold where the roots of a plant have been lifted and wrapped in burlap (sometimes plastic covered material) to keep it together until transplanted. Large trees are often usually this way, but it also works for smaller trees.
bare root Plants offered for sale which have had all of the soil removed from their roots.  Plants can only be offered for sale this way during their dormant period, so there is a limited "bare root" season.
bedding plant Plants (mainly annuals), suitable for growing in beds. Quick, colorful flowers.
berm A landscaping technique that involves creating a mound of earth.  Used to create privacy screening and/or divert water runoff.   Also a technique used when the underlying soil is of poor quality.  
biological pest control  Using living organisms such as beneficial insects or parasites to destroy garden pests
bonsai The art of growing carefully trained, dwarf plants in containers.
botanical name The Latin or "scientific" name of a plant, usually composed of two words:  the genus and the species.
broadcast A method by which seeds or fertilizer are scattering randomly to cover an area.
broadleaf A tree with leaves that are flat and thin, and generally shed annually.
bud Early stages of development of a flower or plant growth.
bulb The thickened underground storage organ of the group of perennials which includes daffodils and tulips
bush A many branched small shrub with no distinct main stems.
caliper The diameter of a tree's trunk close to the ground.  Commonly used to "size" larger trees.
canopy  The crowns of trees forming the top layer in the woods or forest.
chlorophyll The green pigment in leaves.
common name The name by which plants are known by non-experts
complete fertilizer A plant food which contains all three of the primary elements:  nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
compost An organic soil amendment resulting from the decomposition of organic matter.
compound leaf a leaf with more than one blade. All blades are attached to a single leafstem.
conifer A cone-bearing tree.
crown The head of foliage of a tree or shrub -- this is the form or shape of the tree.
cultivar Cultivated variety.
cultivate Process of breaking up the soil surface, removing weeds, and preparing for planting.
cuttings A method of propagation using sections of stems, roots or leaves.
deadheading Removing spent flowers that have already bloomed. This is done for the benefit of the plant to prevent disease, prevent seed development and will encourage more vigorous blooming and a bushier plant.
deciduous Trees that shed all their leaves each year in the Fall and are thus leafless from Fall to Spring.
dieback  A process caused by disease or pests. It is the death of the tips of branches and shoots.
dormancy The yearly cycle in a plants life when growth slows and the plant rests.
drainage  How water moves through the soil. An important factor for most plants and gardens.  In general water should move through the soil whether in a garden or in a container somewhat easily. If there is standing water create better drainage.
drip irrigation  A trickle irrigation system. Highly recommended for soaking the soil well.
drip line The circle which would exist if you drew a line below the tips of the outer most branches of a tree or plant.
erosion The wearing away of soil.
evapotranspiration The amount of water that transpires through a plants leaves combined with the amount that evaporates from the soil in which it is growing.
evergreen Trees with needles or leaves that remain alive and on the tree through the winter and into the next growing season.
exfoliate Peeling in shreds or thin layers, as bark from a tree.
fertilizer Organic or inorganic plant foods which may be either liquid or granular and are used to amend the soil in order to improve the quality or quantity of plant growth.
field grown Grown in the field, as opposed to grown in pots in greenhouses.
foundation planting Any plant that is used around a building for the purpose of improving the looks of the property.  
full shade This shade is sometimes called deep shade and is created by mature trees.
full sun Six hours or more in the direct sun during the growing season of the year.
genus  Used when naming plants. Genus is the plant equivalent of our surnames. When followed by the name of the "species" you have it's botanical name. Almost always in Latin.
germinate  The sprouting of a seed.
girdling  The choking of a tree trunk or branch by a wire, rope, or other inflexible material.  One common mistake is to not remove twine from around the trunk of a B&B tree after it has been planted.  
grade  The degree or direction of the slope of the ground.  
grafting The uniting of a short length of stem of one plant onto the root stock of a different plant. This is often done to produce a hardier or more disease resistant plant.
ground cover A group of plants usually used to cover bare earth and create a uniform appearance.
growing point The area of a plant where the new growth occurs.
growing season The period of time from the last frost date in spring to the first frost date in the fall. Vegetables especially will require a certain amount of days to maturity. Make sure your growing season in long enough.
habit The general mode of plant growth. Used to describe the overall shape of a tree.
hardening off Gradual acclimatization of a plant to colder conditions. Usually used when taking seedlings out of the greenhouse or moving outside to a cold frame or protected area.
hardiness The ability of a plant to withstand low temperatures or frost, without artificial protection.
hardiness zone See the U.S. Government's Hardiness Zone Map.  A plant can be expected to grow in the zone's temperature extremes, as determined by the lowest annual temperature. Other conditions such as moisture, soil, and wind might affect the availability of individual plants.
hardpan Compacted soil that is too hard for plants' roots to penetrate and that does not "perk" well, usually found under a layer of topsoil.  When the layer of topsoil isn't present, which is often the case in new construction, effective planting can be a real problem.    
hardscape Includes any garden feature that is not a living thing, such as birdbaths, decks, fences, trellises, benches, and patios.
healing-in Temporarily setting a plant into a shallow trench and covering the roots with soil or sawdust to provide protection until it is ready to be permanently planted.
hedge Trees, shrubs, or bushes planted relatively close together so that the branches will intertwine to provide a barrier fence for a windbreaker or privacy. Hedges can be any height or width depending on the plant material used. 
hedge row A hedge 
herbicide A chemical used to kill weeds. There are both selective and non-selective herbicides.
horticulture The art and science of gardening, both commercial and non-commercial.  
host Any plant material that will support a parasite. 
indigenos Plant species that are native to a region.
interplanting Mixing two or more plants, tall and short, for foliage difference, or combining plants that bloom at different times of the year.
invasive  The ability of a plant to spread quickly and will crowd out other plantings.
landscape fabric Also know as weed barrier.  A good solution for weeds in a garden bed.  Barriers can be a variety of materials: newspaper, plastic, porous fibers, burlap. They provide a barrier for weeds to germinate, and are often covered with mulch.  There are several varieties that can be purchased in garden centers.
leggy Tall and spindly growth, not usual to the growth habit of the plant.
lichen  A combined growing condition of algae and fungus. It looks crusty, and comes in many colors: gray, green, bluish, or browns.  Sometimes scary to look at, but almost never a problem.
limbing up Pruning off the lower limbs of trees, usually for ease of walking underneath, admitting sunlight, or highlighting the tree's trunk.
loam Good quality soil. Adequate supplies of clay, sand, and fiber must be present. Crumbly to the touch. Ideal for most gardening.
mulch Any loose material placed over the soil to control weeds and conserve soil moisture. Usually this is a coarse organic matter, such as leaves, clippings or bark, but plastic sheeting and other commercial products can also be used.
native Inherent and original to a geographic area.
native plant Any plant that occurs and grows naturally in a specific region or locality.
naturalize To plant randomly, without a pattern. The idea is to create the effect that the plants grew naturally in that space without anyone's planning.
opposite Two or three leaves that are directly across from each other on the same twig.
organic Fertilizers and chemicals that have been obtained from a source which is or has been alive. Also the general term used for a type of gardening using no chemical or synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
palmate Blades or lobes or veins of the leaf arranged like fingers on the palm of a hand.
peat moss The partially decomposed remains of various mosses. This is a good, water retentive addition to the soil, but tends to add the acidity of the soil pH.
perrenial A nonwoody plant which grows and lives for more than two-three years. Perennials usually produce one flower crop each year, lasting anywhere from a week to a month or longer.
pest Any insect or animal which is detrimental to the health and well being of plants or other animals
pH pH is a measure of the amount of lime (calcium) contained in your soil. A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is an "acid" soil, a soil pH higher than 7.0 is "alkaline" soil; with 7.0 being "neutral". Soil pH can be tested with an inexpensive test kit, and can be changed by amendments if necessary.
pruning The cutting and trimming of plants to remove dead or injured wood, or to control and direct the new growth of a plant
reforestation The planting of forested land that has been lost due to fire, logging, drought, pests, or disease to restore beauty to the landscape, provide food and habitat for wildlife, and for recreational activities.
retaining wall A wall that has been built on a slope to keep the soil from sliding or eroding.
rhizome A modified plant stem which grows horizontally, under the surface of the soil. New growth then emerges from different points of the rhizome. Bamboo and some lawn grasses are rhizome plants.
root ball The network of roots along with the attached soil, of any given plant.  This term is also used to describe the root area of a "balled & burlapped" (B&B) tree.
rootbound A condition which exists when a potted plant has outgrown its container. The roots become entangled and matted together, and the growth of the plant becomes stunted.
rooting hormone A powder of liquid growth hormone, used to promote the development of roots on a cutting.
scale Sucking insects. Usually more prevalent in milder climates. Not to be taken lightly, and need to be treated.
Shrub A woody perennial plant, usually with multiple stems, smaller than a tree
slow release fertilizer Generally a natural fertilizer that over a period of time will release its nutrients. 
soaker hose Hoses that have hundreds of mini holes to let the water out slowly and can be left on for a long period of time. 
specimen tree A tree placed so people can gain the greatest enjoyment for the color, texture, scent, or other pleasures it provides.
spurs Stubby, often sharp twigs.
staking The practice of driving a stake into the ground next to, and as a support for a plant.
tap root The main, thick root growing straight down from a plant. (not all plants have tap roots)
teeth Notches on the outer edge of a leaf.
thinning Picking out the overpopulated seedlings in any growing bed, to make a better growing condition for the rest. Also applies to more mature trees in a forest.  Thinning results in healthier growing conditions and better asthetics.  
topiary  The horticultural art of clipping and training woody plants to form geometric shapes or interesting patterns.
topsoil The top layer of native soil. This term may also apply to good quality soil sold at nurseries and garden centers.
wet feet A condition when the roots of plants are in standing water. They will eventually rot if they don't normally grow in wet conditions like aquatic plants.
wilt A plant disease. This can be caused by bacteria or fungi. 
wind break A purposeful planting of hedges and trees to protect a field, home, or garden against forceful winds, providing a shelter and preventing damage.

 

 

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