Put A Name On It!

As a scientist and a gardener, I’ve always found nomenclature to be very important. The scientific name of a living thing is full of information and not simply a tag by which they are referred. But, that is not what I want to discuss. I’m thinking more in terms of what words we choose to designate the spaces in our property.

To start, I cannot for the life of me understand why a garden is ever called a yard. A yard is for junk, trains, lumber, school, stock, barn, grave and such. A holding area. A garden is not synonymous with yard. When you hear the Y word, do you really ever envision a plot of land lush and lovely? But you do when you hear the G word. A yard does not imply a lovingly tended area but a garden definitely does. You see?

I have no doubt that what we name things matters. How we view, use and care for something is impacted by how we reference it. I’m not done. I have one other similar peeve.

Consider the deck versus terrace/patio/loggia/veranda/lanai. The deck sounds ordinary– functional and convenient. As a noun, it is also a part of a ship or a pack of cards. Not necessarily something that belongs to a garden. All the other aforementioned synonyms evoke an area distinctly designed for relaxation with a pleasing backdrop of plants and flowers. Am I right?

So, with that in mind, consider the various parts of my garden. Front garden with front porch looking on to it – an inviting, pretty place leading to the house. The espalier allée or peony walk on the side escorts you to the potager, terrace and checkerboard garden. Beyond, is the meadow that plays host to the greenhouse and tree-house. And coming up the other side one walks by the vertical garden. And there you have it. You just got a garden tour.

The alternate would be – front yard, side path, vegetable/herb plot, deck, back yard, plant

wall. Which tour would you want to take?

Be honest.

Note: Enjoy a quick tour of my garden

Front garden

Espalier Allee or Peony walk

Side porch


Potager and side porch above

Potager and terrace


Checkerboard garden


Vertical garden

(c) 2022 Shobha Vanchiswar

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