Garden Glossary


A drinking place for animals, sometimes treated as a garden ornament
The Academy was the olive grove outside Athens in which Plato set up his school of philosophy. It continued in operation for 900 years. The term was later used by the Ptolomys in Egypt, by Charlemagne in north Europe and by Muslims in Spain. Renaissance Italy saw the foundation of a new Platonic Academy in Florence, which re-established the link between philosophy and gardens.
adonis garden
Adonis was the nourisher of seeds in Greek mythology. This led to the making of 'Adonis gardens' which were small gardens in terracotta pots. They were placed outside Adonis temples during festivals.Example 1: Flowers and Adonis gardens
An alcove is a recess in a wall or hedge, often curved and often used to house a scultpure, a seat or a fountain.Example 1: Gardens in Pompeian frescoes, Example 2: Roman Renaissance gardens, Example 3: Germany in the nineteenth century
An Allée is a walk bordered with trees or clipped hedges.
alpine garden
A garden used to grow Alpine plants ( though many of them do not come from the Alps). Rocks are often used in Alpine gardens and can help to keep the roots wet and the leaves dry.Example 1: The Formal Garden Still Lives, Example 2: A Tribute To Gardening Writers
american garden
An American garden is an area of a Mixed Style garden used to grow plants from North America. Repton favoured the idea and designed American gardens for Ashridge and Woburn Abbey.
The etymology of Amphitheatre is from amphi (both, or both sides + theatron (theatre). It means a circular theatre with seating on both sides. Garden amphitheatres are made with landform, planting or stonework.Example 1: Frascati villas
The French term for the Serpentine Style of garden layout is Anglo-Chinois. The term originated with the belief that the 'English' style of garden layout was inspired by the Chinese. Walpole argued against the term.Example 1: Jardin Anglo-Chinois
An Apiary is a place where bees are kept (from the Latin apis = bee). Bee hives have been placed in gardens at least since Roman times.Example 1: German renaissance gardens
Appadana is a method of construction using a flat roof and columns (but not arches)
An Arbour us a garden shelter, usually curved and made with vegetation.Example 1: Boccaccio's tales and medieval gardens, Example 2: Tokugawa (or Edo) Period Japanese Garden Design
An Arcade is a set of arches supported by columns.Example 1: Madrid, Chenonceaux, Anet, Verneuil and Tuilleries Gardens, Example 2: Princely gardens in Germany
An Arch us a structure of wedge-shaped bricks, stones or other material, which lock together and can be supported from the sides.
Architect derives from the greek arkhos (meaning chief) and tekhne (meaning the art of doing something).
armillary sphere
An Armillary sphere is a type of spherical sundial.
art nouveau
Art nouveau was a decorative movement which reached its zenith in the period 1893-1907. The Parque Güell Barcelona (started 1900) is the most famous art nouveau garden.
Atrium (Latin) the central court of a Roman houseExample 1: Gardens in Pompeian frescoes, Example 2: Monastery Garden Plans, Example 3: Gardens in the Roman Provinces
An Automata is an Italian renaissance term for a mechanical device, usually powered by water, windpower or clockwork. The best surving examples are at Schloss Hellbrunn outside Salzburg in Austria.Example 1: Hellbrunn Garden, Salzburg, Austria
Axial is an adjective describing a design which is structured on a straight axis.Example 1: Gardens of Amboise, Blois and Gaillon, Example 2: Early Baroque gardens in Italy, Example 3: Flemish Garden drawings and paintings


back yard
Back Yard is an American term for a back garden (usually more functional than ornamental).
Bagh is the Persian word for 'garden'
A Bailey is the open area of a fortified castle. Some of the space was used for castle gardens during the middle ages.
A baluster is a short pillar with a curved outline and a balustrade is a barrier made with pillars of this type and topped with a coping or rail. The word comes from the Greek word (balustion) for a pomegranate flower which resembles the shape of a baluster.Example 1: Italian garden history, Example 2: Roman Baroque
Baoli (or Baori): a stepwell or tank, as built throughout India. The word is equivalent to hauz
The term Baroque is applied to the late Renaissance period (1600-1750) when all the arts were combined to produce dramatic effects. It is said to derive from the Portuguese word for a rough pearl.
The word Basin is used in French gardens (pronounced 'bass-an') to mean a geometrical pool of the type made in Baroque gardens.
The term Bastion comes from military architecture, meaning the projecting part of a fortification (from the Italian word 'bastire', build). In gardens it means a projecting point (usually octagonal or circular) in a walled garden.
In general use, the word Beautiful means 'possessing beauty'. In the eighteenth century the term was given a specific use (eg by Edmund Burke), in contrast with the word 'Sublime', so that Beautiful meant 'soft, gentle and smooth' while Sublime meant 'dramatic, awe-inspiring and almost frightening. Picturesque was used as an intermediate term.
bedding plant
Bedding plants are used in displays of colourful plants. Usually the plants are annual or biennial and start their life in conservatories,
A Belt is a strip of trees, usually planted to define a space or a view. The term came into use with the Serpentine Style in the eighteenth century.
The word Belvedere dervies from Italian roots (bel= beautiful and vedere=see) and describes a place from which one can see a beautiful view. This place can be a building, usually with open sides, or a defined spot (eg a curved terrace with a seat).Example 1: Florentine early-renaissance
A Berceau is a vaulted trellis, used to grow climbing plants.
Bonsai is a Japanese word (derived from the Chinese word penjing) meaning a tray garden
A Border is a long flower bed, usually beside a path a wall or a hedge.
Bosco is an Italian word, usually applied to a wood of evergreen oak (Quercus ilex) with a mysterious air. The Sacro Bosso at Bomarzo is, literally, a sacred wood - inspired by the ancient idea of making a Sacred Grove in association with an Egyptian temple.
Bosquet is a French word, used for a block of trees and shrubs pierced by paths. At Versailles the bosquets are defined by geometrical paths and many contain elaborate features (eg sculpture and fountains) hidden in the trees.
Bostan (or Bustan) is the Persian word for 'orchard' or 'fruit garden'
botanic garden
The idea of making a collection of plants is found in Egyptian and Mesopotamian gardens. In classical Greece and Rome, such plants were used for medicinal purposes. This practice was continued in the monasteries of medieval Europe and flourished anew with the scientific concerns of the renaissance. The world now has a large number of botanic gardens most of which are used for the scientific study of plants.
A Bower is a garden seat protected by foliage.
bowling green
A Bowling Green is a flat lawn for playing the game of bowls.
The adjective Brownian is used to mean 'in the style of Lancelot Brown', meaning the romantic Serpentine Style of the mid-eighteenth century.
A Burj is a fortified tower, as found in Indian gardens
From the French bouter=to bear against, and used to describe a mass of brick or masonry which resists the outward pressure of a wall, arch or vault.


Campagna is the Italian word for open country. The 'Roman campagna' is the countryside around Rome - which was painted by landscape artists (eg Claude and Poussin) and helped to give form to English gardens in the eighteenth century.
The term Canal is used in garden design to describe a long thin body of water, which is usually rectangular but may be curved.
A Capital is the crowning feature of a column (from the Latin caput=head).
carpet bedding
The nineteenth century practice of using bedding plants to create carpet-like patterns. The idea derives from the older ideas of knot gardens and parterres. At the end of the nineteenth century 'carpet bedding' became a term of abuse for annual displays of plants, but it remains popular in show gardens and public parks.
From the Latin 'cascare', to fall, the word Cascade came into use for a small waterfall in a garden (either natural or artificial).
casino and casina
Casino and Casina are diminutives of 'casa' , meaning a small house. The Spanish equivalent is 'casita'. Garden houses are often described as casinos.Example 1: Gardens of Amboise, Blois and Gaillon, Example 2: Austrian gardens and parks
A Chabutra is a sitting platform in an Indian garden (or elsewhere in an Indian town)
A Chadar is a water chute or cascade in an Indian garden (the word means 'sheet' or 'shawl')
chahar bagh
Chahar Bagh (pronounced' ch-haar-bah') describes the 'four square' plan of a Persian paradise garden. The term is used in connection with Iranian and Mughal gardens. The oldest example of a rectangular canal pattern is at Passargadae, in Iran, and the oldest example of a square garden with symmetrical crossing canals is at the Alhambra.
Chanoyu (or Cha-no-yu) is the Japanese tea ceremony, performed in a chashitsu (teahouse)
Chenar: is the oriental plane tree (Platanus orientalis)
Chhatri (or Chatri): an umbrella - and thus an umbrella-shaped pavilion in an Indian garden. Chhatris were built over funnerary sites and are common in India.
The term Chinosierie means 'imitation of Chinese' and in gardens is applied to the type of garden houses, bridges and other structures which became popular in the eighteenth century.
A Clairvoie is a gate, fence or grille placed in an otherwise solid barrier to provide a 'clear view' of the outside scenery.
The word Classic means 'of the first class' and was first applied to the civilisation of anceint Greece and Rome. It then came to include renaissance art and is now used for anything of good quality 'eg a classic left jab'.
Cloister derives from the Latin clostrum= lock. It desscribed the part of a monastery to which the public had no access and then became used to describe a rectangular lawn surrounded by a covered walk.Example 1: Augustus Caesars gardens, Example 2: Middle ages
A Clump is a group of trees (or shrubs) planted together to form a group. The word 'clumping' was used in the eighteenth century to describe the practice of converting an avenue into clumps.
coade stone
Coade Stone is a composite material made by Mrs Eleanor Coade to give the appearance of stone at a lower price. The formula was kept secret but is thought to have been based on the use of fragments of previously-fired ceramic material with a blend of clays in a firing process. It has great strength and durability.
A Colonnade is a row of columns.
A Column is a post or pillar used for support or decoration (from the Latin columna=post).
The noun Conceit is derived from the verb 'to conceive' and used for a fanciful idea (eg an ornamental structure with little or no use).
From the Latin concretus=compounded. The Romans made concrete with pozzolana and lime. The modern use of reinforced concrete began with the making of flower pots.
A Conservatory is a glazed structure for conserving (protecting) plants from cold weather. Originally the term was also used for non-glazed structures used for keeping food (eg apples).
From a French word meaning 'to cut', a coppice is a wood maintained by periodical cutting. It the middle ages this was an important means of growing wood for fencing and kindling.
corinthian order
The Corinthian Order of Architecture has bell-shaped capitals decorated with acanthus leaves.
coronary garden
A Coronary Garden is used to grow flowers which could be used for wreaths and garlands ('like a crown').
Court derives from the Latin cohors meaning a company or retinue or persons (who gathered in an enclosed place). The word thus gained a range of uses: the people associated with a king; the place in which legal judgements are given; a place in front of a palace; an enclosed rectangular space within a building. It is ironic, given this derivation, that many courtyards in twentieth century buildings are used only as lightwells.
courtyard garden
A Courtyard Garden is a rectangular space surrounded by walls or buildings. See the entries for atrium, peristyle and xystus.
crinkle-crankle wall
Crinkle-crankle is a serpentine wall - which crinkles and crankles.


Deciduous is an adjective used for a tree or shrub which sheds its leaves in winter.
deer park
A Deer Park is used for keeping deer. The idea of making hunting parks originated in Mesopotamia. Specialised deer parks were made in the middle ages.
dipping pool
A Dipping Pool has convenient access for drawing water, usually for garden use
dipping well
A Dipping well has convenient access for drawing water, often in a medieval town or monastery garden
doric order
Doric is an Order or Architecture in which the capitals have a fluted shaft and plain capital.
dovecote (doocot in scotland)
A Dovecote is a building in which doves are kept for food (eggs and meat).
Dreamstone, in Chinese garden design, is a a translucent stone in which mineral deposits have formed pictures of woods and water (also known as a Journeying Stone). Dreamstones were hung from pavilion walls or set into the backs of chairs.


In Greek mythology, Elysium is the place where the blessed go after death (the Elysian Fields). An elysium is a place of ideal happiness.
An Espalier is a fruit tree with the brances trained flat against a wall
From the French etoile=star, used to describe a point where straight walks cross (see Rondpoint and Patte d'oie)
Eurythmy derives the Greek eu (meaning good) and rhuthmos (meaning proportion or rhythm). According to Vitruvius 'good rhythm' is one of the aims of design.
The Greek word 'exedra' originally meant a building standing apart from a dwelling. Later, it was used for a hall with seating, attached to a peristyle, gymnasium, palaestra or private house. In gardens, it usually means an area with a semicircular area backed by a wall or hedge.
A plant species which is not native to the country in which it is being grown (eg a Eucalyptus tree in India or a Cactus in England) is described as being Exotic
An Eyecatcher is a distant feature, often outside the owner's propety, used to catch the eye (eg at Rousham in England).


ferme ornee
Ferme Ornee, from the French=ornamented farm, and used, mainly in England, to describe a farm which is treated aesthetically, somewhat in the manner of a garden.
A Fernery is a collection of ferns, either indoors or outdoors.
A Finial is an ornament on a column, gate pier, balustrade, wall or building (from the Latin finis=end).
flowery mead
A Flowery Mead is a medieval name for a lawn rich in wild flowers.
A Folly is a garden structure which can be seen as a folly (by its owner or by visitors) because of its appearance, cost or lack of utility (eg a sham castle, an artificial ruin or a hermit's cell).
The term Formal is applied to gardens which emphasise straight lines, right angles and circles. It makes most sense in relation to Plato's Theory of Forms and as a contrast with 'informal'.


Yard and Garden and Garth derive from the OE geard, and older languages, meaning an enclosure. Dr Johnson gave the following definition of garden: "A piece of ground, enclosed, and cultivated with extraordinary care, planted with herbs or fruit or food, or laid out for pleasure". The key point, as Johnson emphasises, is that a garden is an enclosed place.
The term Gardenesque was coined by J C Loudon to mean 'like a garden' and 'recognizable as a work of art, as distinct from a work of nature'. He recommend that when using the irregular lines of the Picturesque style, all the plants should be exotic to ensure that the garden cannot be confused with a wild place.
A gardenist is a garden designer, and the term comes from Horace Walpole (1762-71)" I have not been able to please myself with a single term that will express ground laid out on principles of natural picturesque beauty, in contradistinction to symmetrical gardens; but I am very clear that the designer of modern improvements in landscape gardens (as I will call them, for want of a happier appellation) ought by no means to bo confounded with the domestic called a gardener ; especially as a word presents itself which will distinguish the different province of designing a garden, and of superintending it when laid out. The latter will remain the gardener, the projector I should propose to denominate a gardenist.". (Vertue's Anecd. Paint. (1786) IV. 106)
garden archaeology
Garden Archaeology is the scientific study of the physical evidence of gardens recovered through the excavation.
Garten is the German word for garden
A Gazebo is a garden pavilion with a good view, often placed at the corner of a garden.
genius of the place
The genius of the place (Italian 'genius locii') can be defined as 'the spirit of the place'. Alexander Pope said she must be 'consulted' in the course of making a design. 'Consult the genius of the place' is one of the most widely-supported principles in garden and landscape design.
As described in Pliny the Younger's letters, a gestatio was an avenue set apart for exercise either on horseback on in a horse-drawn vehicle. It was generally laid out in the form of a circus (see hippodrome).
Giardino is the Italian word for garden
giardino segreto
Giardino Segreto is the Italian for 'secret garden'. During the renaissance this described a secret enclosure within a garden.
giochi d'acqua
Giochi d'acqua (Italian = 'water joke') Typically, a concealed fountain which sprayed water on unsuspecting guests in renaissance gardens.
In medieval gardens a gloriette was a summerhouse, often in the woods near a castle. It might be used by the ladies to take a meal while watching a hunt.Example 1: Belvedere Schwarzenberg Liechtenstein Schloss Hof Schonbrunn Mirabell, Example 2: Germany taste in the nineteenth century
grotto 1
Plato used the cave as an analogy to explain the nature of human understanding. The ancient Greeks were fascinated by caves. Cretan grottoes were sites of mysteries. The ancient Romans liked natural caves and also made artificial caves. The Blue Grotto and Grotta del'Arsenale, on Capri, are famous examples. Alberti recommended grottoes as garden features and they became popular during the renaissance. A room set into the ground and decorated with minerals and shells. The idea of making Garden Grottos dates from classical times and was revived during the renaissance.Example 1: Changes to Versailles
Gulistan, in Persian, means a rose garden or any flower garden
Gymnasium derives from the Greek gumnos, (meaning naked). It was a place where people exercised naked. The modern word gym derives from gymnasium.Example 1: Gymnasiums and sanctuaries


A Ha-Ha is a sunk wall with a ditch outside, used so that the garden boundary is not visible from within.Example 1: English Garden Theory and Theorists
Hauz means a stepwell or tank, as built in India and many parts of Central Asia The word is equivalent to baoli and baori
A Herbal is a book with descriptions of herbs and of their properties.
Herber is the medieval word for a planted garden (from the Latin herba=grass, or a herbaceous plant). The herber could be used for medicinal plants or flowers. Later the word came to be used for an arbour.
A Herm is a representation of a head of Hermes, rising from a columnar pedestal.
A Hermitage is a garden building which looks suited to use by a hermit, usually with a rustic appearance. Houses (eg the Ermitage outside Bayreuth) were designed like monasteries.
(Greek hippos=horse + dromos=course) In ancient Greece, a hippodrome was course for chariot racing. The word was then used by the Romans for a garden space shaped like a racing track but most likely to be used for walking.Example 1: Pliny the Younger's villas and garden letters, Example 2: Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli
Horticulture derives from the Latin hortus. It meant a 'garden' space, in contrast to an 'agricultural' space.
Hortus is the Latin word for gardenExample 1: Roman gardening, Example 2: Middle ages
hortus conclusus
Hortus conclusus is the Latin for enclosed garden


An Ichnographia is a ground-plan (from the Greek, ichno=track, graphia=drawing)
The process of converting a farm to a designed landscape was described as 'improvement' during the eighteenth century.Example 1: The Picturesque Garden
Informal is used as a contrasting term to Formal, meaning a layout not characterised by straight lines and right angles.
ionic order
The Ionic is an Order of Architecture which has slimmer columns and voluted capitals.


Jardim is the Portuguese word for garden.
Jardin is the French word for garden. Jardín with an accent on the "i" is the Spanish word for garden.


A Karesansui is a Japanese Dry Garden, with water represented by sand or gravel [note that a Dry Garden is increasingly described as a Zen Garden]
A Kiosk is a pavilion in a Islamic garden.Example 1: Islamic garden design
knot garden
A Knot Garden is a small rectangular plot with an intricate design. The were called 'knot' gardens because the patterns were based on the type of knot pattern seen in carpets.Example 1: Henry VIII and English Gardens: Hampton Court and Nonsuch, Example 2: Elizabeth I of England and gardens at Nonsuch and Theobalds, Example 3: Francis Bacon on gardens


The name comes Labyrinth comes from the maze of passages where, in Greek mythogy, Theseus had to escape from the Minotaur. In gardens it network of paths designed as a puzzle to entertain visitors.Example 1: Castle gardens in the middle ages
lion dog
A Lion Dog is a characteristic form of Buddhist and Chinese statue. The lion is a symbol of majesty and the dog is a symbol of loyalty. Buddha's teaching was described as the 'Lion's Roar' and the the Lion Dog, began as a Buddhist symbol. It was placed in temples, then outside buildings and in gardens. See Elsie P. Mitchell The Lion-Dog of Buddhist Asia(1991)
A Logia is an open-sided arcade for sitting and dining, often attached to a house.


Mahal is an Indian word for temple, as in Taj Mahal (Taj means crown)
Mali is the Indian word for gardener
A Mausoleum is a tomb, usually of fine architectural quality. The Egyptian pyramids were built as mausoleums and many rich garden-owners have made them (eg at Castle Howard).
A Maze is a network of paths designed as a puzzle. Garden mazes can be designed using turf, paving, hedges or other materials. The idea is ancient.Example 1: Castle gardens in the middle ages, Example 2: Elizabeth I of England and gardens at Nonsuch and Theobalds
A collection of wild and exotic animals. The idea appeared in Western Asia in ancient times and was common until the nineteenth century. The Wilhelmina in Stuttgart is still managed as a combined botanical garden and zoo.Example 1: The New Building in Vienna, Austria
A Mirador, from the Spanish mirar=to look, is room or tower, usually on the edge of a garden, from which there is a good view ( a mirador is similar to a Belvedere).
mixed border
A Mixed Border is a flower bed with a mix of different plants (eg herbaceous plants and shrubs).
Originally a defensive feature, moats came to valued for ornamental reasons. A canal placed round a garden for decorative reasons can also be described as a moat.
moon gate
A Moon Gate is circular aperture in a wall. The idea comes from Chinese gardens.
The adjective Moorish is used for the design style characteristic of the inhabitants of North West Africa and Southern Spain, of mixed Arab and Berber descent.
Mosaiculture is a French term for the use of bedding plants 'like a mosaic' to form patterns. The patterns could be geometrical or representational (eg butterflies).
A Mossery is a collection of mosses.
moss house
A Moss House is a garden building with moss pressed between the wall slats.
A Mount is a characteristic feature of English gardens in the Middle Ages. It is a mound, often with a summer house on top, used to provide a view out from an enclosed garden. Sometimes, a circular path led to a seat or bower on the summit.


The Platonic axiom that 'art should imitate nature', which comes from Plato's Theory of Forms, has had a profound influence on garden design. But the meaning of the term 'nature' has varied. Sometimes it has meant 'the world of the forms' and sometimes it has meant 'the everyday world'.
In the fine arts, Neoclassicism is a movement of the second half of the eighteenth century, corresponding to the Enlightenment and the Are of Reason. It arose,like the English landscape garden, as a reaction to the pomposity of the Baroque. Following the example of literary critics, art critics looked back to the glories of Rome, and then Greece, as revealing a noble simplicity and reasoned calm. The movement was encouraged by the German art historian Winckelmann and by the excavation of Pompeii and Herculaneum after 1738. In architecture, Neoclassicism led to the work of the Adam brothers in England, Ledoux in France and Jefferson in America. In music, Neoclassical refers to a twentieth century reaction to the excesses of Romanticism.
The term Neoplatonism ('New Platonism') is used for a school of philosophy which developed in the 3rd century AD. The most influential figures were Plotinus and St Augustine, both of whom were born in Roman North Africa. They took the Theory of Forms, embeded in many of Plato's books, and transformed it into a more specific theory. It came to have a major influence on religious thinking and also on what became known as the Ideal Theory of Art.
A Niche is a shallow recess in a wall or hedge, for placing a sculpture or for decorative effect.
Niwa is the Japanese word for 'garden'. The word derives derives from ni, clay, and ha, place. In the Chronicle of Japan (Nihon Shoki) a niwa was ムa place purified for worship of the godsメ.
A Nymphaeum is a place for nymphs. A nymph was a semi-divine maiden. They were believed to like water, caves, rivers and fountains.


An Obelisk is column carved from a single block of stone, with a square (or rectangular) cross-section and a pointed top. The form came from Egyptian temples.Example 1: Roman Baroque
An Orangery is a conservatory made for the cultivation of oranges. They were common in renaissance and baroque gardens.
An Orchard is a place for growing fruit trees, derived from the roots hortus+yard.
orders of architecture
The Greeks recognized three Orders in architecture: the Doric Order, the Ionic Order and the Corinthian Order. Each was a style for treating a column with its base, shaft and capital. The Doric Order has a fluted shaft and plain capital. The Ionic Order has slimmer columns and a voluted capital. The Corinthian Order has has a bell-shaped decorated with acanthus leaves.


The word Pagoda came into English from Portuguese and may derive from the Persian butkada=temple for idols (a stupa). It is now used for a sacred Chinese or Indian building, or an imitation of such a building in a garden.
Palace derives from the Latin palatium, which derives from the name of the Palatine Hill in Rome on which Augustus built his house.
Palaestra derives from the Greek palaio (meaning to wrestle) and describes a wrestling school.Example 1: Gymnasiums and sanctuaries
Pale comes from the Latin palus=stake, and means a pointed wooden stake driven into the ground to make a paling fence.
Palissade is a French term for a fence made of pales.
Pall-mall (from the French Paille-maille, and originally from the Italian pallamaglio, palla, ball, and maglio, mallet) is a game, rather like croquet, which led to the making of 'malls' in parks and gardens. This was the original use of The Mall in London.
palladian bridge
A Palladian Bridge is a roofed bridge in the style of the great renaissance archietct Andrea Palladio.
Papyrus is an aquatic plant (Cyperus papyrus) used by the Egyptians for many purposes, including the making of columns and a thick paper-like substance.
Paradise was originally a Persian name (paradeisos) for a park stocked with exotic animals, the word Paradise was used by the Greeks to mean 'an ideal place'.Example 1: Persian Gardens, Example 2: Islamic gardens in Persia (Iran)
A Park is a piece of land enclosed by an imparkment (a fence or wall). It could be woodland or pasture.
A Parterre (From the French par=on + terre=ground). A level space, usually rectangular and on a terrace near a house, laid out in decorative pattern using plants and gravels.Example 1: Frascati villas, Example 2: The garden of Vaux le Vicomte, Example 3: English Baroque Garden and Park Design
parterre de broderie
A Parterre de Broderie is a parterre with a pattern resembling embroidery.
Patio is a Spanish word for an arcaded or colonaded courtyard. It is now applied to any small paved area in a garden.
patte d'oie
A Patte d'oie, from the French 'foot of the goose': a point where straight walks radiate from a point (see Rondpoint and Etoile).
The word Pavilion derives from the Latin papilio=butterfly. Originally the word meant a tent, in gardens it is used for an airy and light building.
Pavimentum, from the Latin pavire=to ram down, is used to describe a pavement made from from pieces of stone or ceramic which have been rammed down to make walking surface. [See stabilise]
A Pedestal is a block used as a stand for a vase, an urn or a statue.
Penjing is the Chinese word for a tray garden (the word came into Japanese as 'bonsai').
Perc�e derives from French and means a walk 'pierced' through a wood.
A Peristyle is a group of columns round a courtyard, or temple, and often used to support a roof (the Greek word derives from peri=round + stilus=column)Example 1: Gymnasiums and sanctuaries
Perspective drawing is the art of delineating a solid object on a flat surface. Once the art had been perfected, during the renaissance, it was used to create perspective effects in gardens.
physic garden
A Physic Garden is a special garden used for growing medicinal plants.
piazza, plaza, place, platz
Piazza, Plaza, Place, Platz, deriving from Italian, describe a public open space surrounded by buildings.Example 1: Augustus Caesars gardens
In general use, the word Picturesque means 'suitable for making into a picture'. In the eighteenth century the term was given a specific use as an intermediate quality between Beautiful and Sublime. It meant 'rough and shaggy'.
Pier, deriving from the Latin petra=rock, means a column made with blocks of stone.
A Pinery is conservatory for growing pineapples.
A Pinetum is a collection of coniferous trees.
A Piscina is a stone basin used as a fish-pond or a bathing-pond (Latin picis=fish).Example 1: Cicero and the urbane villa, Example 2: Monastery Garden Plans
A Planter is an ornamental container for growing plants.
A Plat is a flat area (plot) of ground, usually a rectangle of grass.
pleach (or plash)
Pleaching (or Plashing) is the practice of bending and inter-twining plants. Pleached trees grow together to form a hedge on stilts.
pleasance (or pleasuance)
A Pleasance (or Pleasuance) is a pleasure ground attached to a castle or mansion, usually outside the fortifications.
A Plinth is the square base of a column or of a building.
A Poduim is a continuous projecting pedestal or speakers' platform. The word derives from the Greek podion, meaning a little foot.
A Pollard is a tree that has been cut 2-3 metres above the ground.
Pomarium is a medieval term for an apple orchard.Example 1: Middle ages
A Portico is a colonaded entrance space (doorway).Example 1: Cicero and the urbane villa
Potager is the French word for a vegetable garden.
Praeneste was a Roman town (now called Palestrina) 38 km from Rome. It had a series of great terraces linked by ramps and inspired later designers to make terraces (often arcaded).
privy garden
Privy means 'private' and thus a private garden, usually made for the sole use of a king or queen.Example 1: Henry VIII and English Gardens: Hampton Court and Nonsuch
A Promenade is a public walk.
A Prospect is a view. Architects and garden designers debated the importance of 'prospect and aspect' in placing a building (eg is it better to have a sunny place to sit, or a place with a good view?)
public park
A Public park is a piece of land provided for public recreation, sometimes defined as a such a piece of land which is also owned by the public and designed for recreational use.
Pulhamite is a reconstituted stone devised by James Pulham in the 1840s. It was used to make artificial rocks.
Pumice is an igneous rock derived from lava. It is light and porous. Pumice was used as a building stone by the Romans and has been much-used in making grottos because it favour the growth of plants.Example 1: Greek contact with Eastern gardens
A Pyramid is a pointed form with square base. Stone pyramids, topiary pyramids and turf pyramids have been used in garden design.


A Quincunx is planting pattern with five points (four to mark a square and one to mark the centre point).Example 1: Garden writing: Rabelais, Boyceau, Mollet


Renaissance derives from the French for 're-birth' and is used for the re-introduction of classic Greek and Roman designs in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
A Rill is a small water course.
Rocaille is rockwork, shellwork or pebblework.
rock garden
A Rock Garden is a place for growing mountain plants (eg from the Alps and Himalayas).
A Roji is a 'dewy path' to a tea house in a Japanese garden
Romanticism shows itself in the artist's attitude of mind and choice of subject. It entered the language of art criticism in the eighteenth century (and has since become more widely applied). The word derives from the from the Romances of the Middle Ages, which were written in Romance languages (ie languages, like French) deriving from Latin.. They told of chivalrous deeds in 'romantic' settings. By the late-eighteenth century 'romantic' was being used as a term which contrasted with 'classical'. Nicholas Pevsner argued that the 'irregularity' which affected English gardens in the first quarter of the eighteenth was the first breath of romanticism on European art. Other historians talk of the whole eighteenth century as a 'pre-romantic' period in contrast with the full-blown romanticism of the nineteenth century. Ruined temples beame more significant than new temples because they had a greater affect on the viewer's attitude of mind, suggesting the passage of time, human frailty and heroic deeds in ancient times.
A Rondpoint is a circular area where avenues meet (eg in a Baroque garden).
root house
A Root House is a garden building made with roots, trunks, stumps, branches and other parts of trees.
A Rosarium is a rose garden, often circular.
A Rotunda is a round building.Example 1: Roman gardens and Gothic invaders, Example 2: Gardens in Middle Germany (2)
Rustication is stonework with roughened surfaces and recessed joints.


sacred grove
In Ancient Egypt, Sacred Groves were placed within temple compounds. In Homeric Greece they were places of resort, outside citadels, often dedicated to specific gods and associated with a fresh spring or grotto. In Classical Greece, sacred groves were used for physical and intellectual exercise. They became academies, lyceums and gymnasia.
Shakkei is borrowed scenery (eg a mountain) in a Japanese garden.
Sharawadgi is a word of uncertain origin, used in connection with the supposed Chinese influence on irregularity in early-eighteenth century gardens. Sir William Temple wrote that "The Chineses scorn this way of planting, and say, a boy, that can tell an hundred, may plant walks of trees in straight lines, and over-against one another, and to what length and extent he pleases. But their greatest reach of imagination is employed in contriving figures, where the beauty shall be great, and strike the eye, but without any order or disposition of parts that shall be commonly or easily observed: and, though we have hardly any notion of this sort of beauty, yet they have a particular word to express it, and, where they find it hit their eye at first sight, they say the sharawadgi is fine or is admirable, or any such expression of esteem." Ciaran Murray (Journal of the Garden History Society Vol 26 No.2 Winter 1998) argues that Sharawadgi derives from 'the Japanese sorowaji: which, in sound and sense - 'not being regular' - would correspond to Temple's word'. Murray makes a good case for (1) Temple having learned about Japanese gardens from staff of the Dutch East India Company he had met in Holland (2) having a broad concept of 'Cathay' which embraced the culture of China and Japan
Shin, gyo and so are terms (derived from calligraphy) and used to describe, respectively, a formal, semiformal and informal style of Japanese garden design
Shinden-zukuri is the Sleeping Hall (Shinden) Style (Zukuri) of laying out a Japanese garden during the Heian period.
A Shoin os a study with a low writing desk. The shoin can either be a room in a house of a separate building in a garden.
Shoin-zukuri is the study (shoin) style (zukuri) style of laying out a Japanese garden
Stabilis�e, pronounced 'stabil-ezay', the word is used to describe a type of pavement, used in French parks and gardens, formed by ramming gravel or broken stone (see Pavimentum).
A Stewpond is a fishpond in a monastery garden.
A Stoa is a portico or detached colonnade.
stroll garden
A Stroll Garden is a Japanese garden planned to reveal a sequence of views as the the visitor strolls along the path.
In general use, the word Sublime means 'of exalted status'. In the eighteenth century the term was given a specific use (eg by Edmund Burke), in contrast with the word Beautiful (meaning 'soft, gentle and smooth') so that Sublime meant 'dramatic, awe-inspiring and almost frightening.' Picturesque was used as an intermediate term.
A Sundial is a device which uses the sun to tell the time, much-used as a garden ornament.


Terrace derives from the Latin terre=earth and describes a flat area of earth, often supported by a retaining wall.
Terracotta, from the Latin for earth+burnt, is the traditional material for flowerpots and tiles and also describes their characteristic colour.Example 1: Roman Renaissance gardens
Theatre derives from the Greek theaomai=to behold). In gardens a theatre can be an a place see a theatrical performance or place which is like the set for a play.
Topiary describes a shape made by clipping plants. The practice was popular in Roman gardens and revived with the renaissance.Example 1: Renaissance Gardens in Northern Italy, Example 2: The wild garden
A Torii is a gateway at the entrance to a Japanese Shinto shrine, and in other derivative locations, sometimes in gardens.
tortoise island
The tale of islands supported by tortorises (the Isles of the Immortals) came from China and led to the making of islands with rocks representing tortorises in Japanese gardens
Treillage is elaborate trellis-work, used to support plants in gardens.
A Trellis is a lattice for the support of climbing plants.Example 1: Gardens of Amboise, Blois and Gaillon
A Triclinium is a Roman dining room with couches on three sides (from the Greek for 'three couches')Example 1: Pliny the Younger's villas and garden letters
trompe l'oeil
A Trompe l'oeil is an illusion which 'deceives the eye' (eg a wall-painting which resembles a real garden feature).
Tufa is a soft volcanic stone, used in making grottos.
Tuin is the Dutch word for garden.


An Urn is a vase, originally used for storing the ashes of a cremated body. Empty urns have been popular garden ornaments.


A Vault is an arched covering in stone or brick or other material.
Villa is the Latin word for a country estate. It refers to the land itself and to the buildings upon it.
Volute derives from the Latin voluta=scroll, and is is used for the scroll decoration in the classical Orders of European architecture.


Weathering is the process which changes a material in time. Or, in architecture, the slope on a buttress to shed rainwater.
A Wilderness is a wood, kept for pleasure, with walks.
winter garden
A Winter Garden can be either (1) an outdoor area used for winter-flowering plants, or, (2) a conservatory.
wrought iron
Wrought Iron is iron which has been worked ('wrought') by hammering on a forge (though the word is often used for gates etc made by bending mild steel bars).


Xystus derives from the Greek xustos, meaning smooth, and describes a place for exercise. In the gardens of Pompeii, the xystus was a place for horticulture.Example 1: Augustus Caesars gardens, Example 2: Gardens in the Roman Provinces


Yuan is the Chinese word for 'garden'. Originally, a 'yuan' was an imperial hunting park, bounded by a mud wall.


A Ziggurat is a pyramid-shaped tower.