Type in what your trying to find.

Garden Design

Top 10 most annoying garden buzzwords & catchphrases

Mary Gray

Mary Gray

March 8, 2012

As it’s a New Year, it’s time to reflect and make a list! Most of these annoying garden design and gardening phrases have been around for longer than the past year, of course, but since this is my first list it’s all fair game!

Blurring the lines between indoors and out

Blurring the Lines Between Indoors and Out” 
Did America’s P. Allen Smith coin this phrase? Because he must say it at least six times per show. But it seems like I can’t get through any gardening magazine or show without encountering this gem at least once (or its variations — see #2 and #3). I don’t know about you, but unless I’ve been drinking heavily, I would find it highly disturbing to discover that the boundary between the inside and outside of my home had been blurred in any way. When I leave a room, I really need to know whether or not to bring my keys with me. I don’t want to feel like I’m in a house designed by M.C. Escher.

The outdoor room (Nicole Fournier’s InTerreArt Live Dining)

The Outdoor Room”
This one just won’t go away! Real Americans don’t have Outdoor Rooms. Real Americans have patios with some wooden or plastic furniture that gets pooped on by birds. So what’s wrong with that? Don’t put a suite of stainless steel appliances out there! Don’t hang your grandmother’s crystal chandelier from that tree limb just so you can have a magical outdoor dining experience! You are not Queen Elizabeth the Second or Alice in Wonderland!

Also, what sort of housekeeping is meant to go on in these Outdoor Rooms? Do you vacuum and dust an outdoor living room? Can you smack the dried mud off your shoes out there, or should that be done in the indoor mud-room? Is a clothesline considered an Outdoor Laundry Room? Is it okay to stick your teenagers in Outdoor Bedrooms in the far corners of the yard?

P. Allen Smith ‘Bringing the Garden Indoors’

Bringing the Garden Indoors”  AKA, “Inviting the Outdoors In.”
This used to be called “putting stuff in a vase.” I think this phrase still works, because not all garden denizens are pleasant to bring in, are they? Cut flowers: yes. Flies and squirrels: no.

Sustainable Lifestyles”
I hate the word “lifestyle”, period. But stick the word “sustainable” with it and there’s a phrase that really sticks in my craw. There is really nothing intrinsically wrong with the word “sustainable” I suppose, but it’s going the way of terms such as “green” and “eco-friendly”. Fine for a while, used selectively and sparingly, but then becoming more and more loathesome with overuse. When companies like BP start touting their practices as “sustainable” in their ads, it’s basically become a meaningless word.

(from Rose Petal Cakery)

Green” or “Eco-“ used as a prefix
See above. Green jobs. Green technology. Green energy. Green living. Eco-friendly. Eco-business.  Eco-design. Eco-monkeys. Eco-cupcakes. Eco-monkey cupcakes. See? They all start to sound the same.

Outdoor “spaces”
I hate when designers refer to rooms or areas as “spaces.” HGTV’s army of design show hosts are especially fond of saying “spaces” when they’re really just talking about rooms. As in: “This fabulous throw pillow made from the hides of sixteen free-range, sustainably slaughtered chinchillas really brightens up the space!” Ooooh, I see, it’s not the color or shape of the pillow that is so awesome, it’s the empty space around the pillow….oh yes, that’s fabulous!

Godzilla versus The Locavore

Because it sounds more like a serial killer’s nickname than a person making principled food choices.  Headline: “Another Body Found; City Terrorized by The Locavore!”. Ha-ha.

Godzilla vs. The Locavore

Abbot and Costello Meet The Locavore.

Urban chicken movement

Chicken Chat” blogs, Urban Chickens
I have a confession to make. The whole Urban Chicken Movement bothers me mostly because I want some chickens but can’t have them. This is because my spouse remembers that the chickens at his grandparents’ farm were “loud and messy” and therefore he won’t get on board with the idea. Hmph. I personally think our neighborhood could use a tad more noise and mess, but for now I’m not pushing the issue, especially since our dog would probably use chickens as chew toys anyway.

Plant combinations that put on a show

Plant combinations that put on a “show”
This one probably makes me look petty, but still. Whenever I read a rapturous description of a flower or garden “putting on a show” I can’t help but think of dinner theater: the plants are performing Oklahoma!and we’re sitting there watching them while eating cheap steak.

Overuse of the term “scape”: hardscapes, softscapes, tablescapes, meadowscapes, etc.
Again, I am very petty. I acknowledge that. I really shouldn’t let all this stuff get to me.

For my next post, I will be discussing Green Sustainable Eco-Scapes, or possibly Eco-Green Sustaina-scapes.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 years ago

Amen to all that, Mary. Let’s weed out as much gardenese pretentiousness as we can. Love your work.

8 years ago

Thanks for a good laugh Mary. Some of these terms I hadn’t heard of but I do agree with you re ‘blurring the line’ and ‘outdoor room’.