There are far too many garden words and expressions which annoy me. So I thought I’d give myself the pleasure of ranting about some of them. And I’ll start with one that crops up a lot at this time of year =


This appears at this time of year under the guise of ‘winter interest’ and us (sorry, ‘we’) writers use it far too much from sheer inability to find anything else to say about some things. A dictionary says: “the feeling of wanting to give your attention to something or of wanting to be involved with and to discover more about something.”

I suppose that really, when the RHS refers to  Plants for Winter Interest they mean plants that we may be interested in in winter.

hellebore copyright Anne Wareham

Interested? Or, heaven forbid – bored senseless by the sight of them???

Now, I know many of us have ears which prick up at the mere mention of a plant we haven’t come across before, denoting a sudden rush of interest. But are we really interested in plants in winter? Aren’t we more likely to enjoy them if they do something nice in the cold dark season? What would be wrong with Plants for Winter Pleasure? Plants for winter beauty? Or maybe really we’re actually totally uninterested, because going out to look at them in the cold and rain is just a bit too demanding? What, exactly, are they talking about??


It’s definitely crept into use in the UK. (Surprise solutions, eh? I bet.)

I think you Americans are responsible for this one – I find it defined as “especially North American English, informal,” = meaning: annoying. Which to me is a perfectly good word and defines my feelings about the word ‘pesky’. It cropped up a lot when people discussed my book ‘Outwitting Squirrels’. Is it a word that sounds less irritating if you’re American? Better than annoying, or irritating, aggravating, infuriating? It’s good to have our vast choice of words to use, but can we abandon this particular one?


And talking of books, some time ago I published a book called The Bad Tempered Gardener, in parody of the Lloyd book ‘The Well Tempered Garden’ which in turn referred to a clavier.   And I then had the term ‘grumpy’ follow me around. By people who clearly couldn’t tell the difference between temper and mild moaning. I reserve my right to be thoroughly bad tempered and even shouty. I don’t grump. The mere idea of a grump itself makes me very bad tempered.


This is a term gardeners, or perhaps just garden writers, use when they secretly mean KILL! Or they wish they did. We aren’t supposed to kill things that plague us out there in the garden, but years of futile  attempts to deter them from chomping on our plants, leaping our fences, or digging holes in our lawns tends to make us think more along the death than deter lines.

Black Fence at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

Does it keep the deer or rabbits out??? (no)

Never mind control. A dictionary tells me it refers to “the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events”. Oh, ha ha. Apparently some people believe you can ‘control’ slugs organically . I’ll not discuss the futility of the methods they suggest will control a slug here, (see squirrels) only the idea. It would perhaps be more fruitful to discuss how to control our tempers when a newly planted hosta disappears overnight. The beer suggestion might be effective for ourselves in that regard, if useless with slugs.


A riot is a very nasty and dangerous thing. Whoever decided it was a good term to apply to a mess of colour in a garden was decidedly off colour themselves. They may perhaps be forgiven for being unaware that it is a term that would proliferate like cleavers, cropping up all over the place and strangling decent prose. It merits control of the death kind.

I know – not a riot of any kind but the nearest I could find of that thing in my photos. Wonder where it was…


This is the worst perhaps, and just maybe unavoidable. Every garden in the UK is lovely and writers and broadcasters are never tired of telling us so. No garden has the slightest demerit, and no garden merits a better description. Lovely will do. Though this site does slip one in rather surreptitiously and leaves us wondering what that article was about. 

Well, perhaps I can end this with a major over used and actually non garden phrase:

Happy New Year!

Anne Wareham portrait copyright Charles Hawes