Thompsons 3 Year Plant Guarantee

Garden Centre Assocciation


Basic Gardening Terms Explained

To the novice gardener everyday gardening terms such as shrub, perennial or herbaceous, probably mean nothing.

These terms and many others are used throughout garden centres on signs and plant labels to help describe plants, their type and characteristic.

We've put together some explanations of the more commonly used terms to help give you a greater understanding of them.

Getting Started - Gardening For Beginners


An alpine is a small perennial plant that's used in the fronts or borders, in rockeries, in walls, in paving and in containers.


Annuals are plants that complete their life span, from seed to death, in a single season. A Hardy Annual is sown outdoors in spring, a Half Hardy Annual is normally raised in a glass house, as it can't withstand frost, before being planted out.

Bedding Plants

Bedding plants are Annuals, Biennials or Perennials set out in autumn or spring to provide a temporary display, usually lasting the summer season.


Biennials are plants that have a life's span from seed till death in two seasons. A Hardy Biennial is sown outside in summer and will produce stems and leaves in the first season, before flowering the following season.


A climber attaches itself to or twines around an upright structure, such as a trellis, obelisk, wall, fence or other woody stemmed plants.


A plant that sheds its leaves for winter.


A plant that retains its leaves through winter.


Hardy is a term often used to describe a perennial or annual. A hardy plant is one which is not effected by frosts or cold weather.


A perennial is a non-woody plant that flowers every year, dying back over winter and re-growing the following spring. A hardy perennial will live for years in the garden.


A shrub is a plant of relatively low height that bears several woody stems at the base and lacks a single trunk.