Naming Your Garden

Imagine if there were no street names, no names of places, no identification of any kind...our world would be very difficult to navigate. A name is essential - it gives form, meaning, and creates a concept or image for us to attach our thoughts to.

A good place name instills good feelings, excitement or has the ability to change our perception immediately.  A flower patch can become 'Mom's Garden' and, in a wink of an eye, the rag tag assortment of flowers is a special place indeed.

"I believe in the power and mystery of naming things.... I believe in naming what's right in front of us because that is often what is most invisible. "  Eve Ensler

A name is the first step toward making the invisible, visible, toward manifesting....

If you name your idea for a screenplay, well then, there it just have to write it now....or if you name your budding business it makes it much easier to create those business cards ( that was my experience).

So, therefore, if you name a place in your yard, Sunset Corner, you are on the road to creating an intimate space bathed in golds of late day and filled with appropriate afternoon delights.

Or if you name that low spot that is always wet your 'rain garden' then the world opens up to the possibilities!  In fact, I am creating a rain garden now in a place that was a no-mans-land before - now it is filled with Blue Bunny Sedge, Cattails, Marsh Marigolds and more. The name came before the garden ever appeared.

(thanks to Monrovia for this)

Placemaking depends on a name, as any real estate developer will tell you.  And so it is in a garden.  So go ahead, brainstorm about names. Its fun and gets the brain juices flowing.

 In one of my projects I name specific plant borders - I have the Blue Border, the Hot border, and I have the Look Out Garden and the Buddha Garden. These are not grand areas but rather small spots, rich with meaning and sentiment. I have no signs but I use the names often in conversation....
You can also name areas for the time of year they look best - for example, you may have a summer garden and name it as such.

Of course, I am assuming that the name has to be descriptive but this may not be your style.  I guess you could always name your garden, 'Bob'...


  1. I do have an engraved stone at the corner of my garden that says Gatsbys Gardens. I know, it is the name of my blog, but I really don't know what came first. I have used the name long before I began writing a blog.

    Good ideas, I may think of some other names for the different "rooms" in my garden.


  2. That brings to mind the quote from Shakespeare 'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet' - suggesting that the name doesn't matter. However, Shakespeare chose the names of all of his characters with very great care, showing that he thought that names do matter.

    'Rose' brings with it a host of cultural associations. And someone, a long time ago, must have thought that was a 'good name' to use for a flower.

    As you say, names for gardens can be descriptive - rain garden; or mythological - Buddha, etc. I do like the sound of 'Garden of Aphrodite'.

    There's an industry devoted to creating abstract names for new commercial products, so that they 'sound right'.

    Most well-known gardens seem to carry the name of the place. Rather unimaginative really.

  3. I naming your garden is like naming your house. A place name with an identity unto itself seems like it needs to be earned, otherwise it just smacks of bourgeois overreach.

  4. so true, Susan in the Park - but cannot one person's 'bourgeuis overreach' be another's delight? The corner of my tiny yard with a small cast stone Buddha is my 'Buddha garden' with Japanese forest grass, leucothoe and painted fern.....the namiing is not necessary of course, but it does makes it special in my, 'earning a name' is something I am going to think about....

  5. In fact, I do have a Bob in my garden--a white-flowering crabapple I bought for $5.95 from the Shumway catalog in 1972 or 1973. I thought perhaps they had meant to name him "Bob White"?? Anyway, we now have Bob Jr, Bob III, and Bob IV scattered across the property.

    I refer to different parts of my garden by name, not that anyone else remembers what I am referring to. I have a Pear Tree Garden, surrounding a giant old Bartlett pear; a Crabtree Garden, shaded by Bob; a Peony Garden, with clematis; a Wildflower Garden also shaded by Bob; the Crescent Garden, jokingly recalling "Sissinghurst Crescent;" a Patio Garden, where we dug up a patio to make the garden; a Catmint Garden with a small hanging basket of actual catnip--they would rip the catnip our of the ground, but merely climb into the basket to sleep the somewhat chewed up plant; and The Bank, a perennial problem area, once planted with shrub roses which were most all killed in the early 1980s. All that remains of the rose bank is an eglantine and a few rosa virginiana.

    Some have said I should call my garden Catsworth, referencing both my many cats and my garden obsession (as some people think of it).

    Two new houses near us have somewhat pretentious names--I would not dream of giving a name to our old farmhouse, which was probably known for many years as "the xxxxxx place." Don't know who xxxxxx was--I only know who put in plumbing and electric power in the 1930s--and held barn dances in the vanished barn across the road. Last name was King. We've been here almost forty years, but I doubt if that has earned the place a name.

  6. I like the idea of naming a garden! I don't think that it is snobby or overreaching... just plain old fun- and isn't that what gardening is all about??

  7. 40 years ! that has earned a name - just make sure they don't call it'The Cat Lady House' or something...I def. go for 'catsworth' or 'cater familia' or ' cat acres' or more...

    YES!ChickDigtheDirt - plain old fun..couldn't have said it better myself.

  8. Once I had a chance to see what interested the neighbors--I was giving my address in a jewelry store, and the young man said, "Why I live on that road!" After a few more general pleasantries, he remarked in a conspiratorial voice, "Did you know that an OSU professor lives on our road"? Before he could comment further, I admitted to being that person. (I have noted that rude remarks about the academic "class" were common in rural Ohio).

    Crazy Cat Lady has lost its negative power in our culture of praising animal rescue work, and I still have a van sticker for the expired group that I worked for--can't get it off.

    I do like your reference to garden rooms, which I have always associated with large estates, but I see you have reduced the scale.

  9. so funny ....can't get it off...makes me laugh out loud....

  10. Oh yes, I have named our garden. The gardens within the garden have names. The buildings on the property have names and all of these names are contained on a 1/4 acre. It is easy to talk about a space when you are talking to people and try to explain where you are talking about. It makes it so much more personal too.

  11. I have bought a tiny plot of land to build a small house in Karachi. Mine is a corner plot with a small patch of green besides. This happens to be a brand new development with several small patches for green space. I have asked the developer to let me name the patch the butterfly garden. If he does in exchange I promise to sow plants that often attract butterflies. This is just one crazy old man's idea because in the country where I live we have done everything to destroy habitat for every living creature except ourselves. Naming gardens and trying to live up to their names isn't snobbery but a way to show that one's ambitions for a better world still beat in one's bosom no matter the gloom around us.


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