off topic, bloom / flower / back yard

Jim McKenney
Mon, 10 Feb 2014 11:57:40 PST
Peter's latest post has brought this discussion to the point I've been waiting for: a discussion of the meaning of the word "garden". 

Early twentieth century writers seemed to use the word with a keener sense of its history and etymology than we do now. To them, a garden was an enclosed space. How different the concept is now: the only enclosures which characterize most modern gardens are either of the chain link variety or of a highly metaphoric sort.  

With that early twentieth century concept in mind, most modern gardens strike me as being inside-out. I think of them as sprawl gardens, because the plantings seem to develop from the walls of the house outward until the space is filled. That's a big contrast to those sites where the house stands alone and is surrounded - at a distance and probably on the other side of a lawn - by the ornamental plantings  which in turn are bounded by a hedge or other enclosure which is part of the design and not simply a utilitarian afterthought. 

Have at it, everyone! 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, and still frozen.

On Monday, February 10, 2014 2:42 PM, Peter Taggart <> wrote:
Yes Mike,
it is a fair representation, but every time somebody in the U.S. writes
"back yard" I have a vision of rubbish bins and log piles!
I was after getting people to think about their words meaning different
things in other parts of the world. "Bloom" was the word which started the
discussion. My use of it is much more specific than the general American.
"Back yard" was a more provocative example.
As an aside, I have a feeling that the word "garden" has something to do
with "guard house", in the days of castles and fortified houses. It would,
perhaps,have been the area between the inner and outer defended walls of a
In British English, the American term "yard" would probably translate as
"curtilage". The word is more often used in legal circumstances though.
Peter (UK)

On 10 February 2014 18:28, Michael Mace <> wrote:

> > But, please, what is the U.S.A. English term for the British back
> yard????
> It occurs to me that in all of our essays on this subject (including mine),
> we haven't decided what term should be used when trying to describe this
> sort of space to an American.
> So, since there is no specific term in American English, what I recommend
> is
> that you use the generic phrase "work space."  As in, "that's my work
> space,
> where I chop wood and wash the car."

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