French Gardening Vocabulary

In today’s article we we’ll take a look at the French vocabulary connected to gardens - « les jardins », and gardening - « le jardinage ».

The article is for those who are keen on gardening – « des adeptes du jardinage », those who have green fingers – « ceux qui ont la main verte ».

It is also for those who are generally interested in horticulture – «l' horticulture » - plants - « les plantes », trees - « les arbres » and flowers - «les fleurs », as well as kitchen gardens - « les jardins potagers » for growing fruit – « les fruits », herbs - « les herbes », and vegetables – « les légumes».

An overview of French gardening vocabulary

The words below are all linked to the French word for garden – « le Jardin. »

« Jardiner » is a group 1 verb. It means to do the gardening.

Like many English people in recent years, the French have become increasingly keen on gardening. It has become one of the main pastimes for French men and women alike.

On one hand, people are eager to enhance the beauty of their gardens by planting trees - « les arbres », shrubs – « les arbustes », and flowers – « les fleurs », on the other hand, people are also proud to grow their own organic fruit and vegetables – « les fruits et les légumes biologiques » (this adjective is often reduced to “bio” ), due to the increase in eco-awareness and healthier food options.

So where should we begin? First, a visit to the garden centre – « une jardinerie », is essential. Most medium-sized towns have at least one garden centre.

Larger cities usually have huge “hypermarket” style garden centre chains which have an enormous choice of indoor plants – « des plantes d’intérieur » and outdoor plants – « des plantes d’extérieur », and flowers.

They also sell garden/patio furniture – « des meubles de Jardin », greenhouses – « des serres », barbecues – « des barbecues », fertilizers – « des engrais, » compost – « le composte », potting soil - « du terreau », and various decorations and flowerpots – « des pots », etc.

A visit to a tree nursery - « une pépinière », for buying trees - « les arbres », shrubs -« les arbustes », and bushes – « les buissons », could also be an option. Vegetables plants and flowers can also be found at some open-air markets – « les marchés en plein air ».

Many flowers, fruit and vegetables can be grown from seed – « des graines ». Here are some common examples:

Names of Flowers in French:

Some also have similar or the same names : lupins - des lupins – sunflowers – des tournesols (literally ‘turn towards the sun’), Nigella – des nigelles, and cosmos – des cosmos.

French vocabulary for common herbs:

French vocabulary for common vegetables:

Some flowers and vegetables are also grown from bulbs – des bulbes, or des oignons or tubulars – les tubulaires.

Here is a selection:

Vegetables and herbs grown with bulbs or tubulars:

Tree names in French

A keen gardener might also a have an orchard - « un verger », full of fruit trees – «des arbres fruitiers ». In French, many fruit trees take the name of the fruit and add ‘ier’ or ‘er

For example: an apple tree – «un pommier ». (Pomme – apple + ‘ier’). Here are some other examples:

The same thing applies to some nut trees and dried fruit trees, for example:

Other common garden trees include:

Many people also have evergreen trees like spruce – «l’épicea », conifers – «des conifères », and various pine trees («des pins », like des «pins parasol » – umbrella pines and des «pins corses » - Corsican pines) as well as sapin - Christmas trees, in addition to «des chênes liège » – cork trees.

Here is some French vocabulary which is related to “trees”:

French plants for each season

Obviously, when talking about flowers and ornamental shrubs, bushes and smaller trees, the seasons – les saisons have their part to play.

In the spring – au printemps – and summer (l’été) garden centres (les jardineries) are packed with a variety of flowering plants and shrubs, for planting in flower beds - des parterres/or des massifs), in window-boxes - des jardinières or hanging baskets - des paniers suspendus.

Many flowers for window-boxes or patio, and hanging baskets retain the latin name in both French and English, please find a selection below:

But there are also these pretty names: Belle de jour – morning glory, les impatiens – busy lizzies, all types of marguerites (daisies).

On balconies – des balcons, or terraces – des terrasses, many people also grow a wide variety of succulents - des plantes grasses, cacti - des cactus, grasses – les graminées.

In terms of ornamental flowers and shrubs, hardly any French garden would be without:

In spring:

In summer:

Some more French gardening vocabulary

Every keen gardener likes to keep their grass (l’herbe) and flower beds weed-free, so it’s necessary to eliminate weeds (des mauvaises herbes) or do the weeding (faire le désherbage) the verb to weed is: désherber.

Some common weed names are listed below :

Depending on the quality of grass you can call it grass – « l’herbe » – or the lawn – « la pelouse » or « le gazon ».

In summer, it’s obviously important to cut the grass – « couper l’herbe » or mow the lawn – « tondre le gazon/pelouse », you can do that with a lawnmower – « une tondeuse à gazon » or for bigger areas « un tracteur tondeuse » – a ride-on mower.

French terms for different gardening tools

To look after the garden, it’s necessary to have a host of tools for all the various jobs there are to do, here is a list of some of the most common ones:

A gardener also needs:

A gardener stores all his/her tools (outils), wheelbarrow (brouette) and lawnmower (tondeuse) in a garden shed – une cabane de Jardin or in a garage - le garage.

A great number of people also have water features like fountains - les fontaines, garden ponds or pools – des bassins – notice that we say bassin in a garden but étang when the pond is natural and not man-made like it would be in a garden, a well – un puits, which can be an ornamental well or a working well, which is extremely useful for watering l’arrosage.

Many people also have swimming-pools in their gardens today (une piscine) which can be hors-sol (above the ground) or entérée/creusée – a dug-in pool, decking - des caillebotis and plants are often used to decorate the pool area.

The last section of this article is dedicated to roses.

La rose is the name for the flower itself. Le rosier is the word used for the rose bush. The wood (rosewood) is called le bois de rose. Like all flowers, roses have petals (les pétales) and a stem (une tige) but also thorns (les épines).

From steeping rose petals in water we obtain rosewater – l’ eau de rose. Rose is also a popular girl’s name. Notice that in the south of France, it is pronounced: [roz], whereas in the other regions it is pronounced [rohz].

Roses can be fragrant (des roses parfumées) or odourless (des roses non-parfumées).

Les rosiers – rose bushes can come in various shapes and sizes.

For patios (les patios), terraces (des terrasses) and balconies (les balcons), we can choose des rosiers grimpants – climbing roses, or des rosiers sur tige – a rose planted in a pot (dans un pot/cachepot) on a stem, miniature roses - des roses miniatures).

In the rest of the garden, any type of rose. Most varieties are available in France, including many English ones.

We hope this article will help you to enjoy gardening in France and elsewhere 😊

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