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Bed Names of the Contemporary Gardener

By Lori Geistlinger (McGloryApril 30, 2010
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Gardeners vary in their approach to naming flower and vegetable beds. Some name by bed location, South Bed, Garage Bed, Easement Bed. Many name their plots by what is contained, Perennial Garden, White Garden, Fountain Garden. The creative name their parcels as though from an upscale estate, regardless of the meaning: Eastside Morning Garden, Vibrant Illusion Bed, Cervine Bed. For sake of simplicity and science, horticultural beds should have logical intuitive names.

Gardening picture

(Editor's Note:  This article was originally published on February 19, 2008.)

This is a call to all gardeners to unite in providing bed names with definition according to form and function.  Perhaps the Bureau of Standards could be involved.  They're the ones who say what size light bulbs have to be, and how big margarine tubs are.  Did you ever see a 12.7-oz. margarine tub?  Of course not.  Gardeners could set their own standards, so that when talking about a garden, everyone, even non-gardeners, would know what they are talking about.  The following are suggested names and definitions for what will hereby be known as the Standard of Named Beds.

California King Bed - The bed that's entirely too big for the yard.  You know the one I'm talking about.  Whether by design or the result of tearing up just a couple more feet of ground every year, it's the one whose size got totally out of hand.  Near the center is a gingerbread house with a phone catering to the needs of lost children.  Some gardeners only have this bed.

Image

  One small section of a California King Bed.  California King Beds are impossible to photograph with other than an airplane or 'copter.

Hot Bed - The flower bed with full sun plants.  For good measure and easy identification, put a few heuchera or astilbe in there to show off burned leaves.  Tell a non-gardening friend to meet you in the Hot Bed, and the friend will know what to look for, as burned leaves and thirsty plants are a sure sign of the Hot Bed. 

Water Bed - The pond and its affiliated plants.  Anyone can find this.  Be sure it has a heater.  Holes in the liner are a sure sign of a problem.

Hideaway Bed - This bed is not easily seen from the street.  Many folks refer to them under the current system as the Secret Garden.  It's not a secret if everyone knows about it.  To term it the Hideaway Bed is more accurate.  Sometimes these are found in the northwest corner of the California King Bed.

Baby Bed - The bed with newborn plants.  This bed may change over time.  It can grow and become the California King after several years, but in the beginning it's the Baby Bed.  The Baby Bed is so named for its teeny, tiny plants that everyone thinks are so cute.  We worry over their every need and wonder if they will ever grow up.

An example of a Baby Bed appears below.

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Wet Bed - A bed on your property that occasionally gets wet unintentionally.  It's always an accident.  Just when you think you've got it licked, it turns up wet again.  It can be embarrassing, but everyone understands.  You might talk to your mother about the problem though.

Canopy Bed - Bed underneath a large old shade tree.  It really is a canopy.  Look it up in Gardenology on Dave's Garden.  This name is more intuitive than Caliginous Haven Garden, which is what the creative have named it.

Twin Beds - Mirror image beds on either side of an entry way.  One side is usually showy, while the other has a more contemplative spirit to it.  The plants are the same, however, right down to the cultivar.

Double Bed - Bed of an awkward size.  This one is bigger, but not even twice the size of each of the Twin Beds.  The size is awkward, not quite big enough for two viburnums, but a little too large for just one. 

Murphy Bed - The bed where everything goes wrong.  This could either be flowers or vegetables.  Perhaps it's even the compost pile.  Anyone will be able to find it by looking for the mess.  If something can go wrong, it will.

A perfect example of a well-meaning Murphy Bed:

Image

Sick Bed - Bed full of ailing plants.  These beds develop on their own and obtain the Sick Bed name over time.  Not to be confused with Murphy Bed. 

Air Bed - Bed replete with aroids.  An Aroid is from the Araceae family, and there is a forum devoted to Aroids on Dave's Garden.  Don't ask me about them; I'm from Nebraska.  To have a bed full and not call it an Air Bed is counterintuitive.

Feather Bed - Bed designed and planted to attract birds.  Feather beds are easily recognizable by the bird feeder, of course.

Queen Bed - Bed designed to attract bees.  Everyone can easily find this bed with their eyes closed simply by listening for the low vibration of the bed's inhabitants.

Trundle Bed - The shorter of two adjoining raised beds.  These beds give the appearance of stair steps.  The shorter one looks as though it could be shoved underneath the larger one.  The short one, naturally, is the trundle bed.

The Trundle Bed is the lower bed nearest the top of this photo:

Image

The Bunk Bed appears nearest the bottom of the above photo, and is the higher of the two.

Bunk Bed - The taller of two adjoining raised beds.  This bed, usually containing annuals, is higher off the ground than any of the others.  It's so high, in fact, that the older gardener leaves its work to the younger ones.

Sofa Bed - Bed with the bench in it.  Usually there are large cushions on the bench.  Bring them in when it rains.  Wet Sofa Bed is not on the list, and is very unpleasant.

Four-Poster Bed - The garden bed in a rectangular cage.  Most often these contain vegetables.  They have four posts, one on each corner, and usually have chicken wire all around, sometimes even over the top.  

Doll Bed - Bed containing mostly dahlias. 

Truck Bed - Bed holding the outdoor grill and surrounding plantings.  The Truck Bed is nearly always eight feet in length.  Sometimes a tailgate table is included, but this item is optional.

We gardeners can easily add to the list.  What would a Flat Bed be?  A Sleigh Bed?  A Chamber Bed?  We, who are so picky about our species and cultivars, have been floundering in the bed-naming arena far too long.  Gardeners, unite!  The Bureau of Standards awaits.

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***Gracious thanks to Kim (bluekat76) for the photo of her lovely raised beds to illustrate Bunk and Trundle Beds, and to Linda Bolander (2pugdogs) for the photo above and the thumbnail photo, illustrating that she obviously knows what a flower bed is.


  About Lori Geistlinger  
Lori GeistlingerLori and her husband, Handsome Man, garden in the heart of Tornado Alley in the Midwest. She likes perennials, because if they don't come back, chances are she forgot she planted them and doesn't realize she killed them. Don't take her too seriously.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
An unexpected delight! critterologist 66 392 May 3, 2010 6:05 PM
How about... Caedi25 3 44 May 3, 2010 1:32 PM
Funny! Kat_M 0 19 Apr 30, 2010 8:07 AM
Garden Beds: Still thinking about it vossner 0 31 Apr 3, 2008 3:44 PM
Garden Bed Names Dollykat 0 25 Feb 25, 2008 3:26 PM
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