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Acid Soil

Soils with a pH value of below 7 are classed as Acidic Soils. When tested with a universal indicator solution they will give a yellow/orange/red reaction. This is caused by a high activity of hydrogen ions (H+). Ericaceous or calcifuges (lime-hating) plants are best suited to acid soils.


Award of Garden Merit

This is a mark of quality, awarded by the RHS since 1922. Awards are made annually based on the results of plant trials, judged on performance, when grown in the UK. The AGM mark identifies plants that reliably perform to an exceptional standard, giving gardeners confidence in their planting choices.

Alkaline Soil

Soils with a pH value of above 7 are classed as alkaline soils. When tested with a universal indicator solution they will give a blue reaction. This is caused by a high activity of hydroxide ions (OH). A huge variety of plants can be grown in alkaline soils, with the exclusion of ericaceous or calcifuge (lime-hating) plants, as it will cause them to suffer from chlorosis (iron deficiency).

Alpine House

The point of an alpine house is to recreate the conditions where alpine plants grow and to protect them from winter wet as watering levels can be controlled. It is a glasshouse which must have extra ventilation with both roof vents and side louvres; it is generally unheated and designed to keep plants cool.

Alpine Plant

A true alpine plant is defined by its natural habitat. It must be found growing above the tree line in mountainous regions. In horticulture, the name ‘alpine’ is often given to dwarf plants well suited to a rock garden, regardless of their origin.

Anemone Form

Single flowers with a ‘ruffle’ of smaller petals in the centre around the stamen and pistils. In a Hellebore, the nectaries of the ‘single’ flower are elongated and form ‘petaloids’. Once the flower has been pollinated, the petaloids fall off and the flower appears as a ‘single’.


Annuals complete their life cycle in a single growing season. Germinating, growing, flowering, setting seed and dying. They will not re-appear the following year unless they set seed that germinates and grows in its place.

Hardy Annual: a plant that completes its whole life cycle within a year, but whose seeds can survive sub-zero winter temperatures, and whose seedlings can endure spring frosts without damage. This allows for an earlier start to the life cycle.


The pollen-bearing structure on the male part (stamen) of a flower. Each anther is made up of a pair of small lobes, which split open to release pollen grains. The anther is usually supported by a slender filament.


Small insects that feed on plants, commonly known as greenfly, blackfly or plant lice. These pests are known as sap suckers and tend to attack new shoots and soft growth. They can weaken and stunt a plants growth, and may also spread viruses between plants.

Apical Bud

The apical bud is typically located at the end of a shoot. This is where the majority of the growth will occur.

Apical Dominance

This is a phenomenon where the central stem of the plant, usually the tallest, is dominant over the side branches. This is due to the production of auxin, a plant hormone which regulates apical dominance. The auxin inhibits the growth of the lateral buds, ensuring growth is focused at the apical bud.