Bumper crop of gardening idioms for you to pick from

Gardening idiomsAfter visiting two delightful gardens last weekend – one belonging to the National Trust and a private one open under the National Gardens Scheme – I was inspired to research gardening idioms for this week’s post.

As with most idiomatic phrases in English, few gardening idioms have anything to do with things that grow in the garden or gardening activities per se.

But whether you’re a keen gardener or prefer to relax with a glass in hand admiring other people’s handiwork, hopefully you’ll discover one or two interesting new sayings amongst this bumper collection.

Blooming marvellous

A bed of roses = a situation or activity that’s comfortable or easy (often used negatively)

A late bloomer = someone who only achieves success later in life

A rose amongst thorns = someone/something nice between two not-so-pleasant people/things

A shrinking violet = a timid or shy person

A thorn in the flesh/side = a person or thing causing persistent irritation

A wallflower = an introvert who prefers to remain at the edge of social events

As busy as a bee = very busy, industrious

As fresh as a daisy = lively and attractive

Gardening idiomsEverything in the garden is rosy = there are no problems in a situation (often used in a negative context)

Flowery speech = full of lovely words but lacking in substance

The bloom is off the rose = something that’s no longer new, fresh or exciting

To come up smelling of roses = emerge from a difficult situation with one’s reputation intact

To gild the lily = decorate something that’s already ornate

To have a bee in one’s bonnet = be obsessively preoccupied with something

To nip in the bud = prevent a problem from growing worse by dealing with it an early stage

Money doesn’t grow on trees

An old chestnut = a joke, story or idea that’s become tedious because of constant repetition

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow = all big or great things start off small

To be unable to see the wood for the trees = unable to see the whole situation as focused on the details

To beat about/around the bush = go about something in a roundabout way; avoid coming to the point

To grow on trees = be plentiful or easily obtained (usually used negatively)

Touch wood (or knock on wood) = words spoken to avoid bad luck, usually accompanied by the speaker tapping on something wooden

Up a gum tree = stuck in a difficult or embarrassing situation

How does your garden grow?

Gardening idiomsSalad days = one’s days of youth and inexperience

Salt of the earth = someone who shows great kindness, reliability and honesty

Seed money = money used to start a small business

Small dog, tall weeds = someone who lacks the ability or resources necessary to perform a task

The grass is always greener (on the other side of the fence) = other people’s lives or situations always seem better than our own

To cherry-pick = choose only the best people or things in an unfair manner

To go to seed = stop caring about one’s health or appearance

To grasp the nettle = tackle a problem with bravery

To hear on/through the grapevine = acquire information via rumour

To let the grass grow under one’s feet = delay taking action

To put down roots = start to lead a settled life in a particular place

To reap what one sows = get what one deserves

To sow the seed(s) of = do something which will eventually bring about a particular result

Tools of the trade

A tough row to hoe = a difficult task to carry out

Green fingers/thumb = ability or knack for gardening

In spades = as much as or more than could be desired

To call a spade a spade = speak plainly or bluntly

To dig deep = draw on one’s physical, mental or financial resources

Gardening idiomsTo dig oneself into a hole = make things worse for oneself

To give it some welly = exert more effort or strength

To have a dig at someone = say something indirectly to someone to annoy them

To kick the bucket = die

To lay it on with a trowel = flatter excessively; exaggerate grossly

Miscellaneous gardening idioms

Between you, me and the gatepost = indicates that a confidence is about to be shared

Common-or-garden = very ordinary

To lead up/down the garden path = deceive or mislead someone

To make a mountain out of a molehill = make a small problem seem much greater than it really is

To mend fences = reconcile conflicting views; restore a broken relationship

To shake like a leaf = tremble with fear or nervousness

To turn over a new leaf = make a fresh start; resolve to change one’s ways for the better

As with most of the other blog posts in this series, I learnt several new idioms while putting this one together – my favourite being: Small dog, tall weeds.

Were there any expressions that were new to you? Or any other gardening idioms you think should be included? Do please share below.

(images courtesy of Feelart, rakratchada torsap, adamr and Simon Howden via Freedigitalphotos.net)



Posted in Idioms Tagged with: , , , ,
6 comments on “Bumper crop of gardening idioms for you to pick from
  1. Jimmy says:

    This is a great post. It has more useful information for gardening idioms. I like it. I learned a lot from it. It will help me. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Ken says:

    I loved this compilation! My friends are definitely going to hate me next time we’re in a garden.

  3. Brent Hine says:

    Such a great collection! How about “finding common ground”?

Have your say