VP's Guide to 'Cataloguespeak' Part II

Threadspider and I took a trip to our local garden centre recently and saw the 'cataloguespeak' I discovered earlier this year has now found its way into the descriptions on display there. Here's a fun quick guide to the meanings behind what the signs say...
  • Vigorous - will swamp all your other plants nearby
  • Best eaten fresh - doesn't keep or cook well
  • Crops heavily - you'll have much more than you'll know what to do with
  • Unique flavour - tastes so bad you'll need to mix it with something to disguise the flavour such as chilli or ginger, or sweeten it with a whole bag of sugar
  • Bright light in winter - you'll need to leave the light on all day, especially as we've also advised you to keep it on a north or east facing windowsill
  • Fast growing - will engulf your house in just one season
  • Ideal for cooking - it has no taste or is sour when eaten fresh. May also have a unique flavour
  • Challenging - impossible to grow, so don't bother
  • Uncommonly found - no-one's managed to keep it alive, probably because it's challenging
  • Maintain a warm temperature year round - take out a mortgage on your heating bill now

Have you found any good examples of 'Cataloguespeak' lately?

The photo is courtesy and copyright of Threadspider because I'd forgotten my camera.


  1. Great fun and I feel sure there were plenty more we missed that day. One of my favourites is "Choice", for which read "Very,very expensive".

  2. TS - oops forgot to put your credit up for the photo - will correct now...

  3. while i enjoy reading the (often) ludicrous descriptions found in home-improvement centers, i rarely buy there as the results are usually not worth the words to describe them!

  4. 'Exclusive' is always one that makes me chuckle, especially when you find it seems to be available in nearly every catalogue you look at. Gulped at the price of that clematis armandii!

  5. A bit like those brochures for all cottages

    All basic amenities - mmm... so a table and chairs then.

  6. "Thrives in dry shade and difficult conditions" = weed-like tendencies. My favorite is "good cut flower" or "perfect for arrangements" means it flops like crazy or the flower heads are too heavy for the stems.

  7. Petoskystone and Mark - I'm sure we can find 'cataloguespeak' everywhere if we care to look ;)

    Anna - you'd gulp even more if I told you the price of the 'Challenging' and 'Uncommon' houseplant!

    MMD - great examples which are now my comment of the week in my Sunday Supplement post. Thank you :)

  8. As a copywriter, I've never been able to write this kind of copy -- my conscience won't let me. As a result, my bank account is a lot less "vigorous" than some of my colleagues.

  9. Helen - having written my two 'cataloguespeak' posts, I'm glad I haven't been asked! I can't imagine writing 100s of catalogue entries and staying sane in the process.


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