I'm trying to find an alternative to "walled garden" to help people to visualise the long-term storage of data in a software system I'm building. Although this is in a software/IT environment, I'm specifically looking for a non-technical, visual description.

"Walled garden" is very nearly the best description, but looking at wikipedia's definition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_platform), the software does not restrict access to data inside our "walled garden", rather, it encourages access.

The concept I'm attempting to describe is more about loss of control over the data: the software receives new information, processes it in various ways, then "releases" it into a "space" where the data is readily accessible to anyone. However, once the data is in that "space", we are unable (more precisely, un-willing) to make any kind of change to that data; it "roams free". Yes, it is tracked and visualised, but is NEVER changed. Nor can it ever be removed from that "space" (except in unusual circumstances).

Would much appreciate any thoughts to help me get this right! Thank you.


In response to comments and answers so far, the idea of an ecosystem is a useful starting point.

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    Sort of a 'data reserve', like a 'wildlife reserve'? Or maybe just a 'data zoo'? – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 17 '15 at 12:38
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    Or 'data preserve'? – Erik Kowal Feb 17 '15 at 12:39
  • Definitely both on an excellent track, thank you, although I'd like to try and avoid using the word "data". Nevertheless, good analogies. – Erve1879 Feb 17 '15 at 12:44
  • does 'garden' have any significance? I see 'reserve' in similar lines. Unless it is really a 'green' repository, not sure if 'garden' or 'reserve' would be apt. – Raghuraman R Feb 17 '15 at 13:05
  • @RaghuramanR - no, no significance beyond the common visual which most people imagine when they hear "walled garden". I was thinking that a "Garden of Eden" might be more apt; the (perhaps ignorant) impression of no rules, peace and freedom.... – Erve1879 Feb 17 '15 at 13:12

How about pleasure garden? A pleasure garden is usually a garden that is open to the public typically for recreation. They differ from other public gardens in that they serve as venues for entertainment, variously featuring concert halls or bandstands, rides, zoos, and menageries.


If you want a metaphoric term, perhaps safe haven

a place where you are protected from harm or danger: As long as the UN soldiers were present, the city was regarded as a safe haven for the refugees.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Or perhaps snug harbor

a cozy comfortable retreat; especially: a home for retired seamen


  • Thanks bib. For me, both of those terms conjure images of protection, of warding off intruders/outsiders. Not quite what I'm looking for. – Erve1879 Feb 17 '15 at 13:01

Free-range seems to reflect the mirror image of walled garden:


1 (Of livestock, especially poultry) kept in natural conditions, with freedom of movement:

Free-range livestock are cared for by their owners, but they are mostly free to roam for their own growth and benefit.

Frome range:


A large area of open land for grazing or hunting:

  • Thanks @ScotM - I like the simplicity, but I need to describe the space, not the contents. – Erve1879 Feb 17 '15 at 13:14
  • Yes, "range" could do it. I guess "ranch" is a more commonly-known equivalent, which might also work. – Erve1879 Feb 17 '15 at 14:55

Parking area? That implies somewhere things are placed, but can easily be retrieved or accessed.


One might say the data are sent into the wide blue yonder to indicate that the data is beoynd reach. `Yonder' is related to 'beyond' anyway, and it the idiom has a nice tinge of the unreachable.

if you go into the wide blue yonder, you go somewhere far away that seems exciting because it is not known. I have a sudden desire to escape, to head off into the wide blue yonder and never return.

(idioms by The Free Dictionary)

  • This is exactly the sentiment I'm trying to capture, but how to convert this to a noun? "The Blue Yonder" is a bit too informal/indirect. – Erve1879 Feb 17 '15 at 14:55
  • In my books, 'yonder' is a noun (among other things it is). – anemone Feb 17 '15 at 14:58
  • fair point. I failed to clarify that I was referring to "into the wild blue yonder" (being the sentiment). However, my comment ('"The Blue Yonder" is a bit too informal/indirect') still stands, albeit minus the "Blue" bit. – Erve1879 Feb 17 '15 at 15:04

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