Horticulture is defined as the art of plant cultivation for ornamental, comfort, or culinary purposes. Throughout history gardens have been central to the culture of different groups of people. All you have to do is look at what is almost always present when an event is held. Food. There is almost always food present for guests of any event to enjoy.
In addition to food, at events of great importance there are often flowers and other plants used to create a desired atmosphere. This bridge between plants and feeling is what horticulture is all about.
While Horticulture is a wide field in itself, it is only a small arm of agriculture. Horticulture encompasses anything from landscape design to large scale ornamental plant production and plant maintenance. In any division you will see a heavy business influence.
Typically someone who studies horticulture will specialize in one of these areas, with a general knowledge of each segment. Because of how vast the plant world is, individuals will continue to build their knowledge throughout their lifetime with added experience and educational opportunities.
The meaning that horticulture has taken on can best be seen through the history of gardens. Throughout historical literature such as the bible and other religious scripts, gardens and other collections of plant material or natural settings have signified important events and locations.
For example the stories of Adam and Eve take place within a garden as well as many stories about Jesus Christ. In popular works of poetry throughout the 18th Century and up to the present time, plants have often been used to help convey emotion and create imagery. These references occur because of the central role gardens have played throughout society.
When observing historic properties and buildings you will find large areas dedicated to ornamental gardens as well as specific ‘rooms’ created for a thriving plant collection. Part of the reason for this is the use of plants for practical uses such as covering odors, but also for personal enjoyment and symbolic representations of society rank. Gardens created with intentional thought and planning are often called potagers. This cultural base has been the origin of many design styles used in our world today.
The study of horticulture is focused on how we can continue to use plants for our benefit along with their improved growing methods. Start planning your own potager today. Spend some time pondering your style. Do you like the rigid lines and formality of many French gardens? Or does the looseness of a cottage garden appeal to you more. Don’t forget to add some structures to your potager to expand plant growth vertically.