Horticulture - Understanding Horticulture

Understanding Horticulture

Horticulture is a term that evokes images of plants, gardening, and people working in the horticultural industries. For the public, and policy makers, the term is not completely understood nor is its impact on human activities been fully appreciated. Horticulture impacts widely on human activities, more than its popular understanding as merely "gardening" would indicate. It needs to be recognised as a matrix of inter-relating areas that overlap, with complex inter-relationships. A wider and more accurate definition will communicate effectively the importance of plants, their cultivation and their use for sustainable human existence. The popular "gardening activity" sense fails to convey the important role that horticulture plays in the lives of individuals, communities and human societies as a whole. Describing its impact on the physiological, psychological and social activities of people is key to expanding our understanding; however "the cultivation of a garden, orchard, or nursery" and "the cultivation of flowers, fruits, vegetables, or ornamental plants" as well as "the science and art of cultivating such plants" will suffice to sketch the outline of a short description. Relf (1992) expanded the traditional understanding of horticulture beyond “garden” cultivation. Tukey (1962) gave an overview of those involved in the field of horticulture, in stating that there are those who are concerned with the science or biological side, those concerned with the business side and finally those who are concerned with the home or art side, who enjoy plants simply for the satisfaction they get from them. Primarily it is an art, but it is intimately connected with science at every point. Relf highlighted the fact that, in limiting the definition of horticulture severely limits an understanding of what horticulture means in terms of human well-being. Relf provided a comprehensive definition of horticulture as; the art and science of plants resulting in the development of minds and emotions of individuals, the enrichment and health of communities, and the integration of the “garden” in the breadth of modern civilisation. In addition, Halfacre and Barden (1979), Janick and Goldman (2003). further extended the scope of horticulture when they agreed that the origins of horticulture are intimately associated with the history of humanity and that horticulture encompasses all life and bridges the gap between science, art and human beings. This broader vision of horticulture embraces plants, including the multitude of products and activities (oxygen, food, medicine, clothing, shelter, celebration or remembrance) essential for human survival; and people, whose active and passive involvement with “the garden” brings about benefits to them as individuals and to the communities and cultures they encompass (Relf, 2002; Relf and Lohr, 2003 ).

It can be concluded that horticulture happens when people are in intimate, intensive contact with plants. It is the interface between people and plants.

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... Horticulture is a term that evokes images of plants, gardening, and people working in the horticultural industries ... Horticulture impacts widely on human activities, more than its popular understanding as merely "gardening" would indicate ... "gardening activity" sense fails to convey the important role that horticulture plays in the lives of individuals, communities and human societies as a whole ...