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Horticulture... A Gift For Growing


Did you eat any fruits or vegetables today? Enjoy beautiful landscaping in a park? Play golf at a well-managed course? Say thanks to the horticulturalists who have been hard at work with fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants, and turfgrass, in a variety of labs, fields, golf courses and garden centres around the world to make it possible for you.

A BIT OF BACKGROUND:

The greatest advances in horticulture, the selection and domestication of our useful crops, were made in prehistory by farmers unknown and unsung. The basic techniques of horticulture were well established by ancient cultures in antiquity (1000 to 1500 years ago). In fact, a complete record of horticulture practices is illustrated in the tomb artwork of ancient Egypt. The horticultural technology of antiquity includes basic propagation techniques (seed handling, grafting, use of cuttings); planting and cultivation (plowing, seed bed preparation, weeding), irrigation technology involving water storage, lifting, and channelling; storage technology such as granaries; fertilisation and crop rotation; plant selection; basic food technology (fermentation technology in bread-and winemaking, drying, and pickling), and even the beginning of protected culture (the Romans had a primitive greenhouse using mica for cucumber forcing).

Happily, as the world and science has progressed, it’s become easier to do many of the things that our forefathers had to slave away at. And of course, studying horticulture at Lifestyle College just made it that much more simple....

I think most people who drift into the world of plants do so after having watched and enjoyed the myriad British TV shows featuring landscape architects and botanists who make gardening fun. Many of us got there by imagining ourselves as the new Diarmuid Gavin, Charlie Dimmock or Monty Don, with unlimited budgets and clients who would want flights of fantasy taking place in their backyards.

However, eventually the reality check steps in. You actually have to learn stuff. About plants. And how they work. And what works with them. It’s not just playing like kids in a sandpit, making sandcastles in the sky.

Making a garden work is pretty much all about the plants and planting scheme, rather than just the design. So ensuring you have this wonderful world in the palm of your hand is really the number one step.

This is where horticulture comes in.

Simply put, horticulture – literally garden culture - is the art and science of plant production for both beauty and utility. The agronomic science that deals with the study of growing trees, vegetables, flowers, and how they work within landscape architecture. The horticulture discipline is concerned with cultivating plants for human consumption, but also for medical purposes or simply for aesthetic pleasure. Horticulture also combines science and technology with art and design principles.

Sound good? Or sound like too ‘sciency’?

Surprisingly, the stuff you learned in biology classes at high school has been lurking under the miasma of other information you’ve picked up along the way, and will suddenly come back and words like xylem and phloem, angiosperms and dicotyledons will wing their way to the surface.

Gardening is hardly a straightforward practice — goodness knows it takes skills, dedication, and more than a little luck to grow flowers and veggies. But while certain facts about gardens are perplexing (like the delicate nature of herb garden growing), some are just plain fun, silly, or even mind-boggling.

Keen to find out more? The idea of nurturing things rather than sitting everyday in a dull, grey, concrete office dreaming of being outside appealing? Given the choice between jobs that promise air conditioning and beaucoup bucks, or jobs that promise dirt under the fingernails and bad knees, which would you choose?

If it’s the latter, then get in touch with our green gurus at Lifestyle College and get all the dirt you need on getting with the programme. It’s that easy – just dig in....


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