The practice of horticulture has been around for thousands of
years, but how is it relevant to life in the twenty-first century?
Plants still represent an important source of food, fuel, clothing,
shelter, medicine, perfume, and recreation; they also add oxygen
to the atmosphere and help in the removal of toxic waste from
the soil. We have become dependent on commercial horticulture
to su pply our produce and other plant products. What if your
favorite fruits or vegetables were no longer commercially available?
You would either have to cultivate
the plants yourself or go
without them. The act of cultivation could be as simple as the use
of a hoe to weed and loosen the ground under a berry bush you
found in the woods or as complicated as the design and maintenance
of a year-round vegetable garden.
is the scientific term for the act of gardening. It
first came into use around the eighteenth century, though gardening
itself has been practiced for many thousands of years. A
gardener must prepare and maintain the soil, select plants based
on the climate
and purpose for the garden, protect plants from
adverse weather conditions and pests, and encourage growth
with water and nutrients when necessary. Other roles of the
gardener may include the propagation
of new plants.
All of these topics will be described in greater detail throughout
Forestry, agronomy, and horticulture make up three branches
of agricultural science. Forestry is a discipline that concentrates
on trees that grow in a forest. Agronomy
focuses on cereal crops,
such as oats, barley, and wheat plus the forage
crops that feed
domesticated animals in pastures. The word horticulture
from the Latin word hortus
, which was used in Roman times to
define a garden on an estate—usually one smaller than five acres.
Anything larger than this was referred to as a farm.
Figure 1.1 A man inspects grapes in a Burgundy
vineyard near Beaune, France. Viticulturalists,
scientists who study the cultivation of grapes,
plan and oversee the growing of grapes that
are used to make wine.
Horticulture can be divided into four areas of specialty, two
of which are dedicated to the production of food. The branch of
horticulture that specializes in the growth of vegetable crops is called olericulture
, whereas pomology
is devoted to the art of fruit
cultivation. Vegetables and small fruits such as strawberries are
grown in gardens but may also be grown in large commercial
fields. Fruits found on trees, such as apples, pears, and peaches,
are cultivated in orchards, whereas citrus and olive trees are grown
. Grapes are produced in vineyards in a process called viticulture
Cultivation of ornamental houseplants and flowering plants
is the third branch of horticulture and is called floriculture
conducted on a commercial scale. The fourth branch, landscape horticulture
, focuses on woody ornamentals
(shrubs and trees),
which are cultivated in nurseries
for distribution to the public,
as well as turf
grasses used for lawns. Plants grown in orchards, vineyards, groves, gardens, greenhouses, and nurseries all belong
in the realm of horticulture.