Horticulture may be described as the practice of growing plants in a
relatively intensive manner. This contrasts with agriculture, which, in
most Western European countries, relies on a high level of machinery
use over an extensive area of land, consequently involving few people
in the production process. The boundary between the two is far from
clear, especially when considering large-scale outdoor production
When vegetables, fruit and fl owers are grown on a smaller scale,
especially in gardens or market gardens, the difference is clearer cut and
is characterized by a large labour input and the grower’s use of technical
manipulation of plant material. Protected culture
is the more extreme
form of this where the plants are grown under protective materials or in
|Figure 1.1 Horticultural produce
There is a fundamental difference between production horticulture
and service horticulture which is the development and upkeep of
gardens and landscape for their amenity, cultural and recreational
values. Increasingly horticulture can be seen to be involved with
social well-being and welfare through the impact of plants for human
physical and mental health. It encompasses environmental protection
and conservation through large- and small-scale landscape design and
management. The horticulturists involved will be engaged in plant
selection, establishment and maintenance; many will be involved in
aspects of garden planning such as surveying and design.
There may be some dispute about whether countryside management
belongs within horticulture, dealing as it does with the upkeep and
ecology of large semi-wild habitats. In a different way, the use of
alternative materials to turf as seen on all-weather sports surfaces tests
what is meant by the term horticulture.
This section concerns itself with the principles underlying the growing of
plants in the following sectors of horticulture:
- Outdoor production of vegetables, fruit and/or flowers.
- Protected cropping, which enables plant material to be
supplied outside its normal season and to ensure high quality,
e.g. chrysanthemums, all the year round, tomatoes to a high
specifi cation over an extended season, and cucumbers from an
area where the climate is not otherwise suitable. Plant propagation,
providing seedlings and cuttings, serves outdoor growing as well
as the glasshouse industry. Protected culture using low or walk-in
polythene covered tunnels is increasingly important in the production
of vegetables, salads, bedding plants and flowers.
- Nursery stock is concerned with the production of soil- or containergrown
shrubs and trees. Young stock of fruit may also be established
by this sector for sale to fruit growers: soft fruit (strawberries, etc.), cane fruit (raspberries, etc.) and top fruit (apples, pears, etc.).
- Landscaping, garden construction and maintenance that involve
the skills of construction together with the development of planted areas (soft landscaping). Closely associated with this sector is grounds maintenance, the maintenance of trees and woodlands
(arboriculture and tree surgery)' specialist features within the
garden such as walls and patios (hard landscaping) and the use of
water (aquatic gardening).
- Interior landscaping is the provision of semi-permanent plant
arrangements inside conservatories, offi ces and many public
buildings, and involves the skills of careful plant selection and
- Turf culture includes decorative lawns and sports surfaces for
football, cricket, golf, etc.
- Professional gardening covers the growing of plants in gardens
including both public and private gardens and may refl ect many
aspects of the areas of horticulture described. It often embraces both
the decorative and productive aspects of horticulture.
- Garden centres provide plants for sale to the public, which involves
handling plants, maintaining them and providing horticultural advice.
A few have some production on site, but stock is usually bought in.