Horticulture 101: A Brief Look at the History of Horticulture

Horticulture has been defined as the culture of plants for food, comfort, and beauty. It differs from plain agriculture by the simple fact that agriculture usually, though not always, focuses only on one type of crop while horticulture focuses on several types of plants.

The objective of agriculture, after all, is the creation of a stable food supply for the community, while horticulture is more focused on the aesthetics, though it would be a mistake to think that horticulture is only about aesthetics.

In the creation of a food supply for a community of perhaps hundreds of people, how the crops appear while they are growing would not have been much of a concern, after all, most crops would be chopped down so that they could be transformed into food.

In horticulture, however, it is exactly the way that the plants appear that is the concern. Despite this difference, both agriculture and horticulture have one origin. Let’s take a closer look at the history of horticulture

In the Beginning

Thousands of years ago, ancient humans transitioned from a hunter-gatherer society into a farming society. This is the beginning of the agricultural revolution where early humans realized that rather than depending on luck to find food, they would set aside a portion of land and transform them into fields through which they would grow their own food.

The first people to do so typically focused on only one type of crop, and from that, we can see the beginnings of agriculture. No one has recorded history from the time that humans have first started to walk the earth.

It is speculated that the reason why record keeping evolved and became important is because of the need to record the yields of particular fields of crops, so we cannot be sure as to the actual time or place when horticulture separated itself from agriculture.

Where Agriculture and Horticulture Divided

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Indeed, we can only speculate that one day, a specific person decided that he or she wanted to grow a crop that is different from those other crops that his or her neighbors are growing. Perhaps he or she wanted a stalk of wheat that was taller than normal, or perhaps he or she wanted a berry shrub that would grow a particular pattern that he or she is fond of.

Whatever the reason, it is easy to see that person producing some sort of primitive cutting tool and trimming the berry shrub to form the pattern that he or she wanted. In modern times, trimming a plant to follow a particular pattern is one of the more recognizable activities of a horticulturalist.

Over the years, the activities of a horticulturalist have evolved from simply showing up a unique shrub, tree, crop, or plant. As the agricultural revolution swept the human populations and fields of plantations began appearing all over the surface of the planet, it is not unreasonable to think that problems arose in regards to the crops that the early humans were planting.

Horticulturalists were able to provide answers to some questions that the planters may have had, and while it is true that this would have nothing to do with aesthetics, again, it must be remembered that aesthetics is simply one part of the practice of horticulture.

Horticulture Today

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The modern-day horticulturalists, after all, study not only the ways and means of growing plants and crops to follow a beautiful pattern with their stems and leaves. The modern-day horticulturalist also studies the ways and means of growing plants and crops that are more resistant to things that would have killed these plants or render them useless such as bacteria and viruses.

We hope you enjoyed this introductory to horticulture, and that you’ve found the facts interesting! Would you consider becoming a horticulturist? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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