Many people see horticulture as gardening and horticulturists are therefore gardeners. But that is to take a very limited view of a broad and important industry which is vital to the health and quality of life of our nations. Plants play a vital role in carbon reduction, air quality and water cycle regulation and horticulture is the industry, science and art of plant cultivation. More information - definitions of horticulture.
Yes, there are many horticulturists who are gardeners and demonstrate a high degree of professionalism, skill and knowledge in the work they do. And their work is recognised and valued for the contribution it makes to our leisure and tourism industries. But the horticulture industry is much broader than that and its impact more far-reaching. More information - No Plants No Planet: A position paper.
Horticulturists are responsible for the cultivation of the vegetable, fruit and salad crops that make such an important contribution to the quality of our diet, and the flowers, bulbs, shrubs and trees enrich our environment. Horticulturists run the garden centres and nurseries that supply millions of gardeners with the plants and other goods they need for what is the most popular pastime.
Without the skill and dedication of the horticulturists who prepare and manage our sports pitches, golf courses, and bowling greens, far less sport at all levels would be possible and we’d all be much the poorer for the loss of enjoyment and exercise.
It’s horticulturists who maintain the parks and open spaces in our towns and cities, providing much needed space away from the pressures of urban living. And it’s horticulturists who construct and manage the landscapes around offices, business parks, retail areas and road developments improving the environment in which we live and work.
The horticulture industry has never had the kind of government support available to agriculture to buffer it from the ups and downs of the economy, so horticulturists have had to be resourceful and innovative to survive. Research and development, and the scientists and advisers involved, have played a big part in the development of horticulture industry. In parallel with this, education and training have ensured that those who choose to work in the industry have the knowledge and skills they require.
The total value of output for the horticulture industry in the UK is estimated at £9 billion per annum and over €400 million in Ireland and it provides regular employment for over 37,000 people in the UK and 6,000 in Ireland – many of those jobs in rural areas. Horticulture sustains many additional jobs in industries such as fertiliser and compost production and in supply chain industries such as food packing and processing. Approximatley 85% of the sector is managed within small and medium sized enterprises, with a high proportion of micro businesses.
In such a diverse and important industry, the Institute of Horticulture plays an important role in bringing together all the professionals – gardeners, botanic and heritage gardeners, landscapers, designers, commercial growers, groundsmen, conservationists, researchers, consultants, garden centre managers, scientists, teachers, lecturers and many others – who can proudly claim to be horticulturists. More information