Gardening is the Practice of Growing Plants
Ornamental plants are normally grown for their flowers, foliage, overall appearance, or for their dyes. Useful plants are grown for consumption (vegetables, fruits, herbs, and leaf vegetables) or for medicinal use. A gardener is someone who practices gardening.
Gardening ranges in scale from fruit orchards, to long boulevard plantings with one or more different types of shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants, to residential yards including lawns and foundation plantings, to large or small containers grown inside or outside. Gardening may be very specialized, with only one type of plant grown, or involve a large number of different plants in mixed plantings. It involves an active participation in the growing of plants, and tends to be labor intensive, which differentiates it from farming or forestry.
Gardening for food extends far back into prehistory. Ornamental gardens were known in ancient times, a famous example being the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, while ancient Rome had dozens of gardens.
The earliest forms of gardens emerged from the people's need to grow herds and vegetables. And yet, many rich individuals in the past had gardens for the purely decorative purpose.
Ornamental gardens existed since ancient Egypt, when rich people used them as a mean to relax in the shade of the trees. Egyptians associated trees and gardens with gods as they believed that gods liked gardens. Commonly, the gardens in ancient Egypt were surrounded by walls with trees planted in rows. Among the most popular species that used to be planted were date palms, sycamores, fig trees, nut trees, and willows. Rich people also grew vineyards, as wine being the beverage for the wealthy. Roses, poppies, daisies and irises did not miss from the gardens of the Egyptians.
The Assyrians were also popular for their beautiful gardens. These were situated in what we know today as Iraq and they tended to be wide and large, some of them used for hunting and others as leisure gardens. Cypresses and palms were some of the most planted types of trees. It is believed that when the Assyrian Empire was destroyed Babylon developed as an empire with its very famous hanging gardens.
The ancient Roman gardens are known by their statues and sculptures, never missing from the lives of Romans. These gardens were laid out with hedges and vines and they contained a wide variety of flowers, including acanthus, cornflowers and crocus, cyclamen, hyacinth, iris and ivy, lavender, lilies, myrtle, narcissus, poppy, rosemary and violet. The beds of flowers were popular in the courtyards of the rich Romans.
The Middle Age represented a period of decline in what concerns gardening. After the fall of Rome gardening was only done with the purpose of growing medicinal herbs and decorating church altars.
Islamic gardens were built after the model of Persian gardens and they were usually enclosed by walls and divided in 4 by watercourses. Commonly, the center of the garden would have a pool or pavilion. Specific to the Islamic gardens are the mosaics and glazed tiles used to decorate the rills and fountains that were built in these gardens.
By the late 13th century, rich Europeans began to grow gardens for leisure and for medicinal herbs and vegetables. They surrounded the gardens by walls to protect them from animals and to provide seclusion. During the next two centuries, Europeans started planting lawns and raising flowerbeds and trellises of roses. Fruit trees were common in these gardens and also in some, there were turf seats. At the same time, the gardens in the monasteries were a place to grow flowers and medicinal herbs but they were also a space where the monks could enjoy nature and relax.
The gardens in the 16th and 17th century were symmetric, proportioned and balanced with a more classical appearance. Most of these gardens were built around a central axis and they were divided into different parts by hedges. Commonly, gardens had flowerbeds laid out in squares and separated by gravel paths.
Gardens in Renaissance were adorned with sculptures, topiary and fountains which often contained water jokes. In the 17th century, knot gardens became popular along with the hedge mazes. By this time, Europeans started planting new flowers such as tulips, marigolds and sunflowers.
In the 18th century, gardens remained a privilege reserved for the upper class. They were laid out more naturally, without any walls. Gardens of this century often contained shrubberies grottoes, pavilions, bridges and follies such as mock temples. By the next century, gardens became available to the middle class as well. Also, in 1804 the Horticultural Society was formed. Gardens of the 19th century contained plants such as the monkey puzzle or Chile pine. This is also the time when the so called "gardenesque" style of gardens evolved. These gardens displayed a wide variety of flowers in a rather small space. Rock gardens increased in popularity in the 19th century.
Residential gardening takes place near the home, in a space referred to as the garden. Although a garden typically is located on the land near a residence, it may also be located on a roof, in an atrium, on a balcony, in a windowbox, or on a patio or vivarium.
Gardening also takes place in non-residential green areas, such as parks, public or semi-public gardens (botanical gardens or zoological gardens), amusement and amusement parks, along transportation corridors, and around tourist attractions and garden hotels. In these situations, a staff of gardeners or groundskeepers maintains the gardens.
Community gardening is a social activity in which an area of land is gardened by a group of people, providing access to fresh produce and plants as well as access to satisfying labor, neighborhood improvement, sense of community and connection to the environment. Community gardens are typically owned in trust by local governments or nonprofits.
- Indoor gardening is concerned with the growing of houseplants within a residence or building, in a conservatory, or in a greenhouse. Indoor gardens are sometimes incorporated as part of air conditioning or heating systems.
- Native plant gardening is concerned with the use of native plants with or without the intent of creating wildlife habitat. The goal is to create a garden in harmony with, and adapted to a given area. This type of gardening typically reduces water usage, maintenance, and fertilization costs, while increasing native faunal interest.
- Water gardening is concerned with growing plants adapted to pools and ponds. Bog gardens are also considered a type of water garden. These all require special conditions and considerations. A simple water garden may consist solely of a tub containing the water and plant(s). In aquascaping, a garden is created within an aquarium tank.
- Container gardening is concerned with growing plants in any type of container either indoors or outdoors. Common containers are pots, hanging baskets, and planters. Container gardening is usually used in atriums and on balconies, patios, and roof tops.
- Garden sharing partners landowners with gardeners in need of land. These shared gardens, typically front or back yards, are usually used to produce food that is divided between the two parties.
A "gardener" is any person involved in gardening, arguably the oldest occupation, from the hobbyist in a residential garden, the homeowner supplementing the family food with a small vegetable garden or orchard, to an employee in a plant nursery or the head gardener in a large estate.
The term gardener is also used to describe garden designers and landscape gardeners, who are involved chiefly in the design of gardens, rather than the practical aspects of horticulture.
Gardening may be performed at a professional level or as a hobby. There is a wide range of accessories available in the market for both the professional gardener and the amateur to exercise their creativity. These accessories can help decorate all the different areas of gardens such as walk ways and raised beds, and any other area.
Location, size, budget are all characteristics to be considered when choosing accessories to improve a garden's deco. Accessories are made of different materials such as copper, stone, wood, bamboo, metal, stainless steel, clay, stained glass, cement, iron, and the weather where the garden is located will determine which material works best to ensure accessories last long.
A garden's decoration with the appropriate accessories also adds personality and beauty, and depending on the situation, the decoration chosen will provide functionality to the garden. Paths for instance are functional for the maintenance of the garden, and can be somehow decorated using different materials such as pine needles, wood chips, fieldstone, or bricks. Also, backdrops include walls, fences, and hedges which are intended to provide privacy. Moreover, they hide unsightly areas and also emphasize desired views.
Trellis, arbors, and arches add height. Trellies are used for climbing flowers and vines or to create a vertical garden of small fruits and vegetables while arbors and arches can be places on walkways or entry ways. This kind of structure provide additional depth to the landscape.
For those who enjoy their garden at any time, there are also night accessories which include candle lanterns, oil lamps, patio torches, and illuminations.
Feeders, hummingbird feeders and birdbaths are all good options to invite birds to visit one's garden and also make good ornaments.
Large accessories such as benches, water fountains, stone features, urns, and statues should be used sparingly or they will cause a cluttered appearance. Fountains come in a variety of styles ranging from traditional to modern. Not only do they work as part of the deco but they also have a calming effect. Some of them are made of fiberglass which makes them lightweight and weather resistant. There are also solar-powered fountains with a remote solar panel that can be placed in the sun while the fountain is located in the shadow.
Other accessories to be taken into account are garden gongs, gazing balls, garden bugs, garden stakes, pot hangers, spinners, pinwheels which help enhance different deco styles.
Gardening departments and centers
Gardening departments and centers mainly sell plants, sundries, and garden accessories, but in recent times, many now stock outdoor leisure products as diverse as spas, furniture, and barbecues. Many garden centers now include food halls, and sections for clothing, gifts, pets, and power tools. There are also a number of online garden centers that now deliver direct to customers' doors.
Comparison with farming
In respect to its food producing purpose, gardening is distinguished from farming chiefly by scale and intent. Farming occurs on a larger scale, and with the production of saleable goods as a major motivation. Gardening is done on a smaller scale, primarily for pleasure and to produce goods for the gardener's own family or community. There is some overlap between the terms, particularly in that some moderate-sized vegetable growing concerns, often called market gardening, can fit in either category.
Planting in a gardenThe key distinction between gardening and farming is essentially one of scale; gardening can be a hobby or an income supplement, but farming is generally understood as a full-time or commercial activity, usually involving more land and quite different practices. One distinction is that gardening is labor-intensive and employs very little infrastructural capital, sometimes no more than a few tools, e.g. a spade, hoe, basket and watering can. By contrast, larger-scale farming often involves irrigation systems, chemical fertilizers and harvesters or at least ladders, e.g. to reach up into fruit trees. However, this distinction is becoming blurred with the increasing use of power tools in even small gardens.
In part because of labor intensity and aesthetic motivations, gardening is very often much more productive per unit of land than farming. In the Soviet Union, half the food supply came from small peasants' garden plots on the huge government-run collective farms, although they were tiny patches of land. Some argue this as evidence of superiority of capitalism, since the peasants were generally able to sell their produce. Others consider it to be evidence of a tragedy of the commons, since the large collective plots were often neglected, or fertilizers or water redirected to the private gardens.
The term precision agriculture is sometimes used to describe gardening using intermediate technology (more than tools, less than harvesters), especially of organic varieties. Gardening is effectively scaled up to feed entire villages of over 100 people from specialized plots. A variant is the community garden which offers plots to urban dwellers; see further in allotment (gardening).
Gardens as art
See also: Landscape architecture
Garden design is considered to be an art in most cultures, distinguished from gardening, which generally means garden maintenance. In Japan, Samurai and Zen monks were often required to build decorative gardens or practice related skills like flower arrangement known as ikebana. In 18th century Europe, country estates were refashioned by landscape gardeners into formal gardens or landscaped park lands, such as at Versailles, France or Stowe, England. Today, landscape architects and garden designers continue to produce artistically creative designs for private garden spaces.
Professional landscape designers are certified by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.
Garden design can include different themes such as perennial garden, butterfly garden, wildlife, Japanese, Water, tropical or shade garden.
People can express their political or social views in gardens, intentionally or not. The lawn vs. garden issue is played out in urban planning as the debate over the "land ethic" that is to determine urban land use and whether hyper hygienist bylaws (e.g. weed control) should apply, or whether land should generally be allowed to exist in its natural wild state. In a famous Canadian Charter of Rights case, "Sandra Bell vs. City of Toronto", 1997, the right to cultivate all native species, even most varieties deemed noxious or allergenic, was upheld as part of the right of free expression.
People often surround their house and garden with a hedge. Common hedge plants are privet, hawthorn, beech, yew, leyland cypress, hemlock, arborvitae, barberry, box, holly, oleander, forsythia and lavender. The idea of open gardens without hedges may be distasteful to those who enjoy privacy. This may have an advantage to local wildlife by providing a habitat for birds, animals, and wild plants.
The Slow Food movement has sought in some countries to add an edible school yard and garden classrooms to schools, e.g. in Fergus, Ontario, where these were added to a public school to augment the kitchen classroom. Garden sharing, where urban landowners allow gardeners to grow on their property in exchange for a share of the harvest, is associated with the desire to control the quality of one's food, and reconnect with soil and community.
In US and British usage, the production of ornamental plantings around buildings is called landscaping, landscape maintenance or grounds keeping, while international usage uses the term gardening for these same activities.
A garden pest is generally an insect, plant, or animal that engages in activity that the gardener considers undesirable. It may crowd out desirable plants, disturb soil, eat young seedlings, steal fruit, or otherwise kill plants, hamper their growth, damage their appearance, or reduce the quality of the edible or ornamental portions of the plant.
Because each gardener may have different goals, a garden pest is what the gardener considers a pest. For example, Tropaeolum speciosum, while beautiful, can be considered a pest if it seeds and starts to grow where it is not wanted. As the root is well below ground, pulling it up does not remove it: it simply grows again and becomes what may be considered a pest.
As another example, in lawns, moss can become dominant and be impossible to eradicate. In some lawns, lichens, especially very damp lawn lichens such as Peltigera lactucfolia and P. membranacea, can become difficult and be considered pests.
There are many ways to remove unwanted pests from a garden. The techniques vary depending on the pest, the gardener's goals, and the gardener's philosophy. For example, snails may be dealt with through a chemical pesticide, an organic pesticide, hand-picking, barriers, or simply growing snail-resistant plants.
Garden pest control
Although pest control is usually done with the help of pesticides, there are also more natural ways to prevent getting the garden infested with different parasites. Yet, pest control and the products used may vary based on the specific type of plants and type of insects.
Preventing pests can be done by pulling out the weak plants which may already be infected. Also, a healthy and organic soil helps in reducing the chances of pest in the garden. Some specialists recommend using seaweed mulch or spray on the plants and minimize the insect habitat by cleaning the garden area of debris and weeds. Interplanting and rotating crops as well as keeping foliage dry are ones of the methods one can use to prevent pests in their garden. Disinfecting the tools is also important when working with infested plants and should be performed every time the gardener moves to another area of the garden.