Horticultural Professions


Horticultural Professions
  Plant Collectors

Some folks garden to grow good food, others grow gardens for the flowers. Some delight in a green, freshly cut lawn or an early spring blooming orchid in a sunny living-room window. Some like the fact that the garden adds value to their real estate. There are even those that turn their passion for gardening into a profession. There are quite a few options for the horticulturist, as described below.

A degree in horticulture can provide additional opportunities. Horticulture degrees are offered at land-grant colleges (Figure 8.1).
A horticultural student plucks spent
Figure 8.1 A horticultural student plucks spent
flowers of Pelargonium geraniums at Colorado
State University’s trial flower garden.
Every state has a land-grant college and they are usually part of large state universities. Land-grant colleges were started in the late 1800s by a congressional act sponsored by Justin Morrill from Vermont, as public institutions to teach agriculture. You can find the land-grant college campus locations online at the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges Web site listed in the Further Reading section.

Land-grant colleges offer courses that expose you to all the facets of horticulture. Some areas of specialty include horticultural therapy, business management, floriculture, vegetable production, fruit production, woody ornamentals, turf, landscape architecture, greenhouse management, seed production, and plant breeding.

Horticulture therapists work with patients in gardens at hospitals, community centers, retirement homes, and schools. Business managers can work in nurseries, greenhouses, and horticultural supply companies. Floriculturists can work in greenhouse or field production of cut flowers and ornamental houseplants, as wholesale distributors, or in florist shops as flower arrangers. Fruit and vegetable production offers employment in production, management, postharvest distribution, and wholesale and retail of plants, seeds, and produce.
Landscape architects serve diverse clients and may design gardens for homeowners, corporations, commercial sites, and public spaces. Gardeners and landscape maintenance companies are employed by the same clientele. Turf specialists can be employed by the owners of golf courses and athletic fields. Plant breeders and researchers can find employment in the laboratory or greenhouse, or in field research for botanical gardens, universities, or with private companies. Those with advanced degrees in horticulture also teach at colleges and universities.

The cooperative extension service is a nationwide network associated with universities in every state. The cooperative extension offers free classes that certify you as a master gardener in exchange for volunteer service with the extension. You can find more information about this program at the American Horticultural Society Web site listed at the back of the book.

You can also find out about current trends in horticulture from periodicals such as Horticulture Magazine or Organic Garden, which may be in your local public library. Field trips to botanical gardens, university greenhouses, local nurseries, and garden tours are other ways you can further explore the realm of horticulture.