Gardening is the practice of sowing and cultivating plants. Gardening is a vast discipline that includes many different garden designs and techniques for tending to the plants within. Plants in a garden can have a variety of uses— they can be used cosmetically or medically, can provide nourishment or can simply look nice. Gardens can either focus on cultivating one type of plant (vineyards, orangeries) or can contain a wide diversity of plants. The major differences between gardening and similar practices such as farming and forestry are that gardening involves a more active role in growing plants and usually covers a smaller scale than farming.
The art and science of how to garden has been around since prehistoric times. When civilizations began developing, gardens were mainly built and cultivated by the wealthy as a provider of shade, a sign of nobility and a display of natural artistry. By the 1200s, Europeans had begun growing gardens for more practical uses, such as growing medicinal herbs and vegetables for eating. Throughout the centuries and across various cultures, many practical garden designs and practices developed including today's growing interest in organic gardening. Although confined primarily to the upper classes, by the 19th century gardening had found its way to the middle class as well. Today, individuals across social classes practice gardening both professionally and as hobbyists. (Photo: Shutterstock)