A Horticultural society is an organization or group that studies the art of garden cultivation. People learn these skills in a social setting with basic tools. Generally, Most horticultural societies focus on the general aspects. However, some of them deal with a specific variety of plants. The horticultural societies can be on a national or an international level.
Horticultural societies play a vital role in raising awareness of eco-friendly gardening practices. Moreover, it connects people to gardening by showcasing the art of horticulture. More importantly, they bring together national leaders in horticulture. And this facilitates them to address the nation.
Historic Horticultural societies
Research shows that horticultural societies existed as early as 7000 BCE in the Middle East. Our ancestors relied on hunter-gatherer methods before these societies were formed. Horticultural societies provided a stable food source. And this was an innovative breakthrough. Soon, these societies started storing food and people started settling in.
Eventually, societies became popular in Europe, Africa and Asia. Horticultural societies use a variety of tools like spades, ploughs, sticks and axes. Fertilization, irrigation and terracing developed with experience. However, that didn’t stop the hunter-gatherers from hunting. And this led to the idea of animal farming in societies.
The religion of horticulturists resembled the hunter-gatherers in many ways. Many primitive societies performed life crisis ceremonies like puberty rites, shamans, totemism and worshiping animistic spirits. Such worship ceremonies were practiced in hierarchical societies. However, the egalitarian societies did not practice ancestor worship.
Most horticultural societies were chiefdoms. And they believed that the chief’s ancestors were gods. The founders of the chiefly lineage were the most worshipped gods. In contrast, the recent ancestors had a lower status. As a result, a hierarchy of gods was formed.
Strategies used by Societies
Shifting cultivation was a popular strategy in most horticultural societies. This strategy involved planting on different areas of the land for short periods. Once a region was harvested, the land was left and a new area was cultivated. And the whole process is repeated with a new piece of land each time.
Wild plants grow naturally on the harvested lands. This allowed nature to restore itself. When people return to this land, they burned the wild vegetation. As a result, the nutrients in the soil increased from the burned plants. And this technique is called slash and burn.
Another popular technique used by horticultural societies used long-growing trees. These trees grow for years and need very less attention. For example, coconut trees can give coconuts for years and occasionally need pruning. Banana trees are also a popular option for such societies.
Some societies combined shifting cultivation with long-growing trees. For instance, the Samoan society planted a root plant called taro along with long-growing trees. This plant was easy to grow and needed very little care. Simply chopping a part off and burying it makes a new plant. If a region’s yield was poor, they would abandon it and plant elsewhere.
Most people confuse between horticulture and agriculture. My article on Horticulture vs Agriculture will clear it all.
How Societies Evolved
Anthropologists from all over the world documented many horticultural societies. Advanced technology and tools help for this purpose. Varying factors like regional climate and ecology affected the social and political aspects of societies. And these variations created political structures that exist to this day.
Large horticultural societies had complex social organizations focused on kinship. Most societies followed matrilineal kinship. This trend was popular because crop cultivation was feminized. Women did the major work in horticultural societies.
On the other hand, hunter-gatherers and tedious farming work became patrilineal. Men mostly focused on these activities in horticultural societies. Additionally, they also took political roles in societies. Speaking of politics, they decided how the food should be distributed in the society.
As technology evolved, agrarian societies developed. Animals helped for tasks like ploughing. Irrigation, terracing, soil tilling and fertilizing are some of the major innovations in horticulture. And these eased things up for societies. However, horticultural societies exist to this day in parts of Africa, South America and Asia.
Popular Horticultural Societies
The Ancient Society of York Florists was the first horticultural society in the world. It was founded in 1768 at York, UK. And they welcome people from around the world with shows throughout the year. Today, it is the largest horticultural society in the world with records dating back to 1768.
The Royal Horticultural Society is another popular society in the UK. It was founded in 1804 as the Horticultural Society of London. Now it is the UK’s leading gardening charity. They also give trainings to gardeners and host flower shows. Some of the popular shows include Hampton Court Palace flower show, Cardiff flower show, Tatton Park flower show and the Chelsea flower show.
American Horticultural Society (AHS) is the oldest national gardening society in North America. Set up in 1922, the AHS is a non-profit organization. The American Horticultural Council and the National Horticultural Society are now together with the AHS. They have a wide range of educational programs, awards and publications. Their headquarters at Virginia features both formal and natural gardens, an orchard, a meadow and wildlife garden.
Importance of Horticultural Societies
Growing your own food has its own economic importance. Self-sufficiency is the ultimate goal of every country. And horticultural societies help in achieving them. Besides food, some plants have medicinal values. Moreover, other needs like clothing are also satisfied with plants. But wait there’s more. Plants also have aesthetic features that boost your mental well-being.
Horticultural societies feature gardens with a wide range of wild and domestic plants. Societies vary in size and traits all over the world. And they bring together gardening and plant enthusiasts. In turn, gatherings are a great place to host shows. It’s a great place to share unique cultivation methods and sell plants, gardening supplies and equipment. There’s no better way to inspire people to grow plants and make the world a better place. Some horticultural societies focus on certain species of plants based on the region. Whereas, large societies have more diverse horticultural interests. Speaking of diversity, they are vital as they raise awareness on horticulture. This should be enough motivation for people to start growing a few plants. Moreover, these people can showcase their plants at societies to influence even more people.
I hope this article has given you enough information on horticultural societies. Have you ever visited a Horticultural Society? If yes, how was your experience? Feel free to share your views in the comments section below.