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Gardening is the practice, and sometimes the art, of sowing, planting, and maintaining plants that make up a garden in ideal conditions for their development. This practice meets an aesthetic and/or nutritional need.

The term “gardening” is used above all for leisure, ornamental, and food self-consumption activities practiced by individuals and entities exercising it without direct profit, while the terms market gardening, horticulture, arboriculture, floriculture. designate professional activities aimed at producing and selling fruits, flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, and ornaments as well as various other plant products.

Gardening methods around the world vary depending on the climate, soil, uses, and resources available to the gardener.


The term “garden”, attested in the twelfth century, seems to come from the Latin-Germanic compound Hortus gardens, which literally means “garden surrounded by a fence”, from the Latin Hortus, garden and from the Frankish gart or garden, “fence”. This etymology suggests that the garden must defend itself against livestock, poultry, game and waterfowl when they are present and sometimes also [[thief | thieves [ref. necessary]]].

History of gardening

The term “gardening” is used from the end of the thirteenth century. In 1599, the agronomist Olivier de Serres wrote Le Théâtre d’Agriculture et Mesnage des Champs (…) in which is represented all that is required and necessary to properly train, govern, enrich and embellish the Rustic House. This is an agricultural manual intended for the manager of a rural estate (the Pradel estate owned by O. de Serres covers one hundred and fifty hectares), this complete work includes a chapter entitled “DES GARDINAGES” which is subtitled thus: “To have Herbs and Fruit Vegetables: Herbs and Fragrant Flowers: Medicinal Herbs: Fruit from Trees: Saffron, Linen, Hemp, Guesde, Garance, Thistles, Rozeaux: then, the Way of making partitions for the conservation of Fruits in general ”. In 1709, the treatise entitled Theory and Practice of Gardening was published for the first time. It is written by Dezallier d´Argenville, lawyer and secretary to the King, but above all a great lover of gardens. He synthesizes the knowledge of the “Grand Siècle” both for the art of designing gardens and for horticultural techniques.

Gardening or agriculture?

The difference between gardening and agriculture is essentially a difference in scale and means: gardening can be a hobby, or tend towards food self-sufficiency, provide additional income, while agriculture is part of a profitability approach. Gardening operations are often manual and use little financial means, typically a few hand tools, such as a shovel, rake, basket, watering can, wheelbarrow, and home-made compost. In comparison, agriculture in industrialized countries more often uses mechanization, chemical fertilizers, animal manure as an amendment and fertilizer, efficient irrigation systems, etc.


Contemporary language speaks of landscaping or garden architecture when it comes to thinking and creating a garden. This relatively recent term did not exist at the time of Le Nôtre, nor that of a landscaper. We used that of “gardening” [ref. necessary]. A number of contemporary landscapers prefer the term “landscape gardener” to that of “landscape architect”.

Gardening, the hobby of French households

According to INSEE, nearly 60% of French households have a garden or vegetable patch, i.e. a total area of one million hectares, or 2% of the national territory). And if we add the terraces, balconies, and window sills, nine out of ten French people1 have a flowered or cultivated space attached to their main habitat.

In 2012, a household spent on average 1,600 euros per year on this activity, i.e. twice as much as ten years ago and, according to the French Federation of Gardening Trades, the turnover of the gardening sector weighs 7.47 billion euros with the following breakdown: 22.8% for outdoor plants, 19.7% for leisure items, 13.3% for power tools, 12.2% for fittings, 11, 7% for equipment, 7.6% for maintenance products, 6.4% for decoration and 6.2% for indoor plants.

Social and political aspects of France

In France, the pleasure garden and the vegetable garden each seem to correspond to their own socio-cultural groups. Many farmers and workers tend to reserve space in their garden for the vegetable patch, while some executives and other managers do not hesitate to devote 100% of the surface to the pleasure garden. Likewise, gourmets and “environmentalists” will be keen to grow their own vegetables in their vegetable garden, while some people will reject the very idea of letting a single vegetable grow in their garden.

Like all human activities in Western societies, gardening does not escape a certain commodification; a whole economic activity has developed around this practice. Originally provided by seed mills, the marketing of plants and seeds is increasingly provided by garden centers which accompany it with a range of accessories and various treatment products and which are now part of the landscape of the areas. commercial centers of the big cities. Nurseries and green space maintenance companies complete the range of services available to individuals.

Gardening brings different joys to the gardener. The pleasure of outdoor activity and enjoying the result of your work: a pleasant lawn, a neat or on the contrary exuberant flowerbed, flowery, and nourishing many insects (butterflies, bees, hoverflies …), a shrub elegant, good fruits and vegetables, etc. That of working with natural materials: earth, wood, grass, seeds, flowers, and water. That of imagining and achieving the harmony of a landscape or allowing nature to express itself. Gardening also has a positive impact on human health, both physical and mental2,3: it helps to fight against bad eating habits, even to limit certain social or ecological injustices in access to food products, it is an exercise physical activity in the open air and a personal or sometimes collective creation (in shared gardens in particular) considered by many gardeners to be rewarding and helping to fight against stress4.

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