What is a gardener?

Many years ago Charles would refuse to ‘own’ his part of the garden because he declared that he couldn’t properly claim to be a gardener. He appeared to be giving the term considerable status.

Then recently a friend sent me a card with this image on it.

picture of a gardener

I realise I am supposed to identify with this image – it’s a stereotypic gardener, as in the online  definition (Definitions from Oxford Languages

A person who tends and cultivates a garden as a pastime or for a living.

Yep, it’s a ‘pastime’ – for all you lot who find you don’t quite know what to do with the yawning gap of empty time between you and the grave.  If you’re a bloke, and English, you may well embrace this definition, along with calling your wife ‘her indoors’.

Perhaps though, when you view the jolly picture above, you may be wondering just what status you have in the wider world. You might just rush to embrace an alternative which has crept out of our garden dirt: a horticulturalist

An expert in or student of garden cultivation and management.

= ‘she was a trained horticulturalist who knew how to make a garden bloom’ 

Feeling better now? I like that you  qualify whether you are an expert or a student. Some would say you’re always a student of this particular discipline. 

Does it matter how the world sees you?

Well, personally I think that is one thing that we all declare we are totally indifferent to, while actually caring very deeply about it. Nothing lowers your status so quickly, you think, as acknowledging that you might care about your status.

But, if any of us feel we can afford to discuss this, we might consider just what kind of people we might tolerate lumping ourselves together with? 

A florist ?

A person who sells and arranges cut flowers.
Flower arranger?
 A person who creates decorative displays with cut flowers.
“the spectacular displays were put up by 400 flower arrangers”

A cook?

A person who prepares and cooks food, especially as a job or in a specified way.

‘Susan was a school cook’

A chef?

A builder? 

By The BBC - bbc.com, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37342560

A musician? Considered here: https://gardenrant.com/2021/02/gardens-and-music.html

An environmentalist? I suspect this has become a very popular possibility as a status to embrace alongside ‘gardener’.

An artist? This was discussed once under the auspices of the Royal Horticultural Society so this link may help you consider that one. https://thinkingardens.co.uk/events/are-gardens-art-review-by-helen-gazeley/

Oprah Winfrey?!

A plantsperson or plantsman ? Wikipedia declares

A plantsman is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable gardener (amateur or professional), nurseryman or nurserywoman. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantsman

I may be out of my depth now, as a Non American – but perhaps a ‘Master Gardener’? To save my ignorance, Dave’s Garden has tackled that one: https://davesgarden.com/guides/terms/go/568/#b

What about me? Well, I discussed this question for myself in an article in the RHS magazine, The Garden: – https://veddw.com/general/how-do-we-define-gardeners-by-anne-wareham/

And concluded that I would define myself as a ‘garden maker’.

I’m also, without doubt, a snob.

Ben Probert

But here’s a guy who has struggled with this too.

Ben Probert portrait

Ben Probert

Modest, knowledgeable, thoughtful, observant, communicative and a professional. Lucky the people he works for.

See https://bensbotanics.co.uk/ or follow him on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/bensbotanics/?hl=en

I hope he’ll forgive me for pinching an Instagram post of his (chosen randomly) to give you an idea of what he has to say:

Ben's Botanics Instagram post

He honours the title ‘gardener’.

PS I’ve just come across a “Horticulture development specialist”.