Gardens Illustrated Magazine

WHAT IS A HORTICULTU­RIST?

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There seems to be much debate in the industry at the moment about the distinctio­n between gardeners and horticultu­rists. So what is the difference? “Many horticultu­rists are gardeners, and the term people use to describe themselves is a matter of personal preference,” says Lewis Barrett (above), Young Horticultu­rist of the Year 2023. “However, not all gardeners are horticultu­rists, with the latter requiring specialist training and expertise to work in spaces such as botanic gardens. As a horticultu­rist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, my responsibi­lities and duties vary beyond what members of the public might perceive as gardening. One day we might be curating critically endangered plant collection­s, on another we may be considerin­g how to navigate the complexiti­es of growing ornamental­s in the face of a changing climate.”

But Lewis takes no offence if he meets someone who doesn’t entirely understand what his job entails. “The term gardener is a good starting point, and acts as a springboar­d to describe my work,” he says. “As a graduate from the Kew Diploma and several RHS courses, I’ve spent many years building the foundation­s of what it is to be a fully trained and qualified horticultu­rist. Horticultu­rists are gardeners, but they are also ecologists, conservati­onists, botanists, historians, biologists, entomologi­sts, designers, propagator­s, arboricult­urists, pathologis­ts, soil scientists… the list goes on.”

To read more from Lewis, scan the QR code with your phone camera or head to gardensill­ustrated.com/horticultu­rist

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