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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 391: Horticulture in Human life, Culture and Environment

THE ROLE OF HORTICULTURE IN HUMAN HISTORY AND CULTURE

Author:   W.Z. Zhou
Keywords:   History of horticulture, Horticultural culture, People-plant interaction, Plants and social customs, Plants and arts, Symbolic meanings of plants, Truths of gardens
Abstract:
By reviewing the history of the development of horticulture, the author holds that the role of plants in the evolution of civilization reaches far beyond food, fiber, and medicine. All aspects of human culture are rich with references and meanings regarding plants since they have played an integral role in the development of our civilization. Different species of plants have different cultural backgrounds and symbolic meanings, which still greatly influences modern plant preferences and uses in our social life.

As we move into the decade of the environment, it is obvious that the garden plays an important role in environmental improvement. However, the value of the garden in our spiritual civilization will be paid more and more attention, too, because the garden is an art to express the highest truths of religion and philosophy, and has been used as a haven for reflection by philosophers and as a source of inspiration and a symbol of virtue/vice by artists and poets. Plants and nature are woven into the unconscious mind of humans and serve as a source of spiritual renewal.

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