Cultivating Success: The Importance of Education in Horticulture

Australian Garden Council
December 12, 2023

Cultivating Success: The Importance of Education in Horticulture 

From the AGC Education Committee

Gardening is a broad industry underpinned by both science and art. To garden well one must know the differences between thousands of different plants to make appropriate choices about which varieties to use where, and then how to tend to them in order to manage them to fulfil the intended aesthetic and functional purpose.


Horticultural education is even more important due to global challenges to climate stability, biodiversity, food security and human well-being.


Problems with horticultural education have been highlighted repeatedly for decades. The committee has observed that many governments and even industry led initiatives have been overly focused on the quantity of students studying horticulture.


The AGC Education Committee determined in October that priority should be given to improving the quality of horticultural education.


While quantity is often measured by graduation rates, quality education looks beyond mere numbers. Success is measured by the impact graduates have on the industry, their ability to innovate, and their contributions to sustainable practices. Quality education prioritises the long-term success and influence of graduates rather than the sheer volume of individuals passing through the educational system.


Quality education should be learning that:

  • Is broad in scope and depth
  • Is held in deep, long term memory
  • Significantly increases the student’s ability to perform at work

Learning is a Process

Effective horticultural education should be seen as a journey that is a complicated construction. It can only be built by blending a “real world” knowledge of what a gardener does with a sophisticated understanding of educational psychology.

It may start with the presentation of theoretical knowledge, but that knowledge must be revisited, reinforced and applied repeatedly in different contexts in order to deepen and broaden the capacity to apply it in practical situations which can be as varied and unpredictable as the tens of thousands of different plants we grow in our gardens.


As students revisit and apply skills in different situations, and repeatedly, our critical thinking, problem solving and ability to innovate grows.


Critical hands on skills such as propagating cuttings and pruning may appear repetitive and simple to the untrained eye, but every piece of plant that a gardener touches is different, and adjustments need to be made both in the way the brain processes those differences and how the hand muscles execute the physical tasks. Muscle memory can contribute if the muscles have had adequate practice in their training; and brain memory can work with those muscles only when a depth and breadth of knowledge has been embedded in the long term memory.




If gardeners choose and use plants inappropriately, they can create more problems than they solve. They can promote weeds, diseases, spread toxins in the air and damage buildings or drain pipes. If gardeners have a higher quality of education, they can create better environments, combat global warming, avoid problematic plant growth and contribute enormously to human health, prosperity and well-being.


In turn, the AGC wants to learn more about how garden professionals feel about their levels of horticultural education (whether starting out, already in industry or those who have left) through a national survey. Only taking 2 minutes to complete, the survey will help the AGC get an understanding in real time of how graduates (or soon to be) of horticulture education feel about the education they have received. The surveys will help uncover challenges and issues that may be prevalent across the industry. Identifying these challenges is the first step toward finding solutions and making necessary improvements, highlighting innovative practices and best-in-class approaches within the industry.

You can complete the survey here

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