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Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants as part of horticulture. In gardens, ornamental plants are often grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants, such as root vegetables, leaf vegetables, fruits, and herbs, are grown for consumption, for use as dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use.  
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A gardener is someone who practices gardening, either professionally or as a hobby. Gardening is considered to be a relaxing activity for many people.

Gardening ranges in scale from fruit orchards, to long boulevard plantings with one or more different types of shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants, to residential yards including lawns and foundation plantings, to plants in large or small containers grown inside or outside. Gardening may be very specialized, with only one type of plant grown, or involve a large number of different plants in mixed plantings. It involves an active participation in the growing of plants, and tends to be labor intensive, which differentiates it from farming or forestry.
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Gardeners

A gardener is any person involved in gardening, arguably the oldest occupation, from the hobbyist in a residential garden, the homeowner supplementing the family food with a small vegetable garden or orchard, to an employee in a plant nursery or the head gardener in a large estate.

The term gardener is also used to describe garden designers and landscape gardeners, who are involved chiefly in the design of gardens, rather than the practical aspects of horticulture.

Garden features and accessories

There is a wide range of features and accessories available in the market for both the professional gardener and the amateur to exercise their creativity. These are used to add decoration or functionality, and may be made from a wide range of materials such as copper, stone, wood, bamboo, stainless steel, clay, stained glass, concrete or iron. Examples include trellis, arbors, statues, benches, water fountains, urns, bird baths and feeders, and garden lighting such as candle lanterns and oil lamps. The use of these items can be part of the expression of a gardener's gardening personality.

Gardening departments and centers

Gardening departments and centers mainly sell plants, sundries, and garden accessories, but in recent times, many now stock outdoor leisure products as diverse as spas, furniture, and barbecues. Many garden centers now include food halls, and sections for clothing, gifts, pets, and power tools. There are also a number of online garden centers that now deliver direct to customers' doors.
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Comparison with Farming

Gardening for beauty is likely nearly as old as farming for food, however for most of history for the majority of people there was no real distinction since the need for food and other useful product trumped other concerns. Small-scale, subsistence agriculture (called hoe-farming) is largely indistinguishable from gardening. A patch of potatoes grown by a Peruvian peasant or an Irish smallholder for personal use could be described as either a garden or a farm. Gardening for average people evolved as a separate discipline, more concerned with esthetics and recreation, under the influence of the pleasure gardens of the wealthy. Meanwhile farming has evolved (in developed countries) in the direction of commercialization, economics of scale, and monocropping.

In respect to its food producing purpose, gardening is distinguished from farming chiefly by scale and intent. Farming occurs on a larger scale, and with the production of salable goods as a major motivation. Gardening is done on a smaller scale, primarily for pleasure and to produce goods for the gardener's own family or community. There is some overlap between the terms, particularly in that some moderate-sized vegetable growing concerns, often called market gardening, can fit in either category.

The key distinction between gardening and farming is essentially one of scale; gardening can be a hobby or an income supplement, but farming is generally understood as a full-time or commercial activity, usually involving more land and quite different practices. One distinction is that gardening is labor-intensive and employs very little infrastructural capital, sometimes no more than a few tools, e.g. a spade, hoe, basket and watering can. By contrast, larger-scale farming often involves irrigation systems, chemical fertilizers and harvesters or at least ladders, e.g. to reach up into fruit trees. However, this distinction is becoming blurred with the increasing use of power tools in even small gardens.

In part because of labor intensity and aesthetic motivations, gardening is very often much more productive per unit of land than farming. In the Soviet Union, half the food supply came from small peasants' garden plots on the huge government-run collective farms, although they were tiny patches of land. Some argue this as evidence of superiority of capitalism, since the peasants were generally able to sell their produce. Others consider it to be evidence of a tragedy of the commons, since the large collective plots were often neglected, or fertilizers or water redirected to the private gardens.

The term precision agriculture is sometimes used to describe gardening using intermediate technology (more than tools, less than harvesters), especially of organic varieties. Gardening is effectively scaled up to feed entire villages of over 100 people from specialized plots. A variant is the community garden which offers plots to urban dwellers; see further in allotment (gardening).
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Gardens as art

Garden design is considered to be an art in most cultures, distinguished from gardening, which generally means garden maintenance. Garden design can include different themes such as perennial, butterfly, wildlife, Japanese, water, tropical, or shade gardens. In Japan, Samurai and Zen monks were often required to build decorative gardens or practice related skills like flower arrangement known as ikebana. In 18th-century Europe, country estates were refashioned by landscape gardeners into formal gardens or landscaped park lands, such as at Versailles, France, or Stowe, England. Today, landscape architects and garden designers continue to produce artistically creative designs for private garden spaces. Professional landscape designers are certified by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.
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Social aspects

People can express their political or social views in gardens, intentionally or not. The lawn vs. garden issue is played out in urban planning as the debate over the "land ethic" that is to determine urban land use and whether hyper hygienist bylaws (e.g. weed control) should apply, or whether land should generally be allowed to exist in its natural wild state. In a famous Canadian Charter of Rights case, "Sandra Bell vs. City of Toronto", 1997, the right to cultivate all native species, even most varieties deemed noxious or allergenic, was upheld as part of the right of free expression.

Community gardening comprises a wide variety of approaches to sharing land and gardens.

People often surround their house and garden with a hedge. Common hedge plants are privet, hawthorn, beech, yew, leyland cypress, hemlock, arborvitae, barberry, box, holly, oleander, forsythia and lavender. The idea of open gardens without hedges may be distasteful to those who enjoy privacy. This may have an advantage to local wildlife by providing a habitat for birds, animals, and wild plants.

The Slow Food movement has sought in some countries to add an edible school yard and garden classrooms to schools, e.g. in Fergus, Ontario, where these were added to a public school to augment the kitchen classroom. Garden sharing, where urban landowners allow gardeners to grow on their property in exchange for a share of the harvest, is associated with the desire to control the quality of one's food, and reconnect with soil and community.

In US and British usage, the production of ornamental plantings around buildings is called landscaping, landscape maintenance or grounds keeping, while international usage uses the term gardening for these same activities.

Also gaining popularity is the concept of "Green Gardening" which involves growing plants using organic fertilizers and pesticides so that the gardening process - or the flowers and fruits produced thereby - doesn't adversely affect the environment or people's health in any manner.
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