OT: Horticulturalist/Horticulturist

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Wed, 18 Jan 2006 18:13:57 PST
Brook, I never heard the term horticulturalist until an announcer on a local
radio station used it a few years ago. Since then I'm hearing it more often.

As you have, I've often wondered what the word says. To me it sounds like a
word to describe dandies who took an interest in "things horticultural". I'm
winging this, so don't take me too seriously, but it's easy to imagine that
in nineteenth century England, where class and occupation distinctions were
taken very seriously, the word horticulturist suggested a mere gardener. And
heaven forbid that a gentleman should give the impression that he actually
made the sort of effort which might result in perspiration. Thus, or so I
imagine, horticulturalist: a dabbler in other words. 

But I may have it completely wrong.

As an example of this preoccupation with image, consider this. Only last
night I was reading Gertrude Jekyll (Home and Garden, chapter XI The
Workshop), and in a passage where she describes the workshop on the family
property, she mentions her father's interest in the place and the enjoyment
he took of the activities there. Just as I was forming mental images of her
father with his sleeves rolled up and the déclassé yet egalitarian drops
forming on his brow, she hastily adds that his enjoyment came from the
management of the staff who actually worked there. "His ability did not so
much consist in working at a bench himself, as in planning and directing the
handiwork of others." What a hoot! Evidently they cast in lead in that
workshop, so perhaps he called himself a "metallurgicalist". 

I don't mean to put this one on our friends on the other side of the pond;
we have our own in abundance, although nowadays we call them yuppies (does
that date me?). 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where Crocus korolkowii in
several forms has joined the party. 

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