The Irish horticultural industry is an important economic sector in Ireland; the sector encompasses vegetables, fruits, ornamentals, flower bulbs, trees, mushrooms and protected crops. Within these sub-sectors, Teagasc research and development support this modern, progressive and dynamic sector in meeting the challenges ahead and capitalising on the opportunities of the future. This has culminated in a sector output valued at 350m farm gate. We work directly with all the sectors to advance their research agendas and meet the development needs as outlined in Food Wise 2025 and the Teagasc Statement of Strategy.
Horticulture is the art and science of the cultivation of plants.
In 2017 the farmgate value of Horticultural output was €433m. The key crops in the Food Horticulture sector include Mushrooms, Potatoes, Field Vegetables, Outdoor Fruit and Protected Crops which have a combined value of €379m. The key crops in the Amenity Horticulture sector include Nursery Stock Production, Protected Flowers/Ornamentals, Christmas Trees, Cut Foliage and Bulbs which have a total value of €63m.
The key market for the Horticultural Industry is the domestic market. The main outlet for fresh produce is the domestic retail market which is valued at €1.54bn. The other notable outlet for fresh produce is the foodservice sector which is valued at €396m at wholesale prices.
The top 10 vegetable crops (including salad lines) purchased in the retail market in value terms are Tomato (€112m); Carrots (€63m); Peppers (€58m); Mushrooms (€56m); Broccoli (€33m); Onions (€33m); Lettuce (€30m); Cucumbers (€17m); Cabbage (€16m); Spring Onion (€10m) – 75% value of the vegetable sector of the market (source: Kantar Worldpanel).
The College of Amenity Horticulture is located at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, 5km north west of the city centre and is accessible by the 4, 9 and 83 buses.
Having our college located in the National Botanic Gardens provides students with a unique training opportunity. There is a strong tradition of training at the National Botanic Gardens dating back to 1812.
Floriculture – This area of horticulture focuses on the cultivation of flowers (cut and potted) and foliage. Flower arrangement also fall under this header.
Pomology – If you love to eat delicious fruit, then pomology may interest you. This branch of horticulture revolves around production and cultivation of fruit crops.
Nursery/Plant Propagation – The development and dissemination of plant seeds, shrubs, trees, ornamental plants, and ground covering is the focus of this area of horticulture. Typically these plants are used in landscaping or interior plantscaping projects.
Landscape Horticulture – Ever wonder who develops those beautiful parks and indoor garden environments? Landscape horticulturists design, construct, and take care of landscapes in homes, businesses, and public areas. They choose plants for their aesthetic appeal and practicality and arrange them in ways that are pleasing and conform to the needs of their clients.
Commercial horticulture involves the growing and selling of food crops and ornamental plants. In the area of food production it is the horticulturist who faces the challenge of growing the fruit and the vegetables that we eat. The Department of Agriculture reports that growing potatoes and mushrooms are currently the two biggest areas of employment in this sector. Producing these crops is a very technical business, involving automated systems, controlled using state of the art computer technology, alongside traditional skills. Commercial horticulture includes floristry and retail horticulture too.
Amenity Horticulture includes gardening, landscaping, designing and a whole lot more. It starts with the design and construction of recreational areas. These can be parks, nature reserves, wildlife gardens, and roadside plantings, amongst other designed landscapes. Amenity areas can be public, as with local authority parks, and roadside plantings, so important to wildlife. They can also be private, as in stately homes, apartment complexes and so on.
See other sections for more information on each area and many examples of the sector.
There are lots horticulture related videos on YouTube. We have collected a few on this page but you can see many more here …
The average bulb grower in Holland sells almost $200,000 worth of bulbs every year, most to cut flower growers who use the bulbs for growing flowers, then toss them out and buy new ones the next year. The Dutch bulb growers have found flower bulbs are one of the most profitable plants.
The Christmas tree industry contributes €25m to the Irish economy, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
With 7-10 years of work going into producing a good quality Christmas tree, the quality of Christmas trees produced in Ireland has increased significantly in recent years. This improvement is due to increased expertise being employed to manage and prepare trees for more discerning customers.
Christmas trees—unlike most crops—take much longer than a single season to reach maturity. “Christmas trees can take eight to 10 years from planting until harvest,” says Tom Harbinson, facilities & hospitality manager of the Jones Family Farms and Winery in Shelton, Conn. “That is a long-term commitment to the crop that a farmer should be aware of going into it.”
Historically, farmers often chose imperfect fields for growing Christmas trees, but if you want to give your trees the best start in life, choose a field with well-drained soil. Christmas trees won’t grow well in wet conditions. And though it’s easy to think that the trees will simply grow themselves without any maintenance, that isn’t the case.
“It is a crop that does still need care, such as pruning and shaping—making sure a single leader points upward to eventually hold a star or angel for a family’s tradition—as well as being aware of diseases that can attack and diminish a tree,” Harbinson says. Each tree must be sheared every summer once they have reached 3 years of age and roughly 5 feet in height to ensure that the branches grow thickly and form a beautiful Christmas tree shape.
The environment is an important part of everyday life. There are many things that can improve the world we live in. One way that people can contribute to improving our habitat is with gardening. Gardening has numerous benefits to the economy. Planting seeds to produce food allows for an increase in productivity in local communities. Large gardens that grow food will increase the supply of produce in grocery store chains. It allows individuals to shop and purchase products that are fresh and healthy for their families. Here are a few ways that the process of gardening can increase the health of the environment.
Coillte are privileged to be custodians of 7% of Ireland’s land. Our forests and land now extend to over 440,000 hectares. Over the last 30 years, we have cared for and developed our estate and businesses while being firmly focused on maximising the financial and social potential of these natural resources in a sustainable way.
Ireland was left with very few native tree species following the Ice Age and a changing climate. Over the centuries, Ireland experienced a near-total destruction of its forests mainly because of human activity and a deterioration of the climate: from an initial forest cover of around 80% to less than 1%. Ireland is the only country in Europe where such complete forest destruction took place.
The forests of Ireland are very diverse, ranging from commercial plantations to native woodlands, to trees and woods in and around our towns and cities. The range of benefits from Ireland’s forest cover is also diverse, extending beyond basic timber production to encompass employment, bio-diversity, wildlife conservation, environmental protection, rural development, carbon sequestration, amenity and recreation, and tourism. Although considerable overlap does occur, the forests of Ireland can be roughly divided into five basic types: upland and peatland forests; farm forests; native woodlands; amenity forests; and urban forests.
Ireland’s growers produce about 8000 tonnes of fresh strawberries per year worth an estimated 43 million Euro. The English cultivar ‘Malling Centenary’ is the most popular cultivar grown. The Dutch cultivar ‘Elsanta’ had been the most popular cultivar grown for the 40 years. Protected strawberry production is now the mainstay of the soft fruit industry in Ireland. Protective cropping has a number of distinct advantages for the grower including;
Strawberries can now be supplied, and are in demand from March right through to November. To meet this demand many growers use a combination of growing systems
QQI Level 5 students are introduced to fruit production by covering the following crops (soft fruit, canned fruit, bush fruit and top fruit to name but a few). Both indoor and outdoor fruit crops are being covered at this level.
Within the orchard in Kildalton and in the fruit & veg garden in Ashtown which have all the fruits listed above, students’ get hands on experience a half day per week on practical skills like pruning, planting, erecting supports. The theory of growing each crop is covered and the outline of the industry as a whole. Students also visit growers to enhance their knowledge on crops and machinery.
Students get exposed to all elements of crop production, from soil preparation, crop spacing, supports, weed, and pest and disease controls by cultural & in the use of IPM.
QQI Advanced level 6 students specialise in mainly two subject areas:
• Market Gardening where all students get the chance to build on their knowledge from QQI level 5. This is a very extensive module both fruit and vegetables are covered with all growing procedures from soils, ploughing, tilling, planting, and fertilizing. Students are also encouraged to set up a maintenance programme for each crop covered.
• Horticultural Production Mechanisation is delivered to all students that take this module this will broaden their knowledge in machinery use and maintenance. Covering the use of a plough and tilling equipment.
• Year 1 Horticultural skills, Plant protection, and Horticulture Mechanisation & Safety.
• Year 2 Sustainable food Production.
• Year 3 students can do a project on an area of their choice, so if they have specialised in food production and Mechanisation stream they can develop their knowledge more by completing a research project in this area.
All students undertake placement throughout the programs we offers for example:
QQI Level 5 Students they could have the choice to go to an OPW walled garden in the Phoenix park or Fruit and veg walled garden in National Botanic gardens or they can go on a 4 week placement with a registered grower.
Garden centres are very traditional businesses. The combination of a wide product range and expert advice is appealing to customers, particularly those looking to undertake a significant project such as garden renovation.
Starting a garden centre will require a mix of skills. Firstly you’ll need strong business skills such as accounting, knowledge of profit and loss, awareness of cash flow and marketing and PR. As well as these general business skills, you’ll need a strong horticultural and industry background/knowledge, including:
Modern Garden centres are not confined to just selling plants but may have a wide range of business areas.
Garden design is the art and process of designing and creating plans for layout and planting of gardens and landscapes. Garden design may be done by the garden owner themselves, or by professionals of varying levels of experience and expertise. Most professional garden designers have some training in horticulture and the principles of design. Some are also landscape architects, a more formal level of training that usually requires an advanced degree and often a state license.
Value to the economy
This market has two elements, domestic services and commercial services. It is estimated that the domestic services market will be worth a total of €136m in the year ending December 2018, which would represent an increase of almost 10% on the estimated value of €124m for 2016. There are four main service type categories in this market and their estimated values for 2018 are Garden Design €17m, Garden Maintenance €52m, Garden Makeover €38 and Tree Surgeon €30m. The commercial landscaping services market had attained a recorded level of about €800m before the recession. It is now estimated to have recovered to about €500m and is growing annually. (Bord Bia)
Horticultural therapy (or therapeutic horticulture) is the engagement of a person in gardening and plant-based activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific therapeutic treatment goals. The visual aesthetics of plants are known to elicit feelings of inner peace, which generates positive emotions toward a meaningful appreciation of life. Direct contact with plants guides the individual’s focus away from stress enhancing their overall quality of life.
Social and therapeutic horticulture is the process of using plants and gardens to improve physical and mental health, as well as communication and thinking skills.
Landscape Contractors carry out a variety of landscaping works for private, commercial and public authority clients. These include the design and construction of gardens and public spaces, hard (driveways, walls, stone work, patios, paving, etc) and soft (lawn installation, planting) landscaping, the maintenance of landscapes and grounds (grass & hedge cutting, weeding, etc), and more specialist services such as tree planting and care, water features, outdoor lighting.
The branch of horticulture which deals with the art and knowledge of development and plantation of ornamental plants by arranging them in such manner with the existing plants and structures to beautify a place maintain natural scenery, maybe called landscape horticulture.
On the other hand, landscaping may be defined as the use of plants outdoors to fulfil aesthetic and functional purposes. The term is identified with the outdoors, even though plants can be used to accomplish similar objectives indoors.
Landscaping is an activity in which beauty as well as function, may be determined by the customer.
To one person, landscaping may mean a couple of fruit trees or just plants on the property. To another customer, plants in the landscape must not only be careful selected but also strategically arranged. A beautiful home or an institution with well landscaped ground not only increase the value of the property but also increase the usefulness of the property.
The area of amenity horticulture is a vast area, it includes many facets of horticulture from design, fruit and vegetable production, plant identification, plant propagation, soil science and growing media, these all are essential for working in Amenity horticulture.
This market has two elements, domestic services and commercial services. It is estimated that the domestic services market will be worth a total of €136m in the year ending December 2018, which would represent an increase of almost 10% on the estimated value of €124m for 2016. There are four main service type categories in this market and their estimated values for 2018 are Garden Design €17m, Garden Maintenance €52m, Garden Makeover €38 and Tree Surgeon €30m. The commercial landscaping services market had attained a recorded level of about €800m before the recession. It is now estimated to have recovered to about €500m and is growing annually.
The Level 5 course delivered at the Botanic gardens offers a wonderful foundation to students embarking on a career in horticulture. Our students spend one to two days a week working in both private and public gardens/parks; here they have a great opportunity to work alongside craft gardeners who teach our students essential skills required to become a manger or gardener in the relevant areas of choice. Excellent experience working with some of the best gardeners in the country.
Garden and parks supervision is a component of a the Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture(Landscaping), all elements learnt in Level 5 such as Plant ID and Use, Biodiversity and the natural environment, Plant propagation, Soil science and growing media, Plant Protection, Landscape construction and maintenance, Garden design will feed directly into this module. During the year at the college the students will be able to learn what is involved in the management of a park or garden through visits to private and public estates and meeting the managers.
Within all our courses students undertake placements, many students working in the parks and gardens have gained valuable experience working alongside passionate gardeners who have shared generously there knowledge all the day to day workings of their profession.