Horticulture has been defined as the culture of plants for food, comfort and beauty. However, horticulture is different things to different people. It is a science on the cutting edge of biotechnology, an art, profession, business, industry, hobby, way-of-life, and therapy for millions of people. Each of us comes in contact with horticultural products and professions every day of our lives. Horticulture feeds us, improves our environment, and, through science, is helping find answers to tomorrow’s problems. National Junior Horticulture Association

The Civic Garden Center was founded in 1942 as a resource for gardeners in the region, specifically related to the Victory Garden movement. Horticulture plays a key role in all we do, from providing numerous educational opportunities to the regionally renowned annual Plant Sale each May. The grounds of the Civic Garden Center and the Hauck Botanic Garden are likewise a space for education, whether it be found in the herb or vegetable gardens, the diverse shade and sun plantings, and the growing palette of native options interspersed among the heritage collection of ornamentals and exotics accrued by Mr. Hauck.

Our horticulture program has only grown richer with a focus on stormwater collection in rain gardens and an extensive bioswale, as well as green roofs planted with ornamentals, edibles, and native prairie species.

We also offer an extensive series of lectures, presentations, and classes throughout the year, as well as opportunities for tours and field trips on the grounds. Of course, education goes both ways, and the horticultural mission of the CGC is richer from the knowledge of its volunteers such as the Dirt Crew, its student interns, and the tireless work of library volunteers to maintain and grow our library collection.

For every gardener, there is an opportunity to learn and share knowledge at the CGC, and the grounds and resources are always available to fulfill the original passions of Mr. Hauck and the mission set forward at the founding of the Civic Garden Center in 1942. Check out these volunteer, library, and education tabs to find your place at the CGC

Looking for a gardening related program for your class? Check out what we have to offer and get in touch with one of our education team to learn more and register.

How will climate change affect horticulture?

Climate change is already affecting horticulture. As global temperatures rise, plants are facing unique and unexpected challenges. In some regions, climate change is resulting in longer growing seasons, erratic and extreme weather events, and less (or more) rainfall. This makes an already unpredictable way of life even more uncertain. The horticulture industry is investing in helping to offer people a number of avenues to combat impacts of climate change. Software companies are creating hyper-accurate weather-forecasting programs; seed companies are using breeding technology to help plants be more tolerant of water-limited conditions; and many universities are researching how we can best manage unplanned shifts in temperature and rain—all factors connected to climate change, and all impacting plants.

Virginia bluebells used to flower at the end of April in these parts; now they appear at the beginning. The same is true for lilacs. These empirical realities are underpinned by scientific data showing that in recent decades, the oceans have warmed rapidly, the ice sheets are melting and the weather is more extreme, and experts believe that greenhouse gases from human activity are behind it.

Adapting your garden to a changing climate.

Gardeners, meanwhile, can think globally but act locally, one of those platitudes that has kept its cogency.

There’s an astonishing number of back yards in America. Together, they have 42 million acres of lawn — more than the acreage planted in corn. People ask, ‘What can I do?’ One thing you can do is phase out your lawn.

Gas-powered lawn and garden equipment produces a significant amount of carbon pollution. In addition, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are made by burning lots of natural gas.

Fertilizer runoff pollutes waterways but, as it breaks down, can also add to air pollution. When it comes to nutrient runoff, homeowners pollute at a rate 10 times greater than farmers, because homeowners often don’t understand what they’re doing.

Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to grow your own fruits and vegetables organically. The right tree, well placed, can shade your house and further reduce your energy consumption.

For environmentally savvy gardeners, there is another problem in distinguishing between freakish weather and climate change. Serious gardeners are so attuned to the vicissitudes of the elements that even the most extreme floods, droughts, storms and heat waves can be viewed as strangely normal.

Thanks to warming weather, temperate planting zones are creeping north. We have moved out of the territory of the kind of variation people are used to, and we are in new territory where it’s more extreme. Average temperatures have warmed, we have fewer colder nights — it’s not the same thing.

We’re developing a series of lectures on gardening techniques in this new environment. Because tomato and pepper plants reduce fruit set and suffer poor quality in extreme heat, we advise shielding them with shade cloth. Another approach is to sow winter cover crops in late summer as a way of excluding weeds (one of the plant beneficiaries of climate change) and enriching the soil without fertilizers.

Gardening simply requires greater vigilance than before; insect pests may have three generations a year instead of one, and you have to check them before they get out of hand.

Another strategy is to expand the range of plants in your garden to include those that can endure more cold, more heat, more drought.

Eventually it may mean incorporating plants from climates similar to ours but more extreme. These include trees and shrubs native to the Caucasus and more plants from Southern states.

We don’t know yet whether they will survive, but we need to broaden the palette of plants that might survive. Unfortunately, the patterns of change are not simply a case of plants that once worked in Georgia now growing dependably in Cincinnati because you’re still going to have colder weather than Atlanta.

There is no easy answer. It looks like we’ll need to be better-informed gardeners, be willing to experiment, pay attention to changes and talk to other gardeners.