To say that gardening is an old hobby would be a glaring understatement. It is probably more accurate to say that gardening was the very FIRST hobby.
Gardening is defined as the creation of a protected space for growing plants. All evidence points to these activities starting about the same time. When man began to become more domesticated and give up his nomadic ways.
Switching to an agricultural existence
Ten thousand years ago is when ancient man started to cultivate his own food. Growing plants appears to have been associated with death and funeral rituals; and the possible belief in resurrection as well. Paintings found in Egyptian tombs depict trees and plants laid out in evenly placed rows. This arrangement could only mean they were purposely planted and tended.
There are many of mysteries about the goings on of this era because there are no written records. The biggest mystery is why man was compelled to convert to a plant-based existence in the first place. Especially after millions of years of successful hunting and gathering ? Another question is how did our ancestors gain the skills needed to select and domesticate edible plants. Not just a few plants either. They were clever enough to provide food enough for large populations to survive on.
Gardening for pleasure
Some of the plants that were developed and used for food during this period are truly miraculous. Maize for instance was not an easy food to create. Apparently from a type of grass. Much experimental gardening, and possibly dining, must have been going on. There is also evidence that gardening meant more to some early humans than just survival. There are indications that many plants were grown and cultivated simply because people liked doing so.
Aesthetics of the outdoors
The motivations to live among pleasing landscapes are as powerful today as they were long ago. Gardening it seems, is a form of living art, an expression of an individual’s connection with nature. I am always impressed when I see both home and yard equally well tended. Where the landscape is a reflection of the homeowner’s taste and talent. Not an afterthought.