Back in 1841, when businessmen William Bradbury and Charles Wentworth Dilke persuaded botanist John Lindley and leading gardener of the day Joseph Paxton to launch a national magazine for gardeners, the first postage stamp, the penny black, had just been introduced.
The Great Western Railway from London to Bristol had just been completed, a young Queen Victoria had just married Prince Albert and Charles Dickens was in the throes of serialising his fourth major novel, The Old Curiosity Shop, in his weekly printed magazine.
Now 175 years on and we have Twitter instead of the penny black. NASA is working on a manned fight to Mars and, as Horticulture Week editor Kate Lowe reminded figures from across the industry who gathered earlier this month to celebrate 175 years since the founding of HW forerunner The Gardeners' Chronicle, aspiring novelists serialise their first works for download on the web.
But, said Lowe, while so much has changed the "magical ingredients" that lie at the heart of the industry we all know and love have remained just the same. "The thirst for knowledge, the indefatigable drive for technical innovation, the innate understanding of horticulture professionals of the benefit to society of the sector's many products and, underlying it all, an unstoppable passion for plants."
Opening the event, Haymarket Media Group chief executive Kevin Costello highlighted the special relationship Haymarket has with the horticulture industry. "A relationship of longevity and family that spans the company internationally," he told guests.
Reminding guests of Haymarket owner Lord Heseltine's lifelong passion for horticulture as the proud owner of a 70-acre arboretum and ornamental gardens and a vice-president of the RHS since 2009, Costello pointed to Haymarket's leadership of horticulture trade publishing in Germany, where Haymarket's portfolio of horticulture brands includes TASPO, which is the number-one publication for commercial horticulture in Germany.
Meanwhile, here in the UK activities in the land-based sector include Cereals, the largest arable show in the UK, and Fruit Focus, the leading technical event for the fruit-production sector.
Also speaking at the event was Neville Stein, on behalf of charity partner Perennial, who urged everyone in the industry to act as the eyes and ears of the organisation, which has been helping horticulturists in need since 1839.
Addressing guests, Lowe said HW is blessed with being part of an amazing community and an extended family of expert contributors who share their knowledge and expertise through our pages, practitioners providing thoughtful comments on the issues of the day and clients who have helped HW to reward and celebrate the best in the industry.
Some have been sharing in that project for literally decades - from Geoff Dixon, who has been writing for HW for 50 years this year, to Les Lane, who was an early GC & HTJ "cover star" with an advert for Nutricote in 1979. In 1985 John Adlam introduced readers to something called the "micro-computer", while Peter Seabrook has been "keeping us all on our toes for more than 50 years".
Special mention was made to technical editor Sally Drury, who has driven HW's technical coverage for 34 years. Through her kit tests and market reports on professional machinery, Drury is recognised as having played a crucial role in keeping the industry up to date, informed and on top of all the latest developments.
Lowe closed by thanking all "in our very special horticulture community" for all they have done to help us keep this great magazine serving this great industry, "ensuring that the ambitions of the founders of The Gardeners' Chronicle to make their paper 'the gardener's friend' continue to hold true for horticulture today".
Silver medals on show at reception
Former Horticulture Week editor Spence Gunn took the opportunity of HW's 175th anniversary reception and exhibition to formally pass on two silver medals that have been in the safekeeping of former editors since they were first given to The Gardeners' Chronicle in 1903 and 1909.
The medals were passed to Gunn when he was editor in the 1990s by the wife of another former editor.
Given the many changes that The Gardeners' Chronicle has been through since the early 20th century, little is known about the origin of the medals, except that they appear to have been presented at two international horticulture festivals - one in Ghent, Belgium, and one in Berlin, Germany.
Needless to say, the HW team will be heading off to the archives again - and will report back on their findings soon.
- See our photo gallery of the celebrations here: http://bit.ly/28ShhEP