Given the new direction profs are taking where you can catch up using nothing more than mats from the most recent expansion (cooking and now blacksmithing), is it perhaps time to eliminate the gathering professions? I mean eliminate them as professions. Instead, everyone would simply be able to gather any kind of mats. Or it could be built into the various professions: alchemy allows herb gathering, engineering allows mining, etc. Enchanting already works this way - you gather only by having the profession.
I've always found it annoying to have to level gathering professions. When I swap as a high level character, I have to spend ages in low level zones flying from spot to spot. As a low level character, it's somehow worse, because you out-level an area far before your profession is ready for you to move on (e.g. you're ready to move on to a new zone that no longer has kingsblood in it, but your herbalism isn't close to high enough to pick herbs in the new area).
Personally, I'd like to see them opened up to everyone, allowing any character to gather any material. I think tying the gathering ability to the primary profs is a decent second option. Thoughts?