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Gardens and stewardship

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Zagorski, T (2007) Gardens and stewardship. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The primary focus of this thesis is the local suburban garden. The interactions among
gardeners, gardening activity, ethical viewpoints, and environments that take place in
this setting are investigated from within the context of the historical traditions and
contemporary understandings of stewardship. The foundational premise of the thesis
is that people are motivated by an ecological impulse that draws them to be involved
with the Earth. It is argued that the ecological impulse is manifested in the space of
the local suburban garden. It is also argued that a stewardship ethic is evident in
much contemporary gardening practice. It is further argued that this gardening
stewardship ethic extends from the genius loci of the garden to inform a broader
global ecological impulse. Ultimately gardens are portals through which to examine
the changing relationship between the human and the more than human world.
Throughout the history of humanity, interactions between humans and the more than
human world have resulted in humans altering that world often with damaging
consequences. Since hunter-gatherer and early agricultural times, the degree of
modification was marginal. More recently however the scale of modification has
intensified, manifesting itself as an ‘ecological crisis’. This crisis represents a major
rupture in the relationship between humans and the more than human world. Some
gardens are also identified as contributing to the crisis. Stewardship, as a time
honoured and well practiced code of conduct towards the garden, is presented as an
ethical basis for addressing the rupture in that relationship.

This study first explores the antecedents and contemporary meanings of stewardship
as a means to investigate the significance of gardens in shaping human relationships
to with the more than human world. Second, data on species composition and
richness in gardens was obtained and used as critical material evidence for exploring
gardeners’ attitudes to, and practices within gardens in Hobart Tasmania. Third,
qualitative interviews and case studies with gardeners investigated reasons why
people garden, and examined how gardening practices reflect a sense of stewardship.
Themes evident in the interviews revolved around gardeners’ urge to garden, the
implementation of specific gardening practices that have an ethical basis and respect
the integrity of the garden, the recognition of the interconnectedness of gardeners,
other life forms and processes within the garden, and gardeners’ sense of relationship
with their garden connecting with the greater garden of Earth. Literature on
stewardship was used to inform the analysis of interview material to identify various
manifestations of a sense of stewardship in attitudes and practices of gardeners. It is
concluded that the garden is a site where various manifestations of the sense of
stewardship are evident and that these manifestations of stewardship inform a greater
ecological consciousness.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

© 2007 the Author

Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2009 04:02
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:54
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