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Relics and intruders. Managing plants in motion in the private garden

Conference contribution
Authors Katarina Saltzman
Carina Sjöholm
Allan Gunnarsson
Published in The Permanent Conference for the Study of the Rural Landscape (PECSRL), 8-12 September 2014, Göteborg/Mariestad
Pages 209
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Conservation
Pages 209
Language en
Subject categories Nature conservation and landscape management, Ethnology


Gardens, as all landscapes, are constantly changing and involve many kinds of movement and motion. Changes connected to the cycles of the year, of day and night, and the life cycles of individuals are intermingled and combined with decisions and actions of human and non-human actors. This presentation will discuss people’s relations to plants that are in motion, moving within and between gardens. It is based on an on-going trans-disciplinary research project, examining the complex interactions between people, plants and other actors in contemporary, private gardens in Sweden. Despite their rootedness, plants do move and are moved between different places in the garden, and from one garden to another. In many private gardens there are plants with a history, where owners can tell stories about how it was brought in from a different location, for example from an old relative or from a journey. These plants are often regarded as relics or souvenirs, and receive special attention and care. Other plants move by themselves in and between gardens, through spreading seeds, winding roots or rhizomes. In some situations these can be regarded as welcome gifts and contributions, in other situations as fierce intruders that need to be controlled. A number of species are in some gardens regarded as useful and pretty, and in other gardens despised as weeds. Some gardeners describe their fight against specific weeds in terms of a continuous war. The project includes a critical examination of dichotomies such as nature/culture, heritage/change, private/public and work/leisure, and research is carried out through qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews and ethnographic observations.

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