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Managing conflicting desires in a garden plant; the case of the variegated daylily

Conference contribution
Authors Tina Westerlund
Katarina Saltzman
Carina Sjöholm
Published in The 8th Nordic Geographers Meeting, Trondheim, 16-19 juni 2019.
Publication year 2019
Published at The Craft Laboratory - National centre for crafts in conservation
Department of Conservation
Language en
Subject categories Horticulture, Human Geography, Ethnology

Abstract

Abstract for Nordic Geographers Meeting in Trondheim 16-19 June 2019 Session: The politics and places of plants Tina Westerlund, Department of Conservation, University of Gothenburg Katarina Saltzman, Department of Conservation, University of Gothenburg Carina Sjöholm, Department of Service Management and Service Studies, Lund university Managing conflicting desires in a garden plant; the case of the variegated daylily A gardener in Småland, southeastern Sweden, tells that her father cultivated a double daylily, Hemerocallis fulva, with variegated leaves in Stockholm in the mid 20th century. When she moved to Småland, 45 years ago, she brought a piece of his plant with her, and later on she has spread the plant to others. This daylily, known as "Kwanso Variegata", was first found in Japan in 1776, and since then it has been spread in gardens around the world, and is still sold in the garden market. The odd appearance is considered a result of mutations in the plant's gene set. Horticulturists have learned that the daylily itself strives to counteract the change that the mutation entails. In order for the plant to maintain its appearance, human efforts with repeated division and propagation of the desirable white-striped shoots is required, otherwise the leaves will eventually become completely green. Unlike many other garden plants, "Kwanso Variegata" has not been deliberately modified by humans through breeding. To preserve these qualities, generated by a natural mutation, the care needs to manage the fact that the plant slowly strives to return to its original appearance. This example shows that a horticulturist must relate to the plants' own processes and agencies. The interaction with garden plants and care for their maintenance, can thus also include conflict with the plant's own agencies. The daylily is striving to get away from the very qualities that gardeners, in Småland and elsewhere, have seen as particularly interesting.

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