Gardens have been considered predominately in terms of a nature-culture binary, with nature positioned as a passive object of human control. Placing the human at the centre of the garden, these perspectives understand this space in terms of human cultures, needs and understandings. This paper critiques these perspectives, questioning whether gardens are ever simply human constructions. Actor-network theory (ANT) provides a framework for this research, which examines human-nature relations through a focus on the material processes of gardening. Drawing on interviews with suburban gardeners in northern Sydney and the analysis of two popular gardening magazines, the research shows that gardening entails an embodied engagement between active human and non-human actors. Involving processes of collaboration, negotiation, challenge and competition, gardening is a dynamic process. Describing human relations with the plants of the garden, this research argues for gardens to be understood as hybrid achievements.
- nature-culture dualisms
- actor-network theory