A history of Christchurch home gardening from colonisation to the Queen's visit: gardening culture in a particular society and environment
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Garden histories since the mid 1990s have increasingly turned to studies of vernacular gardens as sites of identity formation. More recently, the development of environmental history and specifically urban environmental history has started to show how vernacular gardening in suburban and urban spaces has contributed to changes in urban environments. Relatively little work on home gardening history in this sense has been undertaken in the New Zealand context, while in Australia such work is well underway. This study augments knowledge of home gardening history in New Zealand by focussing on one urban area, Christchurch, known both as the 'Garden City' and as 'one of the most English cities outside of England'. An examination of gardening literature over the period from European colonisation in 1850 to the first visit to the city by a reigning monarch in 1954 highlights changes in gardening tropes rather than particular garden fashions or elements. The four principal tropes of abundance, beauty, protection and sustenance, each supported with a particular kind of ritual-like garden competition, show how gardening discourses related to ideas about the maintenance of the social and cultural order. A more objective measure of attitudes to gardens is gained by examining 1823 property advertisements across the period. Categorised by suburb this analysis shows a level of gardening variation across the city. Following this analysis, case studies of four suburbs in three areas were undertaken. These were based primarily on oral histories and reveal the extent of gardening variation across the city, and the limited but significant effect that gardening discourses had on gardens. This suggests methodological problems with many studies of vernacular gardens, as well as opportunities for further studies. This thesis also demonstrates the value of home gardening histories to urban environmental history, particularly with regard to the former colonies of the British Empire.