Re-inventing gardens: A study in garden theory

1994 1994

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Abstract (summary)

With the rising interest in landscape and nature in the late 20th century, gardening has experienced a renewal in various fields of contemporary culture. This condition calls for a reinterpretation of gardening within a contemporary context. This study investigates three themes in gardening: the contemporary context of gardening, the approaches, both historical and contemporary, of constructing "garden," and the various meanings that are inherent to gardens.

The thesis presents a critique of three popular assumptions: first, that the garden is obsolete as a symbolic form; second, that gardening is simply a matter of form and technique; and third, that contemporary gardening is merely a practical activity which lacks value beyond that of "scenery," and "object."

First, this study discusses how gardening has been rediscovered both as a significant art-form and as a popular leisure and re-creational activity in the late 20th century. The revitalization of gardening is shown to be a particular evolving cultural force that ought to be characterized as "postmodern."

Second, the reinvention of traditional garden making techniques is discussed in an attempt to criticize current emphasis upon design and construction as either excessively aesthetic or instrumental. The revitalization of the reciprocity between mimesis and genius loci is intended as a way of granting meaning to garden making.

Third, this study discusses four meanings generated by gardens as "ordinary experience," "sensuality," "liminality," and "metaphor." Designing landscapes with an attention to meanings in contemporary practice will be discussed as an alternative design strategy as opposed to the prevalent convention of formalist design.

The thesis argues that gardening is always staging and binding the duality between word and image, immediate experience and metaphor, imagination and reality. Through mediating and reconciling conflicts between culture and nature, creative garden making can pose the possibility of ethical living. A sustained theoretical inquiry suggests that reading/writing/(re)making should be the modes for reinventing garden and that garden theory/history should be restored as the core of landscape architectural theory and practice.

Indexing (details)

Urban planning;
Area planning & development;
Fine Arts
0729: Architecture
0999: Urban planning
0999: Area planning & development
0357: Fine Arts
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; landscape architecture
Re-inventing gardens: A study in garden theory
Zoh, Kyung-Jin
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 56/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Frascari, Marco
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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