Human-landscape relations and the occupation of space: experiencing and expressing domestic gardens

Paul Stenner, Andrew Church, Gurmukh Bhatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper reports findings from reserch project based on data from the Mass Observation Archive (1). Following a theoretical discussion of non-representational theory, we relate this thinking to psychosocial aspects of being in landscape, and then go on to explore how ‘ordinary’ people (who have contributed to this Archive) write about issues concerning their home gardens. We suggest four distinct modes of occupation that are useful in analysing some of the different ways in which these lay writers describe their garden and gardening experiences and activities. The naturalistic mode is occupied with the garden as expressive of ‘nature’; the nostalgic mode is occupied with memory, self-reflection and reverie; the pragmatic mode concerns tasks/activities that constitute the routine practices of gardening; and the mimetic mode is occupied with the interpersonal dynamics and processes of human social activity. It is hoped that this paper lends some empirical substance to recent theoretical and philosophical discussions on space, and speculations about why the home garden appears to be so significant to many people.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2012


  • landscape
  • nonrepresentational theory
  • domestic gardens
  • occupation
  • Mass Observation
  • narrative
  • subjectivity


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