There are ten essays in Gardens of History and Imagination, each of which examines the role of gardens and gardening in the settlement of New South Wales and in growing a colony and a state. They explore the significance of gardens for the health of the colony, for its economy, for the construction of social order and moral worth. No less do they reveal the significance of forming and reforming personal identities in this process.
For the immigrants gardening was an act of settlement; it was also a statement of possession for individuals and for Britain. For a long time it was with memories of ‘home’, often selective and idealised, that settlers made gardens but as the colony developed its own character so did gardening possibilities and practices.
This project has been researched and written by members of the New South Wales Chapter of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia, Inc.
Janet Marinelli left her comfortable city garden to join a botanist colleague in search of the rare Seabeach Amaranth--one of our many native species that is in danger of extinction. The result of the ensuing seven-year odyssey, Stalking the Wild Amaranth is a work of science and a work of art. Marinelli tells the story of her discovery that contemporary gardening is out of sync with theories evolving on the frontiers of science and philosophy. She also tells of her quest for a new garden art that nurtures a greater richness and variety of earthly life. Inspired by the legacy of Henry David Thoreau, Marinelli blends history, horticulture, erudition, and personal insight into a narrative that ponders the relationship between humankind and nature. She fleshes out a vision for a new, ecologically wise landscape art, disagreeing ultimately with those who insist that growing native plants is the only way to recover our environmental equilibrium. Gardeners, she writes, should be free to experiment, to let our imaginations run wild, to learn how to be the creators of biodiversity as well as the preservers and restorers.