Birth, Death, and Marriage in the Garden: Canterbury Colonial Women Gardeners, 1850–1914
Bainbridge, A. H. (2015). Birth, Death, and Marriage in the Garden: Canterbury Colonial Women Gardeners, 1850–1914 (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9605
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9605
This thesis presents a study of the role of gardens in the life stages of colonial women of Canterbury. Using the framework of the expected life-cycle of middle- and upper-class Victorian women (birth, marriage, death), this thesis analyses how women’s garden-making, and interactions with gardens, cast new light on various aspects of colonial gender discourse and gender relations. The study demonstrates that gardens of colonial women were sites of social cohesion in settler communities. Colonial women used the garden for family or communal events, such as wedding celebrations, and community games and sports that helped bind together rural society. Women were also capable of using the garden as a site of resistance to, or rejection of, the prevailing gender norms. The ambiguity of the garden space, both public and private, connected to the house but separate from the house, enabled women to use it as a site for pushing the boundaries of what was considered socially acceptable behaviour in colonial society Women gardeners also made considerable contributions to environmental transformation in New Zealand’s South Island. This thesis argues that this has been overlooked or minimalised in environmental historiography in New Zealand. It also argues that previous historical arguments that women gardeners were motivated primarily by imperial ideologies and the desire for social display, ignores the very real role played by environmental hazards and health issues in the creation of colonial gardens.
University of Waikato
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