Pink Patches

By Certoma, Chiara | New Formations, Autumn 2012 | Go to article overview

Pink Patches


Certoma, Chiara, New Formations


George McKay, Radical Gardening. Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the garden, London, Frances Lincoln, 2011; 224pp, 12.99 [pounds sterling] paperback

If you have ever looked at gardening as a mere leisure and relaxation activity, and at gardens as places far from ordinary troubles and political struggles, Radical Gardening. Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the garden by George McKay is the right book to challenge those ideas. Just forget about the description of the aesthetic pleasantness of multicoloured flower beds and the moral virtues plant care adds to daily people's life; do not expect any history of the progressive erasure of wilderness from modern cities, or about the art of creating a greener urbanscape. Far from these common interpretations of gardening, McKay proposes an altogether different perspective by exploring the political relevance of gardens and gardening in cities. He tells us a captivating story about the subversive, innovative and creative character of gardening and the role of gardens in western history, with particular focus on Britain and the United States. Specifically, the author offers readers a description of the public politics of gardening as developed, managed and transformed by grassroots movements.

The author spells out three intertwined plots in the book; the first provides a story of how green space has been progressively appropriated by people (through claiming, planning and planting) so as to become part of the public imaginary; the second follows the evolution of gardening rhetoric in political propaganda and in the constitution of social mentality; the last plot tell us about the connection between gardens, plants, flowers, gardening, and political ideologies. A further plot, in my opinion, emerges from the narrative; namely the constant shifting between gardens (and lands, terrains, parks, allotments, and so on) as ad hoc spaces for political expression, and gardens as the object of political claims. These two statuses of gardens (i.e. means and objects) are often not clearly distinguishable (some gardens, such as community gardens, are at the same time, places for the manifestation of people's political will and objects of their political claims). Nevertheless, it is evident that throughout history, gardens constituted a materialisation of political and social ideologies (this is the case with organicism, fascism, anarchism and so on), and the loci where a number of political issues 'condensed' (such as genetic modification issues, food policy, capitalist systems, multiculturalism and so on).

McKay's book intentionally focuses on the last two centuries but leaves aside certain types of gardens that represent the institutional point of view (such as the imperial garden, the public park celebrating the social order and governmental values, the landscape plans fuelled by states or private investors). The book moves from the first uses of public gardens as locations for subversive events and critical engagement at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and leads us to discover the way in which gardens, and urban green spaces in general, have been appropriated by the people through gardening; and how gardening entered the contemporary dialogic of the urban future and the 'extreme space in the contestation of cityscape' (p194). Ironically, even if public green spaces have frequently been provided by local authorities as a means to prevent revolutions, from the Victorian age onward, they rapidly evolved into venues for working class demonstrations and nurseries for social movements (Hyde Park is an example of this). As a consequence, public urban green spaces evolve into a space available for political activism, and 'function as a special zone for the common articulation of social change, social experimentation, the critical rejection of some aspects of society, and even the confrontation with authority' (p12). In the same years, the Garden City movement emerged.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Pink Patches
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.