Visits to Public Gardens: Their Meaning for Avid Gardeners

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  • 1 Department of Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design, University of Tennessee, P.O. Box 1071, Knoxville, TN 37901.
  • 2 Department of Educational Psychology, University of Georgia, Aderhold Hall, Athens, GA 30602-7143.

This study examined how avid gardeners experience a public garden. Phenomenological interviewing was used to collect data from six avid gardeners who frequently visited a public garden. Data about the gardeners' beliefs and actions regarding gardening history, gardening practices, and involvement with public gardens were gathered. From inductive analysis, a model of a gardener's world composed of four conceptual themes: 1) personal history, 2) social connections, 3) human well-being, and 4) learning experiences was delineated. The conceptual themes of a gardener's world are the personal learning constructs through which gardeners experience the plant world. Each of the four conceptual themes influenced how participants in this study experienced a public garden. Participants used a public garden to socially interact with others, enhance their human well-being, strengthen their gardening background, and extend their gardening knowledge and skill. Several subthemes emerged within the four conceptual themes of an avid gardener's world to inform us how gardening plays an integral role in gardeners' lives.

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