Led up the garden path? Weeds, conservation rhetoric and environmental management

Dave Kendal, Libby Robin, Anna Wilson, Cameron Muir, Lilian M. Pearce, Sharon Willoughby, Ian D. Lunt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Garden plants have become a target in conservation science discourse, particularly the notion that they ‘jump the garden fence’ to become weeds. This paper synthesises findings of a suite of projects exploring the ‘culture of weeds’ through different disciplinary lenses. Together they agree that while home gardens sometimes contain plants known to be environmental weeds, gardens may not always be the vector for their spread into nearby bushland. Many plants attributed to gardens, in fact, originate in agriculture. The metaphor ‘jumping the garden fence’ obscures the complex pathways that underpin the spread of weeds. Weeding is an important part of both gardening and caring for bushland. Historically, we have been weeding the bush for a long time, and it is an important human activity. If it is industrialised, as it has been in agriculture, through broad-scale chemical and mechanical processes, it may be less valuable to both the bush and the people who care for it. A closer scrutiny of the military metaphors associated with enemy weeds may enable a different sort of weeding and different relations with the bush in Australia. It may even be that we need to garden the bush to get the wilderness we desire.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)228-241
    Number of pages14
    JournalAustralasian Journal of Environmental Management
    Issue number3
    Early online dateMar 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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