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Carina Sjöholm.

Carina Sjöholm

Universitetslektor, docent

Carina Sjöholm.

Ambiguous vitality: Gardening between desired heritage and despised invasiveness


  • Carina Sjöholm
  • Katarina Saltzman
  • Tina Westerlund

Summary, in Swedish

Gardeners have always used plants of different origins, moving them around to new environments, working hard to make the plants survive and thrive under new conditions. In gardens, vitality is often regarded as an asset and a reason to cultivate certain plants. Many varieties that have spread over centuries are today regarded as ‘belonging’, as more or less ‘natural’, and even as heritage plants. However, while vitality and spreading can be seen as favourable, it can also turn into a problem, when plants spread too much, not least under changing conditions. Gardeners, and the circulation of garden plants, have been blamed for not taking adequate responsibility for the effects of unintentional spreading.

This paper is based on ongoing research on the intersection between gardens, markets and heritage in Sweden. Through interviews with gardeners and professionals, field observations and document studies we have found that boundaries between desired and despised are constantly transgressed; some garden plants are in fact regarded simultaneously as heritage and as invasive. We want to highlight how gardening and garden plants balance between heritageness and invasiveness. In the context of gardening it is obvious that everything is changing, and shifting ideals are continuously affecting the boundaries between garden and surrounding environment. This points to the need for knowledge about how to manage and co-exist with such plants. Considering the potentials and risks of gardening for a sustainable future, plant vitality is indeed an example of the difficulties implied in cultivating and at the same time protecting ‘nature’.


  • Institutionen för tjänstevetenskap






Konferensbidrag: abstract


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Other Humanities

Conference name

SIEF2021 15th congress

Conference date

2021-06-19 - 2021-09-24

Conference place

Helsinki, Finland