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‘Planting Memory: the challenge of remembering
Journal of Garden History
, 2014 (in Press)
In exploring the mnemonic role of gardens, this
paper will first focus on the value of gardens as both a palliative
for melancholy, as liminal enclaves, and as carefully constructed
surrogate memory systems. Their importance as places for reflection
and recovery is examined through the lens of post-war Flanders,
with a brief examination of the immense task required to recover
the land from the trauma of the First World War.
The paper then examines the manner in which pilgrims took their
personal narratives to the battle zones. With so little to see,
the bereaved had to reclaim lost names from the lost land; this
process is explored through the work of the architects who had to
design vast monuments to enumerate those who had simply vanished
Noting Fabian Ware’s transformational contribution to this
process, the paper examines how the sites of battle became named
and reclaimed, how shallow ditches and slight mounds were rendered
sites of reverence, and how garden-cemeteries became the epicentres
of ritual remembering. Two ‘mirror’ sites of national
memory are briefly examined – the ‘Anzac’ headland
in Turkey, and the Memorial parkland and gardens of Shrine Reserve
in central Melbourne, both hallowed places strewn with symbolic
trees, designed gardens and abundant rhetorical ‘topoi’.
They are also places where the seed and soil of distant battlefields
has been mingled with the national landscape, where the front has
literally been transplanted to another country.
The paper concludes by suggesting that the garden-memorial is an
essential component in the future of remembering, creating open
and inclusive spaces which rely on participation and careful nurturing
to ensure that memory stays alert, relevant, and passed on from
generation to generation.