Eden Uprooted: Investigating Attitudes in the Garden at Pingle Farm

Author: Rebecca Milne

Milne, Rebecca, 2023 Eden Uprooted: Investigating Attitudes in the Garden at Pingle Farm, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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British colonial gardening practices in South Australia were heavily influenced by both traditional European methods and the attitudes of the colonists to the Australian landscape and flora. An analysis of colonial texts shows that colonists generally failed to acknowledge the presence of the Indigenous inhabitants and their expertise, and the home garden became a small-scale version of wider colonial land use practices. Native flora was appreciated and experimented with, but often only as a novelty, and always in combination with familiar and reliable European garden plants.

A historical archaeological investigation of the garden at Pingle Farm, including vegetation and surface survey, and high-density ground penetrating radar, reveals how attitudes can be read in the evidence left behind by the pioneer Jared family and subsequent owners of the property. The results of the archaeological investigation identified remnant and descendant plants from the nineteenth century garden and revealed subsurface features which indicated cultural activity related to gardening and agriculture, including structures and soil disturbance. Potential features from World War Two use of the site were also identified.

The combination of historic research, landscape investigation and geophysical survey has proved to be effective in revealing evidence of the former garden. When combined with a textual content analysis from an ecocritical perspective, this evidence allows a greater understanding of why gardening practices in South Australia developed in a particular manner, and the longer-term effects of this on the land. It provides a tangible record upon which to reflect as we create our ‘Australian’ gardens today.

Keywords: garden archaeology, ground penetrating radar, South Australia, Port Noarlunga, Seaford Meadows, Onkaparinga River, colonial farm, farm garden, nineteenth century farm, Australian literature, Australian colonial texts, Volunteer Defence Force, World War Two, Jared Family, John William Jared, ecocriticism, Noarlunga, Teakle Family, vegetation survey, medicinal plants, attitudes, content analysis, historical archaeology, archaeology, British colonial gardens, garden history

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2023
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Heather Burke