University Of Tasmania

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Plant traits link people's plant preferences to the composition of their gardens

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 16:33 authored by David Kendal, Williams, KJH, Williams, NSG
Gardens are ubiquitous in western cities, comprising up to a third of the total urban area and often containing a majority of the vegetation present. Gardens are the cumulative result of many individual plant choices, yet we know relatively little about the role of preference in these choices. We investigated peoples’ preference for different garden plants and reasons for plant choices using a postal questionnaire (n = 224) containing 30 colour photos of garden plants and questions about gardening behaviour. Preferences were compared with the plants growing in the gardens of 48 randomly selected respondents. Objectively measured plant traits were used to relate preferences to the plants growing in people's gardens. Significant relationships were found between survey responses and both the traits and taxonomy of plants growing in respondent gardens. The results also show that people's preferences are very diverse, and that these preferences were related both to aesthetic traits such as flower size, leaf width and foliage colour, and non-visual traits such as nativeness and drought tolerance. Together these findings provide evidence that garden floras have responded to their social environment, and suggests that the very high levels of diversity observed in gardens can in part be attributed to the heterogeneity observed in this social environment.


Publication title

Landscape and Urban Planning








School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

Rights statement

Copyright 2011 Crown copyright

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity

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