The influence of social and material agents on garden visiting in England.

This source preferred by Dorothy Fox

Authors: Fox, D.

Start date: 30 March 2006

Visiting a garden that is open to the public is a popular leisure activity of many people in England and yet there is a dearth of research literature on the practice of visiting gardens. Two studies have identified why people visit, but by concentrating on motivation and hence human agency, they have disregarded the actions of social and material agents on the decision-making process. This paper reports the findings of a study into visiting pay-to-visit gardens in the South of England. A self-completion questionnaire was delivered to a cluster sample of residents in Southern England in 2002 to ascertain their preferences for visiting attractions in general and visiting gardens specifically. Interviews were then carried out with volunteers from the survey and with visitors to horticultural attractions to obtain a greater understanding of this phenomenon. Few visitors to gardens are there on their own and so either both or all of the individuals in a group were interviewed together. The results demonstrate the influence of both material and social agents. This paper reports on just one material agent – the weather, and one type of social agent – charitable organisations involved in garden visiting. In particular the influence of two major charities, the National Trust and the National Gardens Scheme are revealed.

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