Trees I’ve loved

What explains our affection for trees? A recent ABC Radio National project details our complex relationships with trees — trees of childhood, trees of heartbreak, and trees of love. As journalist Gretchen Miller writes, the human relationship between trees and people goes right back to the forests of the first humans, and our ambivalent relationship with trees can be traced through to the here and now, via fairy tales, mythology, and science.


AUSCCER’s Professor Lesley Head was interviewed by Gretchen for this project. Lesley has researched people’s attitudes to their back gardens. She says that even tree lovers often prefer not to have trees too close to their homes.

‘Trees were one of the things about which there was quite significant conflict and quite significant variation in views—so we had people who loved and adored trees in their back garden and people who felt quite uneasy about them,’ Professor Head says.

‘They were also a source of conflict between neighbours in many situations… [T]rees are big, trees are often planted close to boundaries so they hang over the fence. They can lift up fences, they can lift up paths, they can drop branches, they can shade people’s sun. So they are quite active in those spaces.’

You can listen to Lesley in the “Trees I’ve Loved” story (click the link below) and you can listen to even more fascinating contributions on the Trees I’ve Loved project webpage.

Lesley and her colleagues have written extensively about backyards and trees:

Australian backyard gardens and the journey of migration

Nativeness, invasiveness and nation in Australian plants

Suburban life and the boundaries of nature: resilience and rupture in Australian backyard gardens

Edges of Connection: reconceptualising the human role in urban biogeography

Gardeners’ Talk: a linguistic study of relationships between environmental attitudes, beliefs and practices

Changing cultures of water in eastern Australian backyard gardens

Living with trees – Perspectives from the suburbs

Backyard: Nature and Culture in Suburban Australia

You can read Professor Lesley Head’s staff profile or this recent interview for more information. Her latest book is Household Sustainability and it’s available through Edward Elgar Publishing. You can follow @ProfLesleyHead on Twitter. Lesley has also written several posts for this blog, including ‘Loving your monsters – the Climate Council and #Pinktober‘, ‘Words and weeds in Sweden‘, and ‘The conversation we need to have about carbon‘.

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