Residential Gardens in Urban Honolulu, Hawaiʻi: Neighborhood, Ethnicity and Ornamental Plants

Ikagawa, Toshihiko
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 1994]
This study examines the relationship between people and plants in urban residential front yards on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi by comparing ornamental plant communities from three neighborhoods (study areas) with similar socioeconomic and cultural settings, and those of major ethnic groups (Japanese, Chinese and others -- mostly Caucasians) within these neighborhoods. A history of ornamental gardens tracing the Mediterranean-European and the Chinese-Japanese lineages is presented as background. Field sampling of the 150 randomly selected residential lots employed the sample stand method of vegetation ecology, and recorded the structure of the plant communities as presence/absence, height, cover, and function of each plant species in a yard. Statistical analyses (ANOVA and chi-square test) examined the relationships between vegetational characteristics and four socio-economic and cultural variables: (1) geographical location, (2) ethnic background, (3) the age of a house and (4) the size of a sample lot. Major findings include: (1) the structure of plant communities is quantitatively more similar than different both among neighborhoods and among ethnic groups; (2) the significant variations observed among neighborhoods are attributed to individual lot size, and to general landscape taste of residents of a neighborhood; (3) the similarity observed among ethnic groups suggests acculturation of cultural traditions, and the existence of a local (Hawaiian) style front yard utilizing popular tropical garden plants; (4) the front yards of some members of an ethnic group, especially the Japanese group, are distinguishable from the rest based on a few characteristics such as the presence of particular plant species (notably Japanese garden plants). This may be the residents' display of the symbols of group identity; (5) regarding the concept of transported landscape, not whole but parts of Japanese garden traditions, such as some plant species and a few ideas, have been transported to Hawai'i; and (6) the high species diversity implies individual residents' latitude of choice, and the uniform life form spectrum suggests the existence of the universal common image, protopaysage, among humans. Habitat theory suggests that this atavistic image hinkaku (dignity) leads us to portray the image in a pleasing form in a garden.
PhD University of Hawaii at Manoa 1994
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 189–198) and index.
ornamental plants, Hawaii, Honolulu, social aspects of gardening, gardens, ethnic neighborhoods, ecology, minority and ethnic groups, sociology, urban environment
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