A bundle of sticks in my garden

Sue Farran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The English law of property is often described as a “bundle of sticks” in which each “stick” represents a particular right. Gardens challenge these rights and wreak havoc on the “bundle of sticks.” This article looks at the twenty-first century manifestations of community engagement with ground and explores how “gardening” is undermining concepts of ownership, possession and management of land and how the fence between what is private and what is public is being encroached and challenged by community and individual initiatives to cultivate. The garden in this article is therefore a place of questioning and redefining traditional legal concepts, but it also reflects contemporary concerns which go beyond the confines of the garden and the boundaries of the law. At the same time however, the garden represents a continuum between past struggles and ideals and future hopes, and so the cultivators of today are located in a continuing evolution of law, land and people. By considering the various ways in which people are engaging with land outside of the usual private land/person context and their motives for doing so, this article places present gardening in its historic context and analyses the challenges that various forms of gardening pose for established legal principles. In particular this article asks if present gardening demands a re-examination of property law and a re-evaluation of what is understood as “property” if the “bundle of sticks” is unpacked.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-251
JournalPolemos: Journal of Law, Literature and Culture
Issue number2
Early online date2 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2014


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