Sellable Stories. The Use of History in the Marketing of Heritage Plants and Gardens

Katarina Saltzman, Carina Sjöholm, Tina Westerlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


“Garden phlox ‘Alma Jansson’ comes from a smallholding in Roslagen. It has been on the farm at least since 1939 when Stina Jansson moved in. It was her mother-in-law, Alma Jansson, who took care of the plants in the garden. ‘Everything comes from Grandma. She had such beautiful flowers’, said Stina. We do not know where she received or bought this variety, but it was not newly planted in 1939.”

This story is told in marketing material for an old variety of garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), a perennial flower found and propagated within the Swedish programme for cultivated diversity, POM. Under their trademark Grönt kulturarv® (‘green heritage’) a number of heritage plants have been (re-)released on the market during the last five years – and there is clearly a demand. The story of Alma Jansson is now part of a product sold in nurseries all over Sweden.

This article is based on an ongoing research project studying the intersection between heritage, markets and gardens. The project’s aim is to examine how cultural heritage is produced and articulated within contemporary, formal as well as informal, markets for garden-related items and services. Here, we focus on the ways in which storytelling is used as an articulation of heritage in the context of gardening, for plants as well as entire gardens. We show how stories are used also as tools to enhance the value of gardens with a history to visitors; connecting plants, places and gardening practices to people, past and present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-144
JournalEthnologia Scandinavica
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sep

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Ethnology


  • heritage
  • plants and gardens
  • Storytelling
  • marketing
  • garden tourism


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