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Amarillide
Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2020 12:51:39 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 2/13/2020
Posts: 40
Neurons: 350
Hi, dears!
I bumped into this phrase:

The garden is haunted by the search for plants

Of course, it sounds like a slightly figurative use of language. Do you think that, in this specific case, being haunted is used in the sense of persecution or in the sense of frequentation? Or maybe something else? How does it sound to a mother tongue? Would you please be able to explain to me this image, maybe to give me the closest synonym for haunted you would use in this phrase?
Thank you very much in advance to whoever wants to venture...
Ama
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2020 1:45:01 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/30/2016
Posts: 1,697
Neurons: 10,851
Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
Amarillide wrote:
Hi, dears!
I bumped into this phrase:

The garden is haunted by the search for plants

Of course, it sounds like a slightly figurative use of language. Do you think that, in this specific case, being haunted is used in the sense of persecution or in the sense of frequentation? Or maybe something else? How does it sound to a mother tongue? Would you please be able to explain to me this image, maybe to give me the closest synonym for haunted you would use in this phrase?
Thank you very much in advance to whoever wants to venture...
Ama


To give an answer that is more than just a guess we would need more of the context of the phrase I am afraid.

But my suggestion would be it’s related to the phrase “haunted by the ghosts of the past”.
In the past there was a fashion for sending “plant hunters” to exotic places around the world these would bring back new and exciting plants that would be planted in the gardens of the rich and powerful.
In Britain to this day there are gardens such as Kew that house such plant collections.

Some however have fallen into neglect and are no longer what they once were and in their faded glory might be described as “haunted by the search for plants”, but that’s just my suggestion.
One example is the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
https://www.heligan.com/

A British garden that was sadly neglected following the violence of WW1, that has now been recovered.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2020 10:32:56 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 33,722
Neurons: 216,320
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
I'm glad that Sarries thought of possible meaning, because it just sounded nonsensical to me.

The subject (actor) of "haunt" is a spirit - and now, by extension, a person or people or an idea.

The house was haunted by a ghost.
He haunted the bars, hoping to meet her again.
He was haunted by the memory of the first meeting.


"haunted by the search for plants" doesn't seem to fit any of the usual uses of the verb.
I could think with "haunted by plant-searchers" easily.

It basically means "visit often" or "frequent" - it is derived from "home" or "heim" (meaning "homewards".

Middle English < Old French hanter to frequent, probably < Old Norse heimta to lead home, derivative of heim homewards.

Even after reading Sarrriesfan's guess, it doesn't really make sense to say that "the search for plants" frequents or makes its home in the garden. Either the rest of the sentence explains how it is, or it's very badly-written.
Romany
Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 7:24:11 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
Posts: 16,779
Neurons: 53,440
Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Indeed. The garden could be haunted by the "ghosts" of those early eager botanists. Or the "spirit" - the feelings of excitement/novelty/dedication/ etc.- they possessed. It is deliberately vague which means that those who link 'spirit' to 'a dead person's soul'; and the pragmatists who use it to mean a sense of energy - both get the same sense of how the garden feels - it's atmosphere.
Amarillide
Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020 12:10:58 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 2/13/2020
Posts: 40
Neurons: 350
I am glad too that Sarriesfan found this possible connection. If not only because now I  really would love to visit this decadent Heligan Garden, it looks like a sublime place.
I think it could be a very interesting perspective, but, because of the "context", I think it may carry a different meaning. Sorry if I didn't write everything together earlier, here we are: 

You will get a better understanding of a society by looking at what it wastes. The garden is haunted by the search for plants – one important characteristic of agrarian society is a near absence of waste. In this economy, those who scavenge nature still earn a decent living. 

This is it, these are spare thoughts, in this very loose aphoristic format... it doesn't explain that much... that's why I put "context" in brackets!

Drag0nspeaker said:
"haunted by the search for plants" doesn't seem to fit any of the usual uses of the verb.

That's why I thought it could be a kind of metaphorical use, a kind of personification of the "search for plants"

I thought it could mean something like "wherever there is a garden it is very likely that there will be someone searching for plants".... haunt could have either the broad meaning of "impend over"(but I don't know if the two meanings could ever overlap, maybe yes since haunting means also to obsess) or the most common meaning of "being there", "infest" "frequent".

It is a bit puzzling, I know, but please, tell me if, according to English language usage, my shot could have a slight possibility of sense...

Thank you very much indeed for bearing with me!
Ama


Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, March 28, 2020 12:58:55 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 33,722
Neurons: 216,320
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Gosh! Yes, a 'very loose aphoristic format...'

As Romany says, it seems deliberately vague - it's a sentence which doesn't really connect with the other sentences.

It could mean whatever the reader fits into it.
The personification of the spirit of the search for plants - Romany's 'feelings of excitement/novelty/dedication/ etc'.
OR The archetype "person searching for plants".
OR - whatever else the reader reads into it.

A place is haunted by a ghost, a personal spirit, so it is going to be a personification of some sort.

I can't help "matching it up" with the other sentences.
society - garden.
waste - searching for plants - scavengers.

A society is defined by its waste, as a garden is defined by its flowers.
Scavengers can live well, so the society (defined by the quality of the waste) is successful and affluent.

Very philosophical!
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