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Landscape Gardens - Theology, Mythology & Reality

  • Jun 11, 2018

Landscape Gardens - Theology, Mythology & Reality

The word 'garden' most likely refers to an enclosure or compound. The etymology can be traced back to the Middle English word gardin and the Anglo-French, jardin.  The Germanic origins of 'garden' are from the Old High German terms gard and gart, meaning an enclosure or compound. Hence, the familiar Australian term for an early childhood centre, 'Kindergarten', translates as a 'children's compound' or 'enclosure'.

Forest Gardening, a plant-based food system, is the world's oldest form of gardening. Forest gardens originated in prehistoric times in jungles along river banks and in the foothills of monsoon regions where humans improved their immediate environment by identifying and protecting useful tree and vine species while undesirable species were eliminated.

These days, a garden is a planned space, usually outdoors (but not always), for the display, cultivation and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. Gardens can be created purely for ornamental purposes, incorporating natural and man-made materials. Some gardens, however, are cultivated in separate areas to produce food crops, vegetables, herbs and fruit. Sometimes food-based gardens are intermixed with ornamental plants.

The Bible suggests that God may have been the first Landscape Gardener.

Garden of Eden

Theology

The Garden of Eden appears in the Old Testament Book of Genesis. It is referred to as a biblical earthly paradise inhabited by Adam and Eve, the first man and woman created by God, prior to their expulsion from Eden for disobeying the commandments of God.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:9

The Garden of Eden is considered to be mythological by many scholars; however, there have been suggestions that its actual location is at the head of the Persian Gulf, in southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq) where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers run into the sea or in the Armenian Highlands. Sumerian records indicate that an earthly paradise garden theme was also referred to in the mythology of Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Mythology

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They are described as a 'remarkable feat of engineering with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and vines, resembling a large green mountain constructed of mud bricks'. They are reputed to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon (near present-day Hillah) in Babil province, Iraq.
According to one legend, King Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled between 605 and 562 BC, built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, alongside a grand palace (known as The Marvel of Mankind). Legend suggests he built it for his wife, Queen Amytis from Media, because she missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland. However, the name 'Babylon', meaning 'Gate of the Gods', was used to name several Mesopotamian cities in ancient times.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Hanging Gardens of Babylon listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens are the only one for which the location has not been definitively established. There are no existing Babylonian texts which mention the gardens, and no authoritative archaeological evidence has been found in Babylon. So despite evidence of rich families and wealthy persons in the first civilizations building gardens for their aesthetic value, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon may have been a myth.

Landscape Gardens

The enclosure of outdoor space began around 10,000 BC. And although we do not have specific details of the first garden, historians suggest the first enclosure was a type of barrier for excluding animals and marauders. Since these early times Royal Gardens; public parks and squares; church gardens; courtyard gardens; rooftop gardens; and kitchen, cottage and household gardens have been created by humans throughout the world.

The term Landscape Garden was born out of the practice of using man-made features combined with natural features to create gardens. Man-made landscape garden structures include:

-    Water features: irrigation systems, fountains, waterfalls, ponds, lakes and creeks

-    Constructions: trellises, pavilions, rotundas, pergolas, retaining walls, statues, steps and terraces, paths, walls and fences.

Landscape Garden Maintenance practices include:

-    Establishment of garden beds, digging, planting, weed-control, mulching, fertilizing, watering, pruning, lopping, mowing, hedging, harvesting, installation of turf (real and synthetic) and installation of irrigation and sprinkling systems.

Gold Coast Landscape Gardeners

Focal Point Landscape Maintenance services the Gold Coast and Tweed areas of Queensland and far-northern NSW. They have more than 31 years experience in landscape construction - garden maintenance - weed and pest control - pruning and hedging - lawn mowing - turf installations and maintenance - watering systems and irrigation installations.

Landscape Gardeners Gold Coast

On the Gold Coast, Tweed Coast and surrounding areas, Focal Point Landscape Maintenance highly recommends the planting of native species that are indigenous to South-East Queensland, either coastal species or inland rainforest and hinterland species, depending on the site or location of the garden.

In their 'Coastal Gardening Guide', Focal Point suggests the following steps for successful coastal gardening:

  • Set up for salt
  • Create windbreaks
  • Build tree guards
  • Conserve moisture
  • Fertilise

Coastal Gardening Guide


The Focal Point Landscape Maintenance team offer domestic and commercial gardening services, with 'no job too big or small'. The team also provides online advice on '5 Easy Weeding Methods for the Perfect Garden'.

 

Easy Weeding for the Perfect Garden

The Gold Coast Landscape Garden

Landscape Gardeners have a long and rich history, from their taming of jungles in pre-history to the exotic and ornamental gardens of palaces and public spaces during Ancient times and full circle to the current interest in 'wild and native gardens'.

In Australia, the fascination with planting 'wild and native gardens' has increased in recent times. This growing of local and native species is more reflective of the original vegetation of an area, prior to European settlement.

This is especially true in the Gold Coast - Tweed region of Australia. The Focal Point Landscape Maintenance team has contributed to the practice of 'growing native' landscape gardens with their online 'Gold Coast Seasonal Planting Guide' for local gardeners.

Seasonal Gardening Guide Gold Coast

Also a gardening app, GroNATIVE, has recently been developed by Natura Pacific in conjunction with Professor Catherine Pickering at Griffith University, Gold Coast. This free app, which is available through the Gold Coast City Council, assists and encourages local gardeners to GroNATIVE for the following reasons:

  • once established, only minimal garden maintenance is required
  • native gardens require less water
  • they attract native birds, butterflies and frogs to your garden
  • native gardens provide a food source and habitat for local fauna
  • a variety of garden styles can still be created such as formal, informal and native edible gardens
  • insecticides and fungicides are not needed as native plants are adapted to the local conditions
  • land containing native gardens or bushland is aesthetically attractive which can increase its real estate value
  • native gardens can assist in connecting existing bushland pockets, creating a wildlife corridor.

Plant Native Species

Reality

Humans have travelled a long way from the theological Garden of Eden, the pre-historic Forest Gardens and the mythological Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The reality is that we may have travelled too far from our Edens, Forests and Babylons. Perhaps for the health of our planet and our own enjoyment, we need to head back in those directions - with the assistance of the contemporary Landscape Gardener.

Researched, compiled and composed by Dr Steve Gration, June 2018

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