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History of Gardening
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In his essay "Of Gardens" Francis Bacon wrote , " God Almighty first planted a garden, and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures." The Book of Genesis , to which Bacon is referring, tells how a garden was the earliest home of man: "And the Lord God planted a garden Eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed."

However, it is in Egypt that the first gardens we really know about were made. The Egyptians are supposed to have been the first people to develop the art of cultivating the soil. In their sacred groves they kept the natural beauties of winding streams but they also had fountains. These kept the atmosphere cool and pleasant and made it possible to grow many kinds of plants.

King Solomon`s gardenIn Palestine in about 950B.C., King Solomon`s garden, which was square and surrounded by high walls, was famed for it`s beauty.

Among the Seven Wonders of the World were the hanging gardens of Babylon. These were built by Nebuchadnezzar in about 600B.C. and were square, with sides about 120metres in length. A series of terraces was formed one above the other, each narrower at the back than the front so that the whole formed the shape of a pyramid. Vast stone beams and stone pillars were used as supports, and the floors of the terraces were made waterproof with reeds and bitumen, or pitch to prevent moisture from oozing downwards. Soil was spread on the terraces and trees and flowers were planted in it.

The ancient Parisians paid much attention to the beauty of gardens. They planned them with many avenues and thought it especially beautiful to have a long chain of pools in which fountains played. The Greeks are supposed to have occupied the gardens of the Persians but although those of Athens are said to have been very beautiful, few of the other Greek cities had public gardens. At that time wealthy people chose to live outside the cities in houses standing in their own gardens. In Homer`s Odyssey there is a description of the wonderful gardens Alcinous, King of Phaeacians who gave shelter to Odysseus on his way home from Troy.

History of GardeningThe Romans planned their gardens even more carefully, sometimes leveling hills, making artificial ones, building terraces and making lakes. The Romans were the first people who built houses with small gardens usually enclosed by trellis- work and decorated with climbing plants. Within the garden were stone ornaments , vases and urns and window boxes and plants in tubs were normal decoration. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was left to the monks to continue the art of gardening in their monasteries and examples of their skills are still to be found in the Vatican Gardens of the Pope. Herbs used in medicine were of especial interest to monks who grew them in herb gardens. Gradually an Italian style garden was developed with long walks bordered by small trees, the branches of which intertwined overhead. The flower beds were laid out in patterns. Among the great houses of England where part of the gardens are laid out as an Italian garden are Wilton House in Salisbury, Cliveden near Maidenhead which also has little temples, Osborne in the Isle of Wight, where there are companiles (Italian bell towers), and Harewood House in Yorkshire.

The Dutch of the Netherlands and the Flemings of Belgium also liked rather formal gardens, laid out in definite patterns. As there were many canals in their countries long stretches of water were often part of the design. These canals, with their glassy slopes and green terraces, are still to be found in the Netherlands and also at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. All the Dutch ships leaving for foreign ports were in the past told to bring back seeds and bulbs of interesting plants themselves. In this way the gardens of the Netherlands were enriched by many kinds of flowers, fruit and vegetables, and these were exported to other countries.

French gardening has long been famous, particularly the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. These were designed by Andre Le Notre, a famous French landscape architect, and are a masterpiece of layout and design. Trees, shrubs and other plants are all fitted into a pattern, and magnificent fountains and cascades, very often lit up made such use of water as had never been thought of before.Le Notre designs were copied in England at Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire and Birmingham Park in Yorkshire.

The Japanese in particular have made an art of gardening, with waterfalls and streams, lakes with islands and bridges and hills, rocks and trees , all carefully arranged. There are special Japanese gardens designed for drinking tea in, and also tiny gardens made in bowls with minute trees which speak of the art of bonsai.

In India, the gardens of the great tomb called the Taj Mahal are built in terraces. Outside Candy in Ceylon there are the Peradeniya gardens, famous for their beauty.

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