Gardens have adorned homes since the formation of the earliest cities. Today, humans have brought an aspect of nature into the urban world as a kind of silent protest against urbanity itself.
The home symbolizes structure and protection, while the garden brings back an element of wilderness and uncertainty. You can even ensure your garden along with the rest of your property with companies like brokerlink insurance.
Gardens are peaceful sanctuaries. That is why we keep producing them and why they’re so popular. Even open green spaces bring a sense of solace and relief from the concrete and mortar that surrounds us all the time.
1. Gardening Through the Ages
You may have heard the stories about the hanging gardens in Babylon. Whether or not they actually existed is debatable, but this illustrates how long gardens have been a feature of civilized life.
So important were various plants and trees in the ancient world that some kings even adorned their tombs with depictions and lists of the plants they possessed. Cedars, pomegranates, and many others were highly prized by kings.
The English word paradise comes from Ancient Persian for an enclosed park or garden. Stories and myths about humanity’s Edenic origins are always set in a kind of garden, too, with the fruits that are permitted growing alongside forbidden ones.
Monarchy often had sprawling gardens tended by hundreds of gardeners. Versailles is the example that springs to mind, although it’s by no means the only one of its kind. As you can see, gardens and gardening have a very long history.
2. Philosophy and Gardens
Part of the magic of gardens is that they’re liminal spaces. A garden displays the beauty of the wilderness all while framing the exteriors of our homes. It’s a gestural boundary we place around ourselves, hedging out the urban spaces.
Gardens also feature routinely in religious beliefs and practices, being standard parts of monastic practices from many faiths. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians all depict gardens in their various liturgies, as a regular symbol for fertility and life.
In some sense, gardening can be about our mastery over nature too. Versailles and other courtly gardens are testaments to this, with high geometrical structures and precise features. In these cases, gardens are given a kind of conceptual side.
These courtly forms of gardens became popularized at around the time of the Enlightenment in Europe, and sought to emulate the scientific and philosophical precision of the time, through new technologies such as gravity-fed fountains, and others.
Some forms of gardening are more productive than others, like vegetable gardening. All over the world, hobbyists engage in food production by creating small gardens. They acknowledge our dependence on the flora of the natural world.
There is something wonderfully satisfying about sitting down to a meal which was grown in your own veggie patch. It’s about knowing the entire life cycle of the food you’re eating, and the feeling of accomplishment which goes along with that.
3. Gardening Psychology
Gardeners are usually a peaceful and relaxed bunch, provided you don’t step on their flowers. Modern psychology has bolstered this belief, and there are statistics proving it as well.
Gardening has some notable, positive, psychological effects. In fact, some mental health practitioners actually prescribe gardening as a therapy for patients. As an alternative to medications, it seems like a highly beneficial way to go.
We all know the feeling of tranquility that comes over us when we’re in a beautiful garden. It’s unsurprising that psychology has recognized gardening’s benefits, and produced these more alternative ways of thinking about the human mind.
For those who have been through struggles with issues like anxiety or depression, it is easy to see how the calming, restorative effects of gardening could be beneficial. Even strolling through gardens, or reading in them, instills these effects.
This is why so many cities across the world feature various botanical gardens. One famous example is Kew Gardens in London. Many major cities have manicured parks and other green areas.
4. Gardens Without Plants
Japanese culture has a radical conception of gardening. Here, the practice has been pared down to such an extreme that what remains is closer perhaps to geometry and architecture.
The Zen garden is about form and space rather than botany. In it, the gardener is busied with smooth lines and fluid shapes, which are cautiously raked into precise order around very sparse features like rocks. Everything is extremely deliberate.
It’s a complete departure from the liminal space where wilderness and civilization meet and is instead only concerned with harmony and peace. It is what becomes of gardens when they are reduced to their fundamental elements alone.
Zen gardeners focus on process rather than the outcome. The gardener moves with the fluid shapes, raking along with the entire body taking part. The effect is a little like dancing to silence, moving soundlessly and to a spiritual rhythm known only to the dancer themselves.
At the core of the Zen garden is the concept of harmony. The Buddhist tradition seeks to attain peace through harmony, tranquility, and balance, believing that the inner world of the mind can be mirrored in the world surrounding us. The gardens express this belief well.
Gardens tend to reflect the gardeners who tend them. Some of them are sprawling and chaotic with flashes of color cascading in every direction. Others are more ordered, with everything in a designated spot.
Other gardens are purely conceptual spaces, belonging more to mathematics than to horticulture. Devoid of all the frills, the Zen garden is a masterpiece of minimalism and spatial awareness.
It’s easy to see gardening’s appeal. Being surrounded by something as beautiful and magically spiritual as a garden is simply a wonderful experience for all.