Robert Hart's forest garden in Shropshire, England.

Forest gardening, a plant­based food pro­system, is the world's oldest form of gardening.Forest

gardens originated in prehistoric times along jungle­clad river banks and in the wet foothills of

monsoon regions. In the gradual process of families improving their immediate environment, useful

tree and vine species were identified, protected and improved whilst undesirable species were

eliminated. Eventually foreign species were also selected and incorporated into the gardens.

The enclosure of outdoor space began in 10,000 BC. Though no one knows the specific details of the

first garden, historians imagine the first enclosure was a type of barrier for the purpose of keeping out

animals and marauders. Garden­making and design was a key precursor to landscape architecture,

and it began in West Asia, eventually spreading westward into Greece, Spain, Germany, France,

Britain, etc. Modern words of “garden” and “yard” are descendants of the Old English term “geard,”

which means fence or enclosure.

Vitruvius, a Roman author and engineer, wrote the oldest surviving design manual in 27 BC. De

architecture libri decem (The Ten Books on Architecture) addressed design theory, landscape

architecture, engineering, water supply and public projects, such as parks and squares. Vitruvius

asserted that firmitas (firmness, durability, strength), utilitas (commodity, convenience, utility) and

venustas (delight, loveliness, beauty) were the main design objectives, and some consider these

elements centrally important to quality landscape design.

After the emergence of the first civilizations, wealthy individuals began to create gardens for purely

aesthetic purposes. Egyptian tomb paintings of the 16th century BC are some of the earliest physical

evidence of ornamental horticulture and landscape design; they depict lotus ponds surrounded by

symmetrical rows of acacias and palms. Another ancient gardening tradition is of Persia: Darius the

Great was said to have had a "paradise garden" and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were renowned

as a Wonder of the World. Persian gardens were also organized symmetrically, along a center line

known as an axis.

Persian influences extended to post­Alexander's Greece: around 350 BC there were gardens at the

Academy of Athens, and Theophrastus, who wrote on botany, was supposed to have inherited a

garden from Aristotle. Epicurus also had a garden where he walked and taught, and bequeathed it to

Hermarchus of Mytilene. Alciphron also mentions private gardens.

The most influential ancient gardens in the western world were the Ptolemy's gardens at Alexandria

and the gardening tradition brought to Rome by Lucullus. Wall paintings in Pompeii attest to elaborate

development later. The wealthiest Romans built extensive villa gardens with water features, topiary

and cultivated roses and shaded arcades. Archeological evidence survives at sites such as Hadrian's


Byzantium and Moorish Spain kept garden traditions alive after the 4th century and the fall of Rome.

By this time, a separate gardening tradition had arisen in China, which was transmitted to Japan,

where it developed into aristocratic miniature landscapes centered on ponds and separately into the

severe Zen gardens of temples.

In Europe, gardening revived in Languedoc and the Île­de­France in the 13th century. The rediscovery

of descriptions of antique Roman villas and gardens led to the creation of a new form of garden, the

Italian Renaissance garden in the late 15th and early 16th century. The first public parks were built by

the Spanish Crown in the 16th century, in Europe and the Americas. The formal Garden à la française,

exemplified by the Gardens of Versailles, became the dominant style of garden in Europe until the

middle of the 18th century when it was replaced by the English landscape garden and the French

landscape garden. The 19th century saw a welter of historical revivals and Romantic cottage­inspired

gardening. In England, William Robinson and Gertrude Jekyll were strong proponents of the wild

garden and the perennial garden respectively. Andrew Jackson Downing and Frederick Law Olmsted

adapted European styles for North America, especially influencing public parks, campuses and

suburban landscapes. Olmsted's influence extended well into the 20th century.

The 20th century saw the influence of modernism in the garden: from the articulate clarity of Thomas

Church to the bold colors and forms of Brazilian Roberto Burle Marx.

A strong environmental consciousness and Sustainable design practices, such as green roofs and

rainwater harvesting, are driving new considerations in gardening today.

The historical development of garden styles

Mesopotamian Gardens

Map showing the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers

Mesopotamia ­ the "land between the Rivers" Tigris and Euphrates ­ comprises a hilly and

mountainous northern area and a flat, alluvial south. Its peoples (Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians,

and Babylonians) were urban and literate from about 3,000BC. Evidence for their gardens comes from

written texts, pictorial sculpture and archaeology. In western tradition Mesopotamia was the location of

the Garden of Eden and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Temple gardens developed from the

representation of a sacred grove; several distinct styles of royal garden are also known.

The courtyard garden was enclosed by the walls of a palace, or on a larger scale was a cultivated

place inside the city walls. At Mari on the Middle Euphrates (c 1,800BC) one of the huge palace

courtyards was called the Court of the Palms in contemporary written records. It is crossed by raised

walkways of baked brick; the king and his entourage would dine there. At Ugarit (c1,400BC) there was

a stone water basin, not located centrally as in later Persian gardens, for the central feature was

probably a tree (date palm or tamarisk). The 7th century BC Assyrian king Assurbanipal is shown on a

sculpture feasting with his queen, reclining on a couch beneath an arbour of vines, attended by

musicians. Trophies of conquest are on display, including the dismembered head of the king of Elam

hanging from a fragrant pine branch! A Babylonian text from the same period is divided into sections

as if showing beds of soil with the names of medicinal, vegetable and herbal plants written into each

square, perhaps representing a parterre design.

On a larger scale royal hunting parks were established to hold the exotic animals and plants which

the king had acquired on his foreign campaigns. King Tiglath­Pileser I (c 1,000BC) lists horses, oxen,

asses, deer of two types, gazelle and ibex, boasting "I numbered them like flocks of sheep."

From around 1,000 BC the Assyrian kings developed a style of city garden incorporating a naturalistic

layout, running water supplied from river headwaters, and exotic plants from their foreign campaigns.

Assurnasirpal II (883­859BC) lists pines of different kinds, cypresses and junipers of different kinds,

almonds, dates, ebony, rosewood, olive, oak, tamarisk, walnut, terebinth and ash, fir pomegranate,

pear, quince, fig and grapevines: "The canal water gushes from above into the gardens; fragrance

pervades the walkways; streams of water as numerous as the stars of heaven flow in the pleasure

garden.... Like a squirrel I pick fruit in the garden of delights." The city garden reached its zenith with

the palace design of Sennacherib (704­681BC) whose water system stretched for 50 km into the hills,

whose garden was higher and more ornate than any others, and who boasted of the complex

technologies he deployed, calling his palace and garden "a Wonder for all Peoples".

The biblical Book of Genesis mentions the Tigris and Euphrates as two of the four rivers bounding the

Garden of Eden. No specific place has been identified although there are many theories.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are listed by classical Greek writers as one of the Seven Wonders of

the World ­ places to see before you die. The excavated ruins of Babylon do not reveal any suitable

evidence, which has led some scholars to suggest that they may have been purely legendary.

Alternatively the story may have originated from Sennacherib's garden in Nineveh.

Persian gardens

The large charbagh (a form of Persian garden divided into four parts) provides the foreground for the

classic view of the Taj Mahal, UNESCO World Heritage Site

All Persian gardens, from the ancient to the high classical were developed in opposition to the harsh

and arid landscape of the Iranian Plateau. Unlike historical European gardens, which seemed carved

or re­ordered from within their existing landscape, Persian gardens appeared as impossibilities. Their

ethereal and delicate qualities emphasized their intrinsic contrast to the hostile environment. Trees and

trellises largely feature as biotic shade; pavilions and walls are also structurally prominent in blocking

the sun.

The heat also makes water important, both in the design and maintenance of the garden. Irrigation

may be required, and may be provided via a form of underground tunnel called a qanat, that transports

water from a local aquifer. Well­like structures then connect to the qanat, enabling the drawing of

water. Alternatively, an animal­driven Persian well would draw water to the surface. Such wheel

systems also moved water around surface water systems, such as those in the chahar bāgh style.

Trees were often planted in a ditch called a juy, which prevented water evaporation and allowed the

water quick access to the tree roots.

The Persian style often attempts to integrate indoors with outdoors through the connection of a

surrounding garden with an inner courtyard. Designers often place architectural elements such as

vaulted arches between the outer and interior areas to open up the divide between them.

Egyptian gardens

Rectangular fishpond with ducks and lotus planted round with date palms and fruit trees, in a fresco

from the Tomb of Nebamun, Thebes, 18th Dynasty

Gardens were much cherished in the Egyptian times and were kept both for secular purposes and

attached to temple compounds. Gardens in private homes and villas before the New Kingdom were

mostly used for growing vegetables and located close to a canal or the river. However, in the New

Kingdom they were often surrounded by walls and their purpose incorporated pleasure and beauty

besides utility. Garden produce made out an important part of foodstuff but flowers were also

cultivated for use in garlands to wear at festive occasions and for medicinal purposes. While the poor

kept a patch for growing vegetables, the rich people could afford gardens lined with sheltering trees

and decorative pools with fish and waterfowl. There could be wooden structures forming pergolas to

support vines of grapes from which raisins and wine were produced. There could even be elaborate

stone kiosks for ornamental reasons, with decorative statues.

A funerary model of a garden, dating to the Eleventh dynasty of Egypt, c. 2009–1998 BC. Made of

painted and gessoed wood, originally from Thebes.

Temple gardens had plots for cultivating special vegetables, plants or herbs considered sacred to a

certain deity and which were required in rituals and offerings like lettuce to Min. Sacred groves and

ornamental trees were planted in front of or near both cult temples and mortuary temples. As temples

were representations of heaven and built as the actual home of the god, gardens were laid out

according to the same principle. Avenues leading up to the entrance could be lined with trees,

courtyards could hold small gardens and between temple buildings gardens with trees, vineyards,

flowers and ponds were maintained.

The ancient Egyptian garden would have looked different from a modern garden. It would have

seemed more like a collection of herbs or a patch of wild flowers, lacking the specially bred flowers of

today. Flowers like the iris, chrysanthemum, lily and delphinium (blue), were certainly known to the

ancients but do not feature much in garden scenes. Formal boquets seem to have been composed of

mandrake, poppy, cornflower and or lotus and papyrus.

Due to the arid climate of Egypt, tending gardens meant constant attention and depended on irrigation.

Skilled gardeners were employed by temples and households of the wealthy. Duties included planting,

weeding, watering by means of a shaduf, pruning of fruit trees, digging the ground, harvesting the fruit


Hellenistic and Roman gardens

Hellenistic gardens

It is curious that although the Egyptians and Romans both gardened with vigor, the Greeks did not

own private gardens. They did put gardens around temples and they adorned walkways and roads

with statues, but the ornate and pleasure gardens that demonstrated wealth in the other communities

is seemingly absent.

Reconstruction of the Roman garden of the House of the Vettii in Pompeii

Roman gardens

Roman gardens were a place of peace and tranquillity, a refuge from urban life. Ornamental

horticulture became highly developed during the development of Roman civilisation. The

administrators of the Roman Empire (c.100 BC ­ 500 AD) actively exchanged information on

agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, hydraulics, and botany. Seeds and plants were widely

shared. The Gardens of Lucullus (Horti Lucullani) on the Pincian Hill on the edge of Rome introduced

the Persian garden to Europe, about 60 BC.

Chinese and Japanese gardens

Rock sculpture from the 'Lingering Garden' of Suzhou, China

Both Chinese and Japanese garden design traditionally is intended to evoke the natural landscape of

mountains and rivers. However, the intended viewpoint of the gardens differs: Chinese gardens were

intended to be viewed from within the garden and are intended as a setting for everyday life. Japanese

gardens, with a few exceptions, were intended to be viewed from within the house, somewhat like a

diorama. Additionally, Chinese gardens more often included a water feature, while Japanese gardens,

set in a wetter climate, would often get by with the suggestion of water. (Such as sand or pebbles

raked into a wave pattern.) Traditional Chinese gardens are also more likely to treat the plants in a

naturalistic way, while traditional Japanese gardens might feature plants sheared into mountain

shapes. This contrasts with the handling of stone elements: in a Japanese garden, stones are placed

in groupings as part of the landscape, but in a Chinese garden, a particularly choice stone might even

be placed on a pedestal in a prominent location so that it might be more easily appreciated.

Chinese scholar gardens

The style of Chinese garden varies among economic groups and differs by dynasties. Rocks, water,

bridges and pavilions are among the most common features of scholar gardens for the wealthy

classes, while courtyards, wells, and terra cotta fish tanks are common among general population.

Other features such as moon gates and leaky windows (openwork screens that pierce surrounding

walls) are seen in both groups.

The development of landscape design in China was historically driven by philosophies of both

Confucianism and Taoism. Geometric symmetry and reinforcement of class boundaries were typical

characteristics of landscape design in Asian cities, and both characteristics reflect Confucian ideals.

While the British used nature outside the home to provide privacy, Chinese homes were compounds

made of a number of buildings which all faced one or more courtyards or common areas. Rather than

around the home, the Chinese valued natural spaces inside the compound, which is where the family

socialized. Furthermore, Courtyards in the Chinese home reflected Taoist philosophies, where families

would try to create abstractions of nature rather than recreations of it. For example, a Taoist garden

would avoid straight lines and use stone and water instead of trees, whereas Asian cities followed

Confucian, geometric designs and North American parks typically feature trees and lawns.

There are two ways of looking at the signature design characteristics of the Chinese garden: first, the

concept of Yin and Yang and second, the myths of longevity that arose during the Qin Dynasty.

The philosophy of Yin and Yang portrays the idea of balance and harmony. The Chinese garden

expresses the relationship to nature and the idea of balance through the art of mimicking natural

setting, thus the existence of mountains, rocks, water, and wind elements. Yin and Yang juxtapose

complementary opposites: as hard as rock can be, the softness of water can dissolve it. Tai Hu rocks,

limestone eroded by the water of Lake Tai, are the quintessential example. Water, air and light run

through the rock as it sit still on display. The leaky windows of the Chinese garden wall portray both

steadiness and movement. The windows create a solid painting on walls, however that steadiness

changes once the wind blows or the eyes move.

Chinese garden's structure is based upon the culture's creation myth, rooted in rocks and water. To

have longevity is to live among mountains and water; it is to live with nature, to live like an immortal

being (Xian). The garden evokes a healthy lifestyle that makes one immortal, free from the problems of

civilization. Thus, Chinese landscape is known as Shan (mountain) and Shui (water). (Add Roger's


Symbolism is a key element of Chinese garden design. To the earthy tones of the Chinese garden, a

touch of red or gold is often added to bring forth the Yin/Yang contrast. The colors red and gold also

represent luck and wealth. Bats, dragons and other mystic creatures carved on wooden doors are also

commonly found in Chinese gardens; these are signs of luck and protection.

Circles portray togetherness, especially for family members, and are depicted in moon gates and

round tables placed within square backgrounds. The moon gate and other whimsical doorways also

act to frame views and to force the viewer to pause for a transition into a new space.

Paths in Chinese gardens are often uneven and sometimes consciously zigzag. These paths are like

the passages of a human life. There is always something new or different when seen from a different

angle, while the future is unknown and unpredictable.

European gardens

Gardens of Byzantium

The Byzantine empire span a period of more than 1000 years (330­1453 AD) and a geographic area

from modern day Spain and Britain to the Middle East and north Africa. Probably due to this temporal

and geographic spread and its turbulent history, there is no single dominant garden style that can be

labeled "Byzantine style". Archaeological evidence of public, imperial, and private gardens is scant at

best and researchers over the years have relied on literary sources to derive clues about the main

features of Byzantine gardens. Romance novels such as Hysmine and Hysminias (12th century)

included detailed descriptions of gardens and their popularity attests to the Byzantines’ enthusiasm for

pleasure gardens (locus amoenus). More formal gardening texts such as the Geoponika (10th century)

were in fact encyclopedias of accumulated agricultural practices (grafting, watering) and pagan lore

(astrology, plant sympathy/antipathy relationships) going back to Hesiod's time. Their repeated

publications and translations to other languages well into the 16th century is evidence to the value

attributed to the horticultural knowledge of antiquity. These literary sources worked as handbooks

promoting the concepts of walled gardens with plants arranged by type. Such ideals found expression

in the suburban parks (Philopation, Aretai) and palatial gardens (Mesokepion, Mangana) of


The Byzantine garden tradition was influenced by the strong undercurrents of history that the empire

itself was exposed to. The first and foremost influence was the adoption of Christianity as the empire's

official religion by its founder Constantine I. The new religion signaled a departure from the ornamental

pagan sculptures of the Greco­Roman garden style. The second influence was the increasing contact

with the Islamic nations of the Middle East especially after the 9th century. Lavish furnishings in the

emperor's palace and the adoption of automata in the palatial gardens are evidence of this influence.

The third factor was a fundamental shift in the design of the Byzantine cities after the 7th century when

they became smaller in size and population as well as more ruralized. The class of wealthy aristocrats

who could finance and maintain elaborate gardens probably shrank as well. The final factor was a

shifting view toward a more "enclosed" garden space (hortus conclusus); a trend dominant in Europe

at that time. The open views and vistas so much favored by the garden builders of the Roman villas

were replaced by garden walls and scenic views painted on the inside of these walls. The concept of

the heavenly paradise was an enclosed garden gained popularity during that time and especially after

the iconoclastic period (7th century) with the emphasis it placed on divine punishment and repentance.

An area of horticulture that flourished throughout the long history of Byzantium was that practiced by

monasteries. Although archaeological evidence has provided limited evidence of monastic horticulture,

a great deal can be learned by studying the foundation documents (τυπικόν, typikon) of the numerous

Christian monasteries as well as the biographies of saints describing their gardening activities. From

these sources we learn that monasteries maintained gardens outside their walls and watered them

with complex irrigation systems fed by springs or rainwater. These gardens contained vineyards,

broadleaf vegetables, and fruit trees for the sustenance of monks and pilgrims alike. The role of the

gardener was frequently assumed by monks as an act of humility. Monastic horticultural practices

established at that time are still in use in Christian monasteries throughout Greece and the Middle



Monasteries carried on a tradition of garden design and intense horticultural techniques during the

medieval period in Europe. Rather than any one particular horticultural technique employed, it is the

variety of different purposes the monasteries had for their gardens that serves as testament to their

sophistication. As for gardening practices, records are limited, and there are no extant monastic

gardens that are entirely true to original form. There are, however, records and plans that indicate the

types of garden a monastery might have had, such as those for St. Gall in Switzerland.

Generally, monastic garden types consisted of kitchen gardens, infirmary gardens, cemetery orchards,

cloister garths and vineyards. Individual monasteries might also have had a "green court", a plot of

grass and trees where horses could graze, as well as a cellarer's garden or private gardens for

obedientiaries, monks who held specific posts within the monastery.

From a utilitarian standpoint, vegetable and herb gardens helped provide both alimentary and

medicinal crops, which could be used to feed or treat the monks and, in some cases, the outside

community. As detailed in the plans for St. Gall, these gardens were laid out in rectangular plots, with

narrow paths between them to facilitate collection of yields. Often these beds were surrounded with

wattle fencing to prevent animals from entry. In the kitchen gardens, fennel, cabbage, onion, garlic,

leeks, radishes, and parsnips might be grown, as well as peas, lentils and beans if space allowed for

them. The infirmary gardens could contain Rosa gallica ("The Apothecary Rose"), savory, costmary,

fenugreek, rosemary, peppermint, rue, iris, sage, bergamot, mint, lovage, fennel and cumin, amongst

other herbs. From a utilitarian standpoint, vegetable and herb gardens helped provide both alimentary

and medicinal crops, which could be used to feed or treat the monks and, in some cases, the outside


The herb and vegetable gardens served a purpose beyond that of production, and that was that their

installation and maintenance allowed the monks to fulfill the manual labor component of the religious

way of life prescribed by Rule of St. Benedict.

Orchards also served as sites for food production and as arenas for manual labor, and cemetery

orchards, such as that detailed in the plan for St. Gall, showed yet more versatility. The cemetery

orchard not only produced fruit, but manifested as a natural symbol of the garden of Paradise. This bi- fold concept of the garden as a space that met both physical and spiritual needs was carried over to

the cloister garth.

The cloister garth, a claustrum consisting of the viridarium, a rectangular plot of grass surrounded by

peristyle arcades, was barred to the laity, and served primarily as a place of retreat, a locus of the ‘vita

contempliva’.[10] The viridarium was often bisected or quartered by paths, and often featured a roofed

fountain at the center or side of the garth that served as a primary source for wash water and for

irrigation, meeting yet more physical needs. Some cloister gardens contained small fish ponds as well,

another source of food for the community. The arcades were used for teaching, sitting and meditating,

or for exercise in inclement weather.

There is much conjecture as to ways in which the garth served as a spiritual aid. Umberto Eco

describes the green swath as a sort of balm on which a monk might rest weary eyes, so as to return to

reading with renewed vigor. Some scholars suggest that, though sparsely planted, plant materials

found in the cloister garth might have inspired various religious visions.This tendency to imbue the

garden with symbolic values was not inherent to the religious orders alone, but was a feature of

medieval culture in general. The square closter garth was meant to represent the four points of the

compass, and so the universe as a whole. As Turner puts it,

Augustine inspired medieval garden makers to abjure earthliness and look upward for divine

inspiration. A perfect square with a round pool and a pentagonal fountain became a microcosm,

illuminating the mathematical order and divine grace of the macrocosm (the universe).

Walking around the cloister while meditating was a way of devoting oneself to the "path of life"; indeed,

each of the monastic gardens was imbued with symbolic as well as palpable value, testifying to the

ingenuity of its creators.

In the later Middle Ages, texts, art and literary works provide a picture of developments in garden

design. During the late 12th through 15th centuries, European cities were walled for internal defense

and to control trade. Though space within these walls was limited, surviving documents show that

there were animals, fruit trees and kitchen gardens inside the city limits.

Pietro Crescenzi, a Bolognese lawyer, wrote twelve volumes on the practical aspects of farming in the

13th century and they offer a description of medieval gardening practices. From his text we know that

gardens were surrounded with stonewalls, thick hedging or fencing and incorporated trellises and

arbors. They borrowed their form from the square or rectangular shape of the cloister and included

square planting beds.

Grass was also first noted in the medieval garden. In the De Vegetabilibus of Albertus Magnus written

around 1260, instructions are given for planting grass plots. Raised banks covered in turf called "Turf

Seats" were constructed to provide seating in the garden. Fruit trees were prevalent and often grafted

to produce new varieties of fruit. Gardens included a raised mound or mount to serve as a stage for

viewing and planting beds were customarily elevated on raised platforms.

Two works from the late Middle Ages discuss plant cultivation. In the English poem "The Feate of

Gardinage" by Jon Gardener and the general household advice given in Le Ménagier de Paris of

1393, a variety of herbs, flowers, fruit trees and bushes were listed with instructions on their cultivation.

The Menagier provides advice by season on sowing, planting and grafting. The most sophisticated

gardening during the Middle Ages was done at the monasteries. Monks developed horticultural

techniques, and cultivated herbs, fruits and vegetables. Using the medicinal herbs they grew, monks

treated those suffering inside the monastery and in surrounding communities.

During the Middle Ages, gardens were thought to unite the earthly with the divine. The enclosed

garden as an allegory for paradise or a "lost Eden" was termed the Hortus Conclusus. Freighted with

religious and spiritual significance, enclosed gardens were often depicted in the visual arts, picturing

the Virgin Mary, a fountain, a unicorn and roses inside an enclosed area.

Though Medieval gardens lacked many of the features of the Renaissance gardens that followed

them, some of the characteristics of these gardens continue to be incorporated today.

The Renaissance

Italian Renaissance garden and Gardens of the French Renaissance

The Italian Renaissance inspired a revolution in private gardening. Renaissance private gardens were

full of scenes from ancient mythology and other learned allusions. Water during this time was

especially symbolic: it was associated with fertility and the abundance of nature.

The first public gardens were built by the Spanish Crown in the 16th century, in Europe and the


Terraced Italian Renaissance gardens

The Medici Villa Petraia, near Florence, laid out by Niccolò Tribolo, epitomizes the Italian garden of the

early Renaissance, before the grander architectural schemes of the 16th century

French Baroque

Portrait of André Le Nôtre (12 March 1613­15 September 1700) by Carlo Maratta

Main article: Garden à la française

The Garden à la française, or Baroque French gardens, in the tradition of André Le Nôtre.

The French Classical garden style, or Garden à la française, climaxed during the reign of Louis XIV of

France (1638–1715) and his head gardener of Gardens of Versailles, André Le Nôtre (1613–1700).

The inspiration for these gardens initially came from the Italian Renaissance garden of the 14th and

15th centuries and ideas of French philosopher René Descartes (1576–1650). At this time the French

opened the garden up to enormous proportions compared to their Italian predecessor. Their gardens

epitomize monarch and 'man' dominating and manipulating nature to show his authority, wealth, and


Renée Descartes, the founder of analytical geometry, believed that the natural world was objectively

measurable and that space is infinitely divisible. His belief that "all movement is a straight line

therefore space is a universal grid of mathematical coordinates and everything can be located on its

infinitely extendable planes" gave us Cartesian mathematics. Through the classical French gardens

this coordinate system and philosophy is now given a physical and visual representation.

This French formal and axial garden style placed the house centrally on an enormous and mainly flat

property of land. A large central axis that gets narrower further from the main house, forces the

viewer's perspective to the horizon line, making the property look even larger. The viewer is to see the

property as a cohesive whole but at the same time is unable to see all the components of the garden.

One is to be led through a logical progression or story and be surprised by elements that aren’t visible

until approached. There is an allegorical story referring to the owner through statues and water

features which have mythological references. There are small, almost imperceptible grade changes

that help conceal the gardens surprises as well as elongate the gardens views.

These grand gardens have organized spaces meant to be elaborate stages for entertaining the court

and guests with plays, concerts and fireworks displays. The following list of garden features were






Cul de sac


Grottos with rocaille


Parterre de broderie

Patte d'oie (Goose foot)

Tapis Vert


Mediterranean Gardens

Due to being an early hub for Western society and being used for centuries, Mediterranean soil was

fragile, and one could think of the region’s landscape culture to be a conflict between fruitfulness and

frugality. The area consisted largely of small­scale agricultural plots. Later, following World War II,

Mediterranean immigrants brought this agricultural style to Canada, where fruit trees and vegetables in

the backyard became common.

Anglo­Dutch gardens

Anglo­Dutch formal gardens

Picturesque and English Landscape gardens

Main articles: English garden, Landscape garden and French landscape garden

Forested areas played a number of roles for the British in the Middle Ages, and one of those roles was

to produce game for the gentry. Lords of valuable land were expected to provide a bounty of animals

for hunting during royal visits. Despite being in natural locations, forested manor homes could

symbolize status, wealth and power if they appeared to spare no amenities. After the Industrial

Revolution, Britain’s forest industry minimized until it no longer existed. In response, the Garden City

Movement brought urban planning into industrialized areas in the early 20th century to offset negative

industrial effects such as pollution.

There were several traditions that influenced English gardening in the 18th century, the first of which

was to plant woods around homes. By the mid­17th century, coppice planting became consistent and

was considered visually and aesthetically pleasing. Whereas forested areas were more useful for

hunting purposes in Britain during the Middle Ages, 18th century patterns demonstrate a further

deviation in gardening approach from practicality toward design meant to please the senses.

Likewise, English pleasure grounds were influenced by medieval groves, some of which were still in

existence in 18th century Britain. This influence manifest in the form of shrubbery, sometimes

organized in mazes or maze­like formations. And though also ancient, shredding became a common

characteristic of these early gardens, as the method enabled light to enter the understory. Shredding

was used to make garden groves, which ideally included an orchard with fruit trees, fragrant herbs and

flowers, and moss­covered pathways.

The picturesque garden style emerged in England in the 18th century, one of the growing currents of

the larger Romantic movement. Garden designers like William Kent and Capability Brown emulated

the allegorical landscape paintings of European artists, especially Claude Lorraine, Poussin and

Salvator Rosa. The manicured hills, lakes and trees dotted with allegorical temples were sculpted into

the land.

By the 1790s there was a reaction against these stereotypical compositions; a number of thinkers

began to promote the idea of picturesque gardens. The leader of the movement was landscape

theorist William Gilpin, an accomplished artist known for his realistic depictions of Nature. He preferred

the natural landscape over the manicured and urged designers to respond to the topography of a

given site. He also noted that while classical beauty was associated with the smooth and neat,

picturesque beauty had a wilder, untamed quality. The picturesque style also incorporated

architectural follies—castles, Gothic ruins, rustic cottages—built to add interest and depth to the


Controversy between the picturesque school and proponents