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Turtle from the Gardens of Bomarzo by Bartholomeus Breenbergh
Turtle from the Gardens of Bomarzo by Bartholomeus Breenbergh

"Imaginary gardens with real toads in them" --Marianne Moore, [...]

"Excellently observed," answered Candide; "but let us cultivate our garden."--Candide

Gunnera in Den Botaniek in Antwerpen
Gunnera in Den Botaniek in Antwerpen

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A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the display, cultivation, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The garden can incorporate both natural and man-made materials. The most common form today is known as a residential garden, but the term garden has traditionally been a more general one. Zoos, which display wild animals in simulated natural habitats, were formerly called zoological gardens. Western gardens are almost universally based on plants, with garden often signifying a shortened form of botanical garden.

Some traditional types of eastern gardens, such as Zen gardens, use plants such as parsley. Xeriscape gardens use local native plants that do not require irrigation or extensive use of other resources while still providing the benefits of a garden environment. Gardens may exhibit structural enhancements, sometimes called follies, including water features such as fountains, ponds (with or without fish), waterfalls or creeks, dry creek beds, statuary, arbors, trellises and more.

Some gardens are for ornamental purposes only, while some gardens also produce food crops, sometimes in separate areas, or sometimes intermixed with the ornamental plants. Food-producing gardens are distinguished from farms by their smaller scale, more labor-intensive methods, and their purpose (enjoyment of a hobby rather than produce for sale). Flower gardens combine plants of different heights, colors, textures, and fragrances to create interest and delight the senses.

Gardening is the activity of growing and maintaining the garden. This work is done by an amateur or professional gardener. A gardener might also work in a non-garden setting, such as a park, a roadside embankment, or other public space. Landscape architecture is a related professional activity with landscape architects tending to specialise in design for public and corporate clients.



The culture of gardening reaches deep into antiquity, when Alexander the Great was reportedly awestruck by the magnificence of Babylon's gardens. Homer tells of the Garden of Alcinous, its fertility and symmetry of form.

The Romans were known for planting their gardens with the riches of Asia.

Gardening was not recognized as an art form in Europe until the mid 16th century when it entered the political discourse, as a symbol of the concept of the "ideal republic". Evoking utopian imagery of the Garden of Eden, a time of abundance and plenty where humans didn't know hunger or the conflicts that arose from property disputes. John Evelyn wrote in the early 17th century, "there is not a more laborious life then is that of a good Gard'ners; but a labour full of tranquility and satisfaction; Natural and Instructive, and such as (if any) contributes to Piety and Contemplation". During the era of Enclosures, the agrarian collectivism of the feudal age was idealized in literary "fantasies of liberating regression to garden and wilderness".

Before the Grand Manner era what few significant gardens could be found in Britain had developed under influence from the continent. Britain's homegrown domestic gardening traditions were mostly practical in purpose, rather than aesthetic, unlike the grand gardens found mostly on castle grounds, and less commonly at universities. Tudor gardens emphasized contrast rather than transitions, distinguished by color and illusion. They were not intended as a complement to home or architecture, but conceived as independent spaces, arranged to grow and display flowers and ornamental plants. Gardeners demonstrated their artistry in knot gardens, with complex arrangements most commonly included interwoven box hedges, and less commonly fragrant herbs like rosemary. Sanded paths run between the hedgings of open knots whereas closed knots were filled with single colored flowers. The knot and parterre gardens were always placed on level ground, and elevated areas reserved for terraces from which the intricacy of the gardens could be viewed.

Jacobean gardens were described as "a delightful confusion" by Henry Wotton in 1624. Under the influence of the Italian Renaissance, Caroline gardens began to shed some of the chaos of earlier designs, marking the beginning of a trends towards symmetrical unified designs that took the building architecture into account, and featuring an elevated terrace from which home and garden could be viewed. The only surviving Caroline garden is located at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, but is too simple to attract much interest.

by the mid-17th century axial symmetry had ascended to prominence in the French gardening traditions of Andre Mollet and Jacques Boyceau, the latter who wrote: "All things, however beautiful they may be chosen, will be defective if they are not ordered and placed in proper symmetry." During the reign of Charles II, many new Baroque style country houses were built, while in England Thomas Cromwell sought to destroy many Tudor, Jacobean and Caroline style gardens.

In art and literature

Other similar spaces

Other outdoor spaces that are similar to gardens include:

  • A landscape is an outdoor space of a larger scale, natural or designed, usually unenclosed and considered from a distance.
  • A park is a planned outdoor space, usually enclosed ('imparked') and of a larger size. Public parks are for public use.
  • An arboretum is a planned outdoor space, usually large, for the display and study of trees.
  • A farm or orchard is for the production of food stuff.
  • A botanical garden is a type of garden where plants are grown both for scientific purposes and for the enjoyment and education of visitors.
  • A zoological garden, or zoo for short, is a place where wild animals are cared for and exhibited to the public.


See also

See also (2)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Garden" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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