From Babylon to Ecological Design: A Brief History of Garden Design
Updated: Jun 8
Early civilizations have been fascinated by plants and here are some examples:
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, were probably not a garden at all. Historians believe that they were actually a series of tiered terraces with plants and trees growing on them, rather than a traditional garden as we know it today.
The ancient Egyptians were the first to create gardens specifically for pleasure, rather than for practical purposes such as food production. These gardens featured symmetrical designs and were often enclosed by walls.
In ancient Rome, gardens were an important part of daily life. Wealthy Romans had elaborate gardens with fountains, statues, and even miniature mountains. Some Roman gardens even had rooms built into them for dining and relaxation.
Islamic garden design was heavily influenced by the principles of mathematics and geometry. This is evident in the use of symmetrical designs and the use of water as a key element.
In medieval Europe, gardens were often enclosed by walls for protection and privacy. These gardens featured symmetrical designs and were often used for medicinal purposes.
During the Renaissance, Italian garden design became popular across Europe. These gardens featured classical elements such as fountains, statues, and terraces, and were often designed to be viewed from above.
In the 18th century, the English landscape garden became popular. These gardens were designed to look natural and were inspired by the romantic landscapes depicted in paintings. They often featured lakes, winding paths, and follies.
The 19th century saw the rise of the formal garden, with designs inspired by the French gardens of Versailles and Vaux-le-Vicomte. These gardens featured symmetrical designs, topiary, and fountains.
In the 20th century, garden design became more experimental, with designers such as Gertrude Jekyll and Vita Sackville-West using colour theory and plant combinations to create new styles of garden design as well as Piet Oudolf leading the New Perennial movement.
Today, garden design continues to evolve, with a focus on sustainability and ecological design. Green roofs, rain gardens, and urban agriculture are just a few of the modern garden design trends that are gaining popularity.
In conclusion, the history of garden design is rich and varied, with influences from ancient civilizations, mathematics, and art. From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to modern ecological design, garden design has evolved and adapted to reflect the changing times and cultural trends of each era.