Gardens to please the eye were completely unknown to early Man. Little did he realize the potential of growing plants and flowers for pleasure. He concentrated on sowing for food.
Gardens in history
Gardens as such are known to have existed as long ago as 3000 BC. Firstly, the courtyard garden was enclosed by the walls of a palace. Secondly, in the seventh century BC the Assyrian king Assurbanipal is shown in a sculpture feasting with his queen reclining on a couch beneath an arbour of vines, attended by musicians. There are many citations of famous gardens in India, Sri Lanka, Persia. As well as in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Roman gardens were designed as a place of peace and solitude. There are many frescoes on the walls of houses excavated in Pompeii. Chinese and Japanese ones are also famous, the latter meticulously designed with every stone having a meaning.
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In medieval times monasteries continued the tradition of garden design. In particular, they planted kitchen gardens, infirmary gardens for medicinal plants, and vineyards. Grass was also noted in medieval gardens as well as fruit trees. The earliest botanical garden was created in Pisa in 1543, followed by that of Padua in 1545. In England a botanical garden was created in Oxford in 1621, followed by Edinburgh in 1667. The famous Kew Gardens were created near London in 1759.
The seventeenth century
In the seventeenth century huge tracts of land were devoted to gardens. Such as that of the famous palace of Versailles in France during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Moreover, many forests were planted around manor houses to encourage hunting during royal visits.
Before the age of gardens, some of the oldest tools in the world were used to grow crops. Many of these have barely changed since Roman times. However, during the seventeenth century more specialized tools became available. Thereafter once gardening became widespread, most tools have become standardized, though many old tools still pass from generation to generation. Not only spades and forks, but many cutting tools.
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To change the topic, in 1843 the first garden gnomes were imported into Britain from Germany, together with Japanese bonsai trees. Gnomes were considered unaesthetic when they proliferated in so many gardens and were banned from the famous Chelsea Flower Show. However, dozens of gardens still dot gnomes and other miniature figures around. About twenty years ago a movement was started in France to ‘liberate garden gnomes’ and these were taken from gardens and ‘liberated’ in nearby forests. This started off as a prank but became so popular that the movement spread to other countries, including Canada, Germany, Spain and the US. In 2008 a man was arrested in France accused of stealing as many as 170 gnomes.
Collecting There are many antique tools available online. Some ornamental stone urns can reach enormous asking prices, as well as stone statues. No doubt garden gnomes are also available !