Photo via http://ow.ly/bUBD301fUvq
People have a variety of reasons for working in their gardens. Some do it to relieve stress, while others get satisfaction from growing and eating their own vegetables. Working in my garden allows me quiet time to collect my thoughts after a busy week. Did you know that the practice of gardening has been around for centuries? Take a look at some surprising facts about the history of gardening. Enjoy!
How Gardening Began
The oldest type of gardening dates back to prehistoric times. It was known as forest gardening. In the jungles, trees grew on the riverbanks, where they received plenty of water and sunlight. People used the wood from these trees to build shelters and make tools. They soon discovered the usefulness of certain types of trees and endeavored to grow more of them. Vegetable gardens date back to the 1300s and possibly even earlier. People planted seeds in gardens of various shapes and sizes so they could provide their families with food. Through the centuries, gardens moved from practical to decorative. Ancient Egyptians planted elaborate ornamental gardens full of acacias, palms, and colorful flowers. Many of the earliest gardens throughout the world were a mixture of flowers, vegetables, and herbs.
The Enduring Popularity of Gardening
Gardens can convey meaning. This is one of the reasons why the art of gardening has endured through the centuries. At one time, gardens were a status symbol. Wealthy Roman families had gardens full of roses, topiaries, fish ponds, and shaded paths. These well-planned gardens were tended with care to reflect the high social status of the family. Other gardens represent stories from the Bible. Persians created “paradise gardens” featuring channels of water that symbolize rivers. Cross these “rivers of Heaven” to proceed into a garden full of fruit trees. These trees represent God’s creations on Earth. Today, many people around the world enjoy the creativity involved in planning and planting a garden in their own backyard!
Popular Types of Gardening
There have been many types of gardens throughout history. One example is the ornamental garden. An ornamental garden features colorful flowers, fish ponds with aquatic plants, shady walkways, and even statues. Ornamental gardens are quiet, peaceful places to spend time. Another type of popular garden is the kitchen garden. Kitchen gardens were a familiar sight in medieval monasteries. These small, rectangular gardens were used for growing cabbage, parsnips, leeks, onions, and other vegetables. The monks would use these vegetables for their own meals. Plus, laboring in kitchen gardens was a part of the manual labor expected of monks at that time. Cottage gardens were especially popular in the Elizabethan period. These gardens contain a combination of fruits, herbs, and ornamental flowers.
Photo of an ornamental garden via http://ow.ly/QL4u301g4d6
Centuries of Gardening
In 612 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the building of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. These were actually terrace gardens built to remind his wife, Amyitis, of the lush mountains where she was born. They were full of exotic plants and were watered by pumps that drew water out of the Euphrates River. In 2000 B.C., Native Americans began planting rows of corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers to use in foods and medicines. 13th century gardens were full of fragrant herbs, and the 14th century brought raised flowerbeds and trellises brimming with roses. In the 17th century, French formal gardens were created to bring order to natural surroundings. They featured symmetrical pathways, perfectly trimmed shrubbery, and organized groups of blooms. The 18th century brought more natural-looking gardens. The designs of these gardens included footbridges, shrubs, grottoes, and pavilions.
How Gardening Become Popular in the United States
Americans planted victory gardens during World War II. These gardens were filled with vegetables that helped improve the national food supply as the nation worked to feed American soldiers throughout the world. Americans at home were helping in the war effort by planting these gardens. The ability to produce vegetables to keep in reserve appealed to many families. Vegetable gardening continues to be popular in both cities and rural areas throughout America.
Interesting Facts About Gardens and Gardening
- In medieval times, girls and boys used to play the part of scarecrows by chasing birds out of fields and gardens. Later, farmers used to stand guard in their fields to keep the birds away. Today, scarecrows are dressed in overalls and plaid shirts to imitate the appearance of a traditional farmer.
- Singing really can help your plants to grow! Plants and flowers feel vibrations coming from the sound of music playing or a person’s voice. These vibrations can boost their growth.
- A regular box of baking soda can be your secret weapon for getting sweeter tomatoes. Simply sprinkle some baking soda around your tomatoes to lessen the acidity in the dirt.