"God almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.
It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man." -Francis Bacon
I can't imagine what the very first garden might have looked like. Full of gorgeous flowers, all kinds of trees and green grass. According to Genesis 2, the Lord God planted the first garden and in it he put the first man he formed, "to work it and keep it."
The most famous early landscapes were the hanging gardens of Babylon. Located along the Euphrates River, what is now modern-day Iraq. They were considered to be among one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Created in the first millennium B.C. for the homesick Persian wife of King Nebuchadnezzar II , they were a series of terraces supported on a stone slope. Trees and flowers adorned the small artificial fields. The Babylonian engineers ran into a problem, it rarely rained in Babylon, let alone the gardens were so high up. They came up with a solution. The pool on top of the garden, was released by gates. It acted as streams, watering the garden.
The hanging gardens of Babylon are said to be the beginning of Western Horticulture.
If the picture above, was indeed what the hanging gardens of Babylon resembled, I wonder if the the sights of Machu Picchu in Cusco Peru were a reflection of those gardens?
I visited Machu Picchu with my cousin on a mission trip last January.
While we toured Machu Picchu, we were interested to learn that the Incas had built the city with 600 terraces. The terraces made a flat surface for planting, but they also had surprising advantages. The stone retaining walls heated up during the day and slowly released heat into the soil as temperatures dropped at night. This expanded the growing season and kept the roots of delicate plants warm during the chilly nights. The terraces are extremely productive at conserving water from rain or irrigation canals. The Incas layered each terrace for better drainage, with a layer of stones at the bottom, followed by gravel, sand, and topsoil.
They used different types of soil for different types of plants. They distributed the quantity of water to the appropriate plants. Some required more water, while others didn't. The Incas learned the importance of fertilizers to keep the soil rich and fruitful.
Fast forward to 2015. Urban gardening has a similar growing style as pictured in history. From gardens on top of roofs to hanging wall gardens, urban gardening is leading the way in new (er..perhaps, old) innovating designs. One of my favorite Urban farms via Instagram, is located in NYC. Brooklyn Grange is the leading rooftop garden in America. A one- acre farm, it roughly holds 1.2 million lbs of soil. Brooklyn Grange produces over 50,000 lbs of organic produce yearly. According to the USDA, 15% of the world's food is grown in urban areas.
In 1993, the biggest green wall in the U.S was built in Universal CityWalk in California. Green walls, also known as vertical walls or living walls; are living art. They also act as filters, removing dust and pollen from the air.
As I plan my flower beds, I have been using resource after resource. Books, magazines, and the internet are trusty guides. One thing I can rely on, is the input and experience of my parents. Gardening tips that their parents passed on to them. Probably much like the Babylonians and Incas, and generations following!
How do you plan your garden year to year?
Further reading: The Gardener's Atlas, by: Dr. John Grimshaw