The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 1 On some early garden history

Conservation of gardens in India and Italy

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Mughal garden design The grand old terrace gardens of India and Kashmir lie for the most part forlorn and neglected, or so changed that nearly all their charm and character are lost. This is strange when these large water-gardens have so much in common with their European contemporaries, the Italian gardens of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries-the vast pleasure-grounds in the building of which the Cardinals and Princes of the Renaissance vied with each other, piling up those wondrous terraces overlooking the blue rolling waves of the Roman Campagna, or crowning the heights of Fiesole above the quiet beauty of the Arno valley, where the brown towers and dark cypress spires rise through the silver mist of olive trees. When these Italian gardens are so much admired, photographed, and visited, why are the Mughal baghs of the Indian foot-hills and the great gardens of the Dal Lake forgotten, and Indian garden-craft as a whole ignored ? I am speaking now of garden-design, gardening in its artistic sense, for gardening in a horticultural sense still flourishes in India. It is best to be quite clear about these two aspects of garden-craft. One may be regarded as the building of the house, the other as the furnishing. One is the art of building and planning for all time and for all generations; the other the art wherewith each generation in its turn replants according to its pleasure. Speaking strictly, horticulture is not an art at all, but only the science of improving form and flavour, scent and colour, and is quite apart from the garden-craft which afterwards can in combination and arrangement make use of such knowledge with artistic skill. Naturally in a scientific age, the scientific side of gardening makes the first appeal; but both aspects are equally important, and it is the common confusion of these two quite separate ideas which has gone far to destroy European garden-design.