The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 1: Gardening in the Ancient World

Athens Gardens

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29.The vale of Tempe, however, as described in the third book of �lian's Varia Historia, and the public gardens of Athens, according to Plutarch, prove that the philosophers and great men of Greece were alive to the beauties of verdant scenery. The academus or public garden of Athens, Plutarch informs us, was originally a rough uncultivated spot, till planted by the general Cimon, who conveyed streams of water to it, and laid it out in shady groves, with gymnasia or places of exercise, and philosophic walks. Among the trees were the olive, the plane, and the elm; and the two last sorts had attained to such extraordinary size, that at the siege of Athens by Sylla, in the war with Mithridates, they were selected to be cut down, to supply warlike engines. In the account of these gardens by Pausanias we learn that they were highly elegant, and decorated with temples, altars, tombs, statues, monuments, and towers; that among the tombs were those of Pirithous, Theseus, �dipus, and Adrastes; and at the entrance was the first altar dedicated to love.