The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 2: Roman Gardens (500BC-500AD)

Pliny Laurentian Garden

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53. The Villa Laurentina (fig. 6.) was a winter residence on the Tiber, between Rome and the sea; the situation is near Paterno, seventeen miles from Rome, and is now called San Lorenzo. The garden was small, and is but slightly described. It was surrounded by hedges of box, and, where that had failed, by rosemary. There were platforms and terraces; and figs, vines, and mulberries were the fruit trees. Pliny seems to have valued this retreat chiefly from its situation relatively to Rome and the surrounding country, which no walls, fortresses, or belt of wood, hid from his view. On this region be expatiates with delight, pointing out all �the beauty of his woods, his rich meadows covered with cattle, the bay of Ostia, the scattered villas upon its shore, and the blue distance of the mountains; his porticoes and seats for different views, and his favourite little cabinet, in which they were all united. So great was Pliny's attention in this particular, that he not only contrived to see some part of this luxurious landscape from every room in his house, but even while he was bathing, and when he reposed himself; and he tells us of a couch which had one view at the head, another at the feet, and another at the back !� (Preface to the Introduction to Girardin's Essay, &c. p. 20.) We may add, with Eustace and other modern travellers, that the same general appearance of woods and meadows exists there to this day.