The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 2: The Influence of Climates on Gardens

Garden design in Assyria

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966. As to the more extensive paradises or parks in which wild beasts were admitted, and even whole regiments exercised, we have but few authentic particulars respecting them. Those of Assyria must be regarded as royal extravagances, calculated to excite astonishment and admiration at their magnitude, and the art and expense employed in their construction; and, if any reliance is to be placed in the account given by ancient authors of the hanging gardens of Babylon, their design will be found singularly to unite this object with the minor beauties of the confined garden ; to combine the splendour of magnificence with the delights of the justest feelings of nature. They were situated over, or, according to some, adjoining to, King Nebuchadnezzar's palace, or on a platform supported by lofty pillars, on the banks of the Euphrates, in the middle of the city of Babylon. They are said to have contained groves, fountains, and, in short, every object which we have mentioned, as appertaining to the more ordinary description of Eastern gardens. The king's object, in forming these gardens, is said to have been, to gratify his Median queen by that sort of verdant scenery and distant prospect to which she had been accustomed in the more romantic country of her birth. The height, then, would give that commanding prospect of the water and shipping of the Euphrates and the city, as well as the gardens within and without its walls, which she particularly desired. The air in that elevated region would be more cool than below ; the noise and bustle of the city would cease to be offensive; the whole would be more exposed to breezes and winds; and the mind, deriving so much enjoyment in so singular and elevated a situation, must have experienced emotions at once sublime and romantic. But a faint idea of these gardens will be excited, by imagining the quadrangle of Somerset House crowned with a portion of Kensington gardens; or of the summer garden of St. Petersburgh placed over the Kremlin in Moscow.