The Garden Guide

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

Oriental garden design

Previous - Next

965. The plan of an Eastern garden was well calculated to attain the ends in view. Moderate extent and immediate connection with the house are necessary and obvious ingredients in the design. The square form was adapted for the enclosure as the simplest ; the trees were ranged in rows, to afford continuity of shade ; and the walks laid out parallel between them, to admit uninterrupted progress ; that walk parallel to and close under the house was formed into a raised platform or terrace, to give elevation and dignity to the house, to afford the master a commanding view of the garden, and to serve as a connecting link between art and comparative nature. By leaving open plots or squares of turf in the areas, formed by intersecting rows of trees, a free circulation of air was facilitated ; and the same object, as Pliny informs us, was promoted by the quineunx, which admits the breeze from every quarter of the compass more readily than any other disposition. A picturesque or natural arrangement would have stagnated the air, and thus have defeated one of the grand purposes in view. The same reasons would guide them in their choice of spreading broad-leaved trees; and, to thicken their boughs, or deprive them of such branches as were too low, or tended to destroy the balance of the tree, the priming-knife would be occasionally applied. Water in every form suggests the idea of coolness; but, agitated in cascades, fountains, or jets-d'eau, it is used to the best advantage, and the heat of the atmosphere is moderated in proportion to the evaporation which takes place. In still ponds or basins it has another property, that of reflecting the objects around it. Buildings, as arbours, aviaries, covered seats, banqueting-houses, baths, and grottoes, would become requisite for their respective uses, and would abound in proportion to the wealth or rank of the owner. Fruit trees would be introduced in appropriate situations, for the sake of their fruit; and a choice of odoriferous flowers and shrubs would fringe the margin of the walks, to admit of a more easy inspection of their beauties, and a nearer contact of their odours with the olfactory nerves : they would also be disposed in greater profusion, in curious knots or parterres near to the house, or in front of the resting-places or banqueting-rooms. In time, even artificial objects of value, as dials, statues, vases, and urns, would be added, in order to create as much variety and interest in a small spot as was consistent with its utility. Such we have found to be the general arrangement of Eastern gardens ; and as there seems no more obvious way of attaining the wants of those to whom they belonged, we may pronounce it to be perfectly reasonable and natural.