The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

History of gardening in Persia

Previous - Next

2. Of the present State of Gardening in Persia 735. The gardens of the Persians, observes Sir John Chardin, in 1686, 'consist commonly of a grand alley or straight avenue in the centre, planted with plane (the zinzar, or chenar of the East), which divides the garden into two parts. There is a basin of water in the middle, proportionate to the garden, and two other lesser ones on the two sides. The space between them is sown with a mixture of flowers in natural confusion, and planted with fruit trees and roses; and this is the whole of the plan and execution. They know nothing of parterres and cabinets of verdure, labyrinths, terraces, and such other ornaments of our gardens. The reason of which is, that the Persians do not walk in their gardens as we do; but content themselves with having the view of them, and breathing the fresh air. For this purpose they scat themselves in some part of the garden as soon as they come into it, and remain there till they go out.' According to the same author, the most eastern part of Persia (Hyrcania) is one entire and continued parterre from September to the end of April. 'All the country is covered with flowers; and this is also the best season for fruits; since, in the other mouths, they cannot support the heat and unhealthy state of the air. Towards Media and the northern frontiers of Arabia, the fields produce of themselves tulips, anemones, single ranunculuses of the most beautiful red, and crown imperials. In other places, as around Ispahan, jonquils are wild, and flower all the winter. In the season of the narcissus, seven or eight sorts spring up among lilies (Lilium candidum), lily of the valley, violets, of all colours, gillyflowers, and jasmines, all of an odour and beauty far surpassing those of Europe. But nothing can be more beautiful than the peach trees, so completely covered with flowers as to obstruct the view through their branches.' Morier mentions the garden of Azar Gerib, in Ispahan, as extending a mile in length, and being formed on a declivity divided into twelve terraces, supported by walls, each terrace divided into a great number of squares. This garden is devoted to the culture of the most esteemed Persian fruits. The neighbourhood of Bushire was formerly famous for its gardens; but Morier informs us, 'that in the whole territory of Bushire, at this day, there are only a few cotton bushes (Acacia Julibrissin); here and there date-trees; now and then a konar tree (a palm), with water-melons, beringauts (gourds), and cucumbers.' These date trees, the towers, and the presence of camel-drivers, gave this town, when Morier saw it, a truly Persian appearance. (Fig, 207.)