Roman gardens

Roman gardens

(Latin: "horti") were greatly inspired by Greek gardens and were usually in the peristyles. Roman Gardens were indoorFact|date=July 2008. Ornamental horticulture became highly developed during the development of Roman civilisationFact|date=July 2008. The administrators of the Roman Empire (c.100 BC - AD 500) actively exchanged information on agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, hydraulics, and botany. Seeds and plants were widely sharedFact|date=July 2008. The Gardens of Lucullus ("Horti Lucullani") on the Pincian Hill at the edge of Rome introduced the Persian garden to Europe, around 60 BC. The garden was a place of peace and tranquillity-- a refuge from urban life-- and a place filled with religious and symbolic meanings. As Roman culture developed and became increasingly influenced by foreign civilazations through trade, the use of gardens expanded and gardens ultimately thrived in Ancient Rome.


Roman gardens were influenced by Egyptian, Persian, and Greek gardening techniques. Formal gardens existed in Egypt as early as 2800 BC. During the 18th dynasty in Egypt, gardening techniques were fully developed and beautified the homes of the wealthy. Porticos were developed to connect the home with the outdoors and created outdoor living spaces. Persian gardens developed according to the needs of the arid Arab land. The gardens were enclosed to protect from drought and were rich and fertile in contrast to the dry and arid Persian terrain. Pleasure gardens originated from Greek farm gardens, that served the functional purpose of growing fruit. As Alexander the Great conquered parts of Western Asia, he brought back with him new varieties of fruits and plants that prompted a renewed interest in horticulture among Greek people.


In Greek civilization, gardens were used to beautify temple groves as well as to create recreational spaces. Cimon of Athens is said to have torn down the walls of his garden to transform it into a public space. [Semple, Ellen C. "Ancient Mediterranean Pleasure Gardens." Geographical Review 19 (1929): 431.] Open peristyle courts were first designed by the Greeks to fuse homes with the outside world. In Ancient Latium, a garden was part of every farm. According to Cato the Elder, every garden should be close to the house and should have flower beds and ornamental trees.. [Semple, Ellen C. "Ancient Mediterranean Pleasure Gardens." Geographical Review 19 (1929): 435.] Horace wrote that during his time flower gardens became a national indulgence.. [Semple, Ellen C. "Ancient Mediterranean Pleasure Gardens." Geographical Review 19 (1929): 436.] Augustus constructed the Porticus Liviae, a public garden on Equitine Hill in Rome. Outside Rome, gardens tended to proliferate at centers of wealth.

Parts of a Roman Garden

Private Roman gardens were generally separated into three parts. The first, the "xystus", was a terrace that served as an open air drawing room and connected to the home via a covered portico. The xystus overlooked the lower garden, or "ambulation". The ambulatio consisted of a variety of flowers, trees, and other foliage and served as an ideal milieu for a leisurely stroll after a meal, some mild conversation, or other Roman recreation activities. The "gestation" was a shaded avenue where the master of a home could ride horseback or be carried by his slaves. It generally encircled the ambulation, or was constructed as a separate oval shaped space.


Gardens were not reserved for the extremely wealthy. Excavations in Pompeii show that gardens attaching to residences were scaled down to meet the space constraints of the home of the average Roman. Modified versions of Roman garden designs were adopted in Roman settlements in Africa, Gaul, and Britannia. As town houses were replaced by tall apartment buildings, these urban gardens were replaced by window boxes or rooftop gardens.

Roman garden designs were later adopted by Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, and even 20th Century landscape architects.





ee also

*History of gardening
*Gardens of Sallust
*Byzantine gardens

External links

* [ Marie-Luise Gothein on the gardens of the Roman world]

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