According to the old Bible story, the race of mankind began its existence in a garden. “And the LORD GOD”, it says, “planted a garden eastward, in Eden ; and there He put the man He had formed …. to dress it and keep it.” This first God-planted garden has been called Paradise ; and Milton called his great epic poem, describing how man lost his innocence and his beautiful garden, “Paradise Lost”.
Whatever we may think of this old story, it is certain that men have loved gardens and gardening from the earliest times. The paintings on their tombs prove that the ancient Egyptians planted and loved beautiful gardens. Withered wreaths of flowers grown in their gardens have been found in Egyptian tombs, placed on the mummies by loving hands thousands of years ago. The hanging gardens of Babylon, made and planted by Nebuchadnezzar, are famous in ancient history. The ancient Greeks had their gardens, and sang of the Garden of the Hesperides, where the trees bore golden apples, and were guarded by the unsleeping dragon. The nobles of ancient Rome surrounded their country villas with well laid-out gardens, vineyards and olive yards. Persia was famous for its gardens of roses and aromatic trees; and in India, the Moguls, who were great garden lovers, made and planted such famous gardens as Shalimar and Nishat Bagh in Kashmir.
The English, too, are great garden lovers ; and almost every Englishman who has a plot of land about his house turns it into a garden. Gardening is a delightful and most interesting hobby ; and famous men, like Lord Bacon, who wrote a delightful essay on “Garden” have cultivated gardens with their own hands from the pure love of it. “God Almighty first planted a garden,” wrote Bacon, “and, indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man; without which buildings and palaces are but gross handy works.”
A beautiful garden is itself a constant source of pleasure. It forms a quiet retreat where one can rest, “far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife”, soothed by the singing of birds, and the sight of cool, smooth green lawns of grass, beds of gay flowers that fill the air with sweet scents, and the grateful shade of beautiful trees. No wonder men have dreamt of a garden as the scene of their first state of innocence, and of a Paradise to come after this weary life is over.