Heavenly Beauty Earthly Delight – Gardens of Paradise

On a dark, foggy November evening in north Herefordshire Adrian James transported us across the world to visit a number of different gardens in different countries but all with one theme. Although often referred to as Islamic gardens they are more accurately described as Persian gardens, the first one being created in 546 BC by Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae, 1,000 years before Islam.

The gardens provided a tranquil place to rest for the traveller possibly after many days of crossing dry, rocky, mountainous terrain. The mountains however provided a key part of the gardens, with very precise mining and tunnelling, meltwater was transported, sometimes hundreds of kilometres to create the gardens
and surrounding cities. All the fountains and water features are operated by gravity, a feat of engineering.

The key elements of the Persian garden were:

  • Water – both the sound and smell
  • Shade – protection from the sun
  • Seating Areas – places to rest after travel
  • Colour – nearly always green being restful on the eyes
  • Scent – relaxing

The gardens are formed in multiples of four divided by rills of water or paths, representing the spiritual aspect of the garden. The four elements being Fire, Water, Earth and Air.

Although originally created in Persia, modern day Iran, this style of garden was spread throughout the world by the followers of Islam as they created an empire stretching from the middle east across north Africa to Spain and by the Moghuls moving from Iran to India in the sixteenth century.

Some gardens are more practical such as the Menara Gardens at Marrakech where the water can be used to irrigate large orchards, others more symbolic such as the Taj Mahal. Other famous gardens being the Alhambra in Granada and the Jardin Marjorelle in Marrakech which even has a colour named after it due to its use in the garden “Bleu Majorelle”.

Persian gardens are not just confined to hot areas and there are a number rather closer to home you can visit,
The Pant at Abergavenny, The Alhambra Garden Roundhay Park Leeds, The Mughal Gardens Lister Park Bradford, Sezincote Moreton in Marsh, The Moorish Gardens Kingham Lodge Cotswolds.

The talk was beautifully illustrated with photographs taken by Adrian on his travels throughout the world.

Stock photo – Sezincote

Nick Russell