Many of us have the common impression that gardens are only composed of vegetation. In fact, when I think of a garden, the first thing that comes to mind are my vegetables. However, a garden can mean different things to different people. Descriptions may be influenced by one’s culture, education, occupation, beliefs, and individual perspective.
For myself, a garden has more than one meaning. Through educational and personal experience, I’ve come to believe that a garden can be anything the designer and/or user wants it to be.
In a design class at university, one of our assignments was to create a garden for a mythical creature, imagined as existing in our present time. At first, this may seem out of this world, but it actually relates to practical experiences where a designer develops a concept for a client. My mythical client was a Greek creature called the Harpy who stole food and goods from others. I proposed a garden created from all of the goods the Harpy had stolen, such as cars. There were no plants in the design. Using this information, the objective was to create a sanctuary for the mythical client.
Another contemporary garden that turned heads is the “Bagel Garden”, designed by Martha Schwartz as an art installation in Boston. The 22 square-foot garden consists of existing hedges and 96 bagels arranged in a grid around the hedges and gravel. The idea came from French renaissance gardens, designed as stage sets for special celebrations. The intention of Martha’s garden design was to celebrate her husband’s return from a business trip through the use of an inexpensive material (bagels) which was also her favourite food. The space no longer exists, but it certainly was a novel surprise for passers-by.
In summary, gardens can be anything. With the right intentions and creativity, you can create your own using whatever materials you want. Some examples include meditative gardens, peace gardens, vegetable gardens, privacy gardens, or even personal gardens.
- De Mesa, Omar. “Harpy Garden.” Rendering. 2014.
- Schwarts, Martha. “Gallery 4.” Bagel Garden, Back Bay Boston, MA USA. http://www.marthaschwartz.com/projects/art_commissions_bagelgarden.php#