Changes in Popular Garden Features Over Time

by Kent Higgins

Did you know that gardening is one of the oldest hobbies? Plants have, of course, been around since the beginning of mankind. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and gardening has long been a leisure activity for the elite.

In Asia, plants have been used to treat and cure diseases for hundreds of years. Chinese medicine is especially known for its use of herbs and other plants. Not only have plants been cultivate for their medicinal properties, but also for their beauty. Early on, gardeners learned how to cross two varieties of plants to create a new type of plants. Many of these early plants are useful as well as beautiful.

In the Middle Ages, members of royalty grew gardens of flowers, but most people grew plants as food more than for aesthetic reasons. Herbs were very popular for their healing properties. New spices and herbs were introduced to the European world due to travelers who brought them back from faraway lands.

Between the Middle Ages and the Victorian period, gardens became more popular. Many members of the nobility were famous for their extensive gardens, include Marie Antoinette. Exotic plants because very popular. In the Victorian era, gardening reached heights never before seen in England.

English gardens created during the Victorian era were meant to display the wealth of the homeowner, as well as provide a place for entertaining. Roses were a popular addition to Victorian gardens. Greenhouses and conservatories became popular for hobbyist gardeners to try their hand at growing unique plants from far away lands. Gardeners created many new varieties of common and popular plant species, including begonias and daffodils.

Victorian gardeners soon turned their attention to adding architectural elements to their gardens, as structures and rows of hedges became popular. Topiary plants were also a common addition to English gardens, including those shaped like animals.

In contrast, American gardens of the same time period were a bit more restrained. Many of the founding fathers were farmers with practical vegetable gardens and orchards. Even though flowers and greenhouses were popular, many people lived in cities and did not have room for such luxuries.

After the Revolution, formal lawns with shrubs were replaced by much more elaborate gardens including fountains, large conservatories, and massive plantings. As people began to rely on store-bought medications, plants formerly grown for their medicinal qualities were abandoned in favor of those with more beautiful blooms. Today, the use of herbs is coming back into style, and many modern gardens have a place for herbs and other medicinal plants.

Landscaping plants like the kentia palm plants are becoming more and more popular today as people try to create a retreat in their own backyard. New plant varieties are being developed that are hardier and require less care. As you can see, gardening has long been a popular hobby. If you decide to start a garden, you be continuing a tradition that is many hundreds of years old.

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