(HOST) Commentator Ron Krupp has been thinking about how gardens provide food for both the body – and the spirit.
(KRUPP) Zarathustra is said to have tended a paradise-like garden in an otherwise barren landscape. The word paradise comes from the old Farsi word for exceptional gardens, pairi-daeza, which means a heavenly place on earth.
One of the earliest gardens dates back to Persia – present-day Iran – around 1500 B.C. It was called a garden of paradise and was located within a walled enclosure. The garden was of a four-square design and was used for poetry, music, meditation – and included fruits and flowering plants. The central feature was a fountain that symbolized milk, honey, wine and water.
The Greeks and Romans took up the four-square design, as did monks and nuns throughout Europe. During Medieval times, monasteries were cloistered enclosures with high walls made of stone and thick hedges, where medicinal and culinary herbs were cultivated for the wider community. Prayer was balanced by physical labor in a monk’s day, in which gardening took a large part.
Native Americans also claim a long agricultural heritage. The Three Sisters – corn, beans and squash – were grown throughout the Americas. The tradition of calling these crops the Three Sisters originated with the People of the Longhouse, also known as the Iroquois.
Just as they did in years past, gardens of today provide us a sanctuary, perhaps more welcome than ever in our world of consumption and stress. They are a place of beauty and utility; a place to refresh our spirit; a place to be in touch with the seasons; and a place where soil, rocks, plants, light, shade and water – and humankind – intermingle. In a garden it’s easy to lose oneself before you know it.
Why not fill up your gardenscape with fragrances of aromatic herbs, flowers in varied hues, and vegetables of many varieties? Why not consider containers of tropical annuals – like large white trumpet flowers (Acnistus) – or pots of hot peppers and heirloom tomatoes? Or how about some sculptures, birdbaths, or an archway filled with climbers like morning glories, or scarlet runner beans winding their way up the spine of an arbor?
Kneeling in your garden with a trowel in hand, watching a butterfly hover over a blossom, conjures up the word "idyllic," which translates, "to please in natural simplicity." According to the Bible, a garden was where it all began. Perhaps we’ve been trying to find our way back ever since.