Le jardin secret

A short history of gardens, to understand what the expression secret garden means.

General Knowledge: the Secret

Genesis, of course, begins the importance of the garden. It is a paradise on earth.

In Eastern countries, the garden has a protective function: it serves to preserve oneself from the sun, especially in ancient Egypt or Persia.

The tradition of having multi-level gardens in Persia was continued by the Arabs. Benoist-Makin, a specialist in history and the Arab world, says that these are places where happiness is voluptuous.

In Roman times, gardens were symbols of power, power over nature which was now better controlled. They are also the place where the gods meet those who pass through the garden.

The garden as a space mastered by men is a symbol of culture and progress.

In the Christian religion, the followers of the prophets had gardens whose square shape and enclosure gave what we call today cloisters. This is a profound change, because the garden is no longer a place of pleasure, but a place of piety.

At the time of the Renaissance, the idea of celestial harmony was lost, and all the “disturbed” spirits entered. The harmony that used to emerge is replaced by monsters here and there, by more frightening statues. This is the case of Barmazo, near Viterbo, with a corpse with flowers as the entrance door.

During the reign of Queen Victoria, the secret garden became the place of tales. Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, or Secret Garden of Frances Hodgson Burnett. The garden becomes a place to escape from the sad reality and find the innocence of childhood.

→ Secret Definitions

Then comes the time of contemporary gardens, made for example for the city of New York by Russel Page:

“A garden that dazzles the passing visitor is hardly a garden to be enjoyed” Russel Page.

“I try to avoid effects because any surprise, no matter how discreet, is an attack on the serenity that I consider more essential than ever in an urban garden.” Russell Page, Education of a Gardener.

→ Quotes on Secrecy