The Academy was the olive grove outside Athens in which Plato set up his school of philosophy. It continued in operation for 900 years. The term was later used by the Ptolomys in Egypt, by Charlemagne in north Europe and by Muslims in Spain. Renaissance Italy saw the foundation of a new Platonic Academy in Florence, which re-established the link between philosophy and gardens.
Adonis was the nourisher of seeds in Greek mythology. This led to the making of 'Adonis gardens' which were small gardens in terracotta pots. They were placed outside Adonis temples during festivals.Example 1: Flowers and Adonis gardens
The etymology of Amphitheatre is from amphi (both, or both sides + theatron (theatre). It means a circular theatre with seating on both sides. Garden amphitheatres are made with landform, planting or stonework.Example 1: Frascati villas
The French term for the Serpentine Style of garden layout is Anglo-Chinois. The term originated with the belief that the 'English' style of garden layout was inspired by the Chinese. Walpole argued against the term.Example 1: Jardin Anglo-Chinois
An Automata is an Italian renaissance term for a mechanical device, usually powered by water, windpower or clockwork. The best surving examples are at Schloss Hellbrunn outside Salzburg in Austria.Example 1: Hellbrunn Garden, Salzburg, Austria
A baluster is a short pillar with a curved outline and a balustrade is a barrier made with pillars of this type and topped with a coping or rail. The word comes from the Greek word (balustion) for a pomegranate flower which resembles the shape of a baluster.Example 1: Italian garden history, Example 2: Roman Baroque
The term Bastion comes from military architecture, meaning the projecting part of a fortification (from the Italian word 'bastire', build). In gardens it means a projecting point (usually octagonal or circular) in a walled garden.
In general use, the word Beautiful means 'possessing beauty'. In the eighteenth century the term was given a specific use (eg by Edmund Burke), in contrast with the word 'Sublime', so that Beautiful meant 'soft, gentle and smooth' while Sublime meant 'dramatic, awe-inspiring and almost frightening. Picturesque was used as an intermediate term.
The word Belvedere dervies from Italian roots (bel= beautiful and vedere=see) and describes a place from which one can see a beautiful view. This place can be a building, usually with open sides, or a defined spot (eg a curved terrace with a seat).Example 1: Florentine early-renaissance
Bosco is an Italian word, usually applied to a wood of evergreen oak (Quercus ilex) with a mysterious air. The Sacro Bosso at Bomarzo is, literally, a sacred wood - inspired by the ancient idea of making a Sacred Grove in association with an Egyptian temple.
Bosquet is a French word, used for a block of trees and shrubs pierced by paths. At Versailles the bosquets are defined by geometrical paths and many contain elaborate features (eg sculpture and fountains) hidden in the trees.
The idea of making a collection of plants is found in Egyptian and Mesopotamian gardens. In classical Greece and Rome, such plants were used for medicinal purposes. This practice was continued in the monasteries of medieval Europe and flourished anew with the scientific concerns of the renaissance. The world now has a large number of botanic gardens most of which are used for the scientific study of plants.
Campagna is the Italian word for open country. The 'Roman campagna' is the countryside around Rome - which was painted by landscape artists (eg Claude and Poussin) and helped to give form to English gardens in the eighteenth century.
The nineteenth century practice of using bedding plants to create carpet-like patterns. The idea derives from the older ideas of knot gardens and parterres. At the end of the nineteenth century 'carpet bedding' became a term of abuse for annual displays of plants, but it remains popular in show gardens and public parks.
Chahar Bagh (pronounced' ch-haar-bah') describes the 'four square' plan of a Persian paradise garden. The term is used in connection with Iranian and Mughal gardens. The oldest example of a rectangular canal pattern is at Passargadae, in Iran, and the oldest example of a square garden with symmetrical crossing canals is at the Alhambra.
The word Classic means 'of the first class' and was first applied to the civilisation of anceint Greece and Rome. It then came to include renaissance art and is now used for anything of good quality 'eg a classic left jab'.
Coade Stone is a composite material made by Mrs Eleanor Coade to give the appearance of stone at a lower price. The formula was kept secret but is thought to have been based on the use of fragments of previously-fired ceramic material with a blend of clays in a firing process. It has great strength and durability.
Court derives from the Latin cohors meaning a company or retinue or persons (who gathered in an enclosed place). The word thus gained a range of uses: the people associated with a king; the place in which legal judgements are given; a place in front of a palace; an enclosed rectangular space within a building. It is ironic, given this derivation, that many courtyards in twentieth century buildings are used only as lightwells.
Dreamstone, in Chinese garden design, is a a translucent stone in which mineral deposits have formed pictures of woods and water (also known as a Journeying Stone). Dreamstones were hung from pavilion walls or set into the backs of chairs.
The Greek word 'exedra' originally meant a building standing apart from a dwelling. Later, it was used for a hall with seating, attached to a peristyle, gymnasium, palaestra or private house. In gardens, it usually means an area with a semicircular area backed by a wall or hedge.
Yard and Garden and Garth derive from the OE geard, and older languages, meaning an enclosure. Dr Johnson gave the following definition of garden: "A piece of ground, enclosed, and cultivated with extraordinary care, planted with herbs or fruit or food, or laid out for pleasure". The key point, as Johnson emphasises, is that a garden is an enclosed place.
The term Gardenesque was coined by J C Loudon to mean 'like a garden' and 'recognizable as a work of art, as distinct from a work of nature'. He recommend that when using the irregular lines of the Picturesque style, all the plants should be exotic to ensure that the garden cannot be confused with a wild place.
A gardenist is a garden designer, and the term comes from Horace Walpole (1762-71)" I have not been able to please myself with a single term that will express ground laid out on principles of natural picturesque beauty, in contradistinction to symmetrical gardens; but I am very clear that the designer of modern improvements in landscape gardens (as I will call them, for want of a happier appellation) ought by no means to bo confounded with the domestic called a gardener ; especially as a word presents itself which will distinguish the different province of designing a garden, and of superintending it when laid out. The latter will remain the gardener, the projector I should propose to denominate a gardenist.". (Vertue's Anecd. Paint. (1786) IV. 106)
The genius of the place (Italian 'genius locii') can be defined as 'the spirit of the place'. Alexander Pope said she must be 'consulted' in the course of making a design. 'Consult the genius of the place' is one of the most widely-supported principles in garden and landscape design.
As described in Pliny the Younger's letters, a gestatio was an avenue set apart for exercise either on horseback on in a horse-drawn vehicle. It was generally laid out in the form of a circus (see hippodrome).
Plato used the cave as an analogy to explain the nature of human understanding. The ancient Greeks were fascinated by caves. Cretan grottoes were sites of mysteries. The ancient Romans liked natural caves and also made artificial caves. The Blue Grotto and Grotta del'Arsenale, on Capri, are famous examples. Alberti recommended grottoes as garden features and they became popular during the renaissance. A room set into the ground and decorated with minerals and shells. The idea of making Garden Grottos dates from classical times and was revived during the renaissance.Example 1: Changes to Versailles
Herber is the medieval word for a planted garden (from the Latin herba=grass, or a herbaceous plant). The herber could be used for medicinal plants or flowers. Later the word came to be used for an arbour.
The name comes Labyrinth comes from the maze of passages where, in Greek mythogy, Theseus had to escape from the Minotaur. In gardens it network of paths designed as a puzzle to entertain visitors.Example 1: Castle gardens in the middle ages
A Lion Dog is a characteristic form of Buddhist and Chinese statue. The lion is a symbol of majesty and the dog is a symbol of loyalty. Buddha's teaching was described as the 'Lion's Roar' and the the Lion Dog, began as a Buddhist symbol. It was placed in temples, then outside buildings and in gardens. See Elsie P. Mitchell The Lion-Dog of Buddhist Asia(1991)
A collection of wild and exotic animals. The idea appeared in Western Asia in ancient times and was common until the nineteenth century. The Wilhelmina in Stuttgart is still managed as a combined botanical garden and zoo.Example 1: The New Building in Vienna, Austria
A Mount is a characteristic feature of English gardens in the Middle Ages. It is a mound, often with a summer house on top, used to provide a view out from an enclosed garden. Sometimes, a circular path led to a seat or bower on the summit.
The Platonic axiom that 'art should imitate nature', which comes from Plato's Theory of Forms, has had a profound influence on garden design. But the meaning of the term 'nature' has varied. Sometimes it has meant 'the world of the forms' and sometimes it has meant 'the everyday world'.
In the fine arts, Neoclassicism is a movement of the second half of the eighteenth century, corresponding to the Enlightenment and the Are of Reason. It arose,like the English landscape garden, as a reaction to the pomposity of the Baroque. Following the example of literary critics, art critics looked back to the glories of Rome, and then Greece, as revealing a noble simplicity and reasoned calm. The movement was encouraged by the German art historian Winckelmann and by the excavation of Pompeii and Herculaneum after 1738. In architecture, Neoclassicism led to the work of the Adam brothers in England, Ledoux in France and Jefferson in America. In music, Neoclassical refers to a twentieth century reaction to the excesses of Romanticism.
The term Neoplatonism ('New Platonism') is used for a school of philosophy which developed in the 3rd century AD. The most influential figures were Plotinus and St Augustine, both of whom were born in Roman North Africa. They took the Theory of Forms, embeded in many of Plato's books, and transformed it into a more specific theory. It came to have a major influence on religious thinking and also on what became known as the Ideal Theory of Art.
The Greeks recognized three Orders in architecture: the Doric Order, the Ionic Order and the Corinthian Order. Each was a style for treating a column with its base, shaft and capital. The Doric Order has a fluted shaft and plain capital. The Ionic Order has slimmer columns and a voluted capital. The Corinthian Order has has a bell-shaped decorated with acanthus leaves.
The word Pagoda came into English from Portuguese and may derive from the Persian butkada=temple for idols (a stupa). It is now used for a sacred Chinese or Indian building, or an imitation of such a building in a garden.
Pall-mall (from the French Paille-maille, and originally from the Italian pallamaglio, palla, ball, and maglio, mallet) is a game, rather like croquet, which led to the making of 'malls' in parks and gardens. This was the original use of The Mall in London.
In general use, the word Picturesque means 'suitable for making into a picture'. In the eighteenth century the term was given a specific use as an intermediate quality between Beautiful and Sublime. It meant 'rough and shaggy'.
Pumice is an igneous rock derived from lava. It is light and porous. Pumice was used as a building stone by the Romans and has been much-used in making grottos because it favour the growth of plants.Example 1: Greek contact with Eastern gardens
Romanticism shows itself in the artist's attitude of mind and choice of subject. It entered the language of art criticism in the eighteenth century (and has since become more widely applied). The word derives from the from the Romances of the Middle Ages, which were written in Romance languages (ie languages, like French) deriving from Latin.. They told of chivalrous deeds in 'romantic' settings. By the late-eighteenth century 'romantic' was being used as a term which contrasted with 'classical'. Nicholas Pevsner argued that the 'irregularity' which affected English gardens in the first quarter of the eighteenth was the first breath of romanticism on European art. Other historians talk of the whole eighteenth century as a 'pre-romantic' period in contrast with the full-blown romanticism of the nineteenth century. Ruined temples beame more significant than new temples because they had a greater affect on the viewer's attitude of mind, suggesting the passage of time, human frailty and heroic deeds in ancient times.
In Ancient Egypt, Sacred Groves were placed within temple compounds. In Homeric Greece they were places of resort, outside citadels, often dedicated to specific gods and associated with a fresh spring or grotto. In Classical Greece, sacred groves were used for physical and intellectual exercise. They became academies, lyceums and gymnasia.
Sharawadgi is a word of uncertain origin, used in connection with the supposed Chinese influence on irregularity in early-eighteenth century gardens. Sir William Temple wrote that "The Chineses scorn this way of planting, and say, a boy, that can tell an hundred, may plant walks of trees in straight lines, and over-against one another, and to what length and extent he pleases. But their greatest reach of imagination is employed in contriving figures, where the beauty shall be great, and strike the eye, but without any order or disposition of parts that shall be commonly or easily observed: and, though we have hardly any notion of this sort of beauty, yet they have a particular word to express it, and, where they find it hit their eye at first sight, they say the sharawadgi is fine or is admirable, or any such expression of esteem."
Ciaran Murray (Journal of the Garden History Society Vol 26 No.2 Winter 1998) argues that Sharawadgi derives from 'the Japanese sorowaji: which, in sound and sense - 'not being regular' - would correspond to Temple's word'. Murray makes a good case for (1) Temple having learned about Japanese gardens from staff of the Dutch East India Company he had met in Holland (2) having a broad concept of 'Cathay' which embraced the culture of China and Japan
In general use, the word Sublime means 'of exalted status'. In the eighteenth century the term was given a specific use (eg by Edmund Burke), in contrast with the word Beautiful (meaning 'soft, gentle and smooth') so that Sublime meant 'dramatic, awe-inspiring and almost frightening.' Picturesque was used as an intermediate term.