How has the motivation for garden making changed throughout the period we have studied in this class?
When looking at the Roman Garden, we discovered the heightened importance of art, beauty and design in society. Perhaps the garden was a refuge from the chaos of daily life and violent gladiator matches. The concept of otium, or stepping back from obligations and entering into creative and enlightening, yet still productive leisure time, was a key inspiration for the garden. Gardens were a place to relax and a sign of affluence. Pursuing pleasurable activities, whether it is making music, writing, debating, talking or playing sports contributes to personal development and raises quality of life. The idea of spending free time in a productive manner helps to create a better individual. Roman gardens were cool, aesthetically pleasing and allowed for religious expression.
The Medieval Garden had many objectives depending on societal class. Kings and Nobles were far too engaging to ever have religious or utilitarian gardens. Gardens were more akin to nature in that there were wild animals roaming around. Hunting, jousting and courting were popular activities for Kings and Nobles in Medieval gardens. Gardens at this time were either ornamental or productive, but were always a paradisiacal sanctuary. There was a sense of impending doom in the heavily defensive castles and architecture of the time. The monks and the lower class were roused by the functionality of gardens, both exploiting their production. The enclosed cloister gardens were primarily ornamental and often seen as a religious allegory for the Virgin Mary. Cloisters were seen as an earthly Eden for the Monks, some would say they turned into an image of the Church.
Islamic gardens had a primary motive, and their style was detailed in their religious text the Qu’ran. Religion was the principal motivation for the building of Islamic gardens. The garden was an earthly expression of paradise characteristic of what the afterlife looks like. Beauty was seen as a pious feat, both internally and externally. Meditation and self-reflection were common activities in Islamic gardens. The importance of gardens in the heated, dry climate was a place of shade, the invigorating four channels of water being the source of life. The garden was also seen, as in Roman times, as a way to improve quality of life.
The Renaissance was a time of intellectual spirit, when science meets art in geometry. The rise of humanism sparked change in art, nature and it’s religious significance. Humanists wanted to understand God & Nature, and this combined with the revival of the classics led to a whole new garden form. Classical gods and goddesses were seen in sculptures and fountains. In this more open, free society, the individualistic motif of mans ability to think and decide for himself is exhibited in garden as gardens were a form of expression for the designer. The expansive, outward sensation was a symbol of freedom and new ideas. Individual incentive for garden making did vary however by country, in Spain and Portugal, it was mainly religious, sometimes it symbolized culture or was a more architectural accomplishment.