Wooden recreation of an ancient Egyptian garden.
Pavillion at Qianglong gardens. Photo by Etti bonn-Muller.
Gardens are ephemeral. Few are handed down from generation t generation. In my own block, a three-generation garden had pretty vanished in less than ten years. A block away, the garden of a historical building has also disappeared. Lilacs, peonies, Rx, Doctor Huey, Dr, Van Fleet, Dorothy Perkins, and May Queen roses endure in cemeteries, at abandoned farmhouses and in a few gardens of West Virginia's Tri-County--, Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan--where I live. That is a good thing. Gardening might have been one of the strongest links shared by the British, Irish, Italian and German, German-Jewish and African immigrants who first built homes in my community once the indigenous had been displaced. These long lived plants tell something of the people who founded Tri-County communities. They tell us that they did more than raise crops, build mills--there were once seventeen of them in my town--and make weapons.
Sure, it is not ancient Egypt or even the more recent mid-eighteenth century Qianlong. Yet, a knowledge of the gardens local folks created we might help us understand our past better. Kathryn Gleason, professor of landscape architecture at Cornell University and founder of www.gardenarchaeology.com put it more eloquently in Archaeology Magazine,