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History of Gardening

Earliest gardens

Gardening has its traditional roots in providing food for the local populations. The history of gardening extends across at least 11000 years of human existence. The earliest example of domestication of plants is from the Levantine Corridor, running from the Dead Sea to the Damascus Basin. Carbon dating has identified plants (cereals and other consumables) cultivated by hand, grown as food crops for the inhabitants, dating to 9000BC). The earliest literary evidence for gardening is through Gilgamesh (2600 BC), he describes his town Uruk as being covered by ‘one third gardens’.

The other side of gardening comes from the aesthetic aspects of ornamental plants. Egyptian tomb paintings are the earliest evidence of gardens specifically created for their beauty or for religious purposes. Dating to the 1500s BC, they depict lotus ponds surrounded by symmetrical rows of palms and acacias. There have been numerous examples of similar gardens through history from the early Persian Gardens to the tranquil Roman Gardens and the famous gardens of the Byzantine Empire.

Hydroponics

It is widely assumed that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were a hydroponic system, although there is no definitive proof. However, the floating gardens of the Aztecs of Mexico and those used by the Chinese are early examples of hydroponic culture. Massive advancements have occurred in the world of hydroponics over the last century. The world’s exploding population, wars in remote places as well as our push into space have driven research into growing fresh produce in non-arable areas.

By the 1970s, hydroponic farming had broken free from its more experimental roots and became the choice of farmers and hobbyists alike. Hydroponics is seen by many as the way forward in expanding the world’s capacity to produce food to help address the growing problem of world hunger.

More recently the worldwide push into hydroponics has began to involve educating our future generations. Schools in the UK are becoming increasingly involved with gardening in general, as well as having hydroponic systems incorporated in poly-tunnels, teaching kids the basics from propagation right through until harvests. More information can be found at the Little Growers website.

Gardens of today

The scope of gardens today stretch from public gardens (botanical gardens), across both decorative and functional gardening in backyards, to self contained indoor grow spaces in the home. Ornamental gardens are visited daily throughout the world, their beauty and range of plants ever increasing ensuring their continuation into the future. Garden societies are also stockpiling seeds and various endangered and threatened species in the hope of one day reintroducing them to their native regions if they should be wiped out.