Paradise by the back porch light

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ornamental gardening is not new. There is early historical evidence that gardens were used around ancient Egyptian tombs.

There were lotus ponds surrounded by palms. Then there were the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, renowned as a Wonder of the World.

Throughout Greece around 350 BC, a status symbol for many, were the various gardens created to honor the gods. Philosophers like Aristotle and Plato were known to enjoy gardening

The most influential ancient gardens in the western world were the Ptolemy’s gardens at Alexandria and the gardening tradition brought to Rome by Lucullus. Wall paintings in Pompeii attest to elaborate development later, and the wealthiest of Romans built enormous gardens, many of whose ruins are still to be seen, such as at Hadrian’s Villa.

Byzantium and Moorish Spain kept garden traditions alive after the 4th century. By this time a separate gardening tradition had arisen in China, which was transmitted to Japan, where it developed into aristocratic miniature landscapes centered on ponds and separately into the severe Zen gardens of temples.

In Europe, gardening revived in Languedoc and the Ile-de-France in the 13th century, and in the Italian villa gardens of the early Renaissance. French parterres developed at the end of the 16th century and reached high development under Andre le Notre. English landscape gardens opened a new perspective in the 18th century.

The 19th century saw a welter of historical revivals and Romantic cottage-inspired gardening, as well as the rise of flower gardens, which became dominant in home gardening in the 20th century.

Locally, Dr. Everett and Mrs. (Suzie) Snow continue the tradition of ornamental gardening at their Woodvalley Road home. The garden includes many plant species that when in bloom shower their backyard in a rainbow of colors. They also have numerous statues in various locations, but the dominant feature is their rock garden and pond that is filled with different fish.

Dr. Snow said the garden is a specialty of his wife and that he enjoys seeing her get pleasure from creating new spots and looks. Both said when it isn't quite as hot as it has been, the garden offers a wonderful area for an refreshing afternoon beverage and quiet tranquil moments.

It's obvious as Suzie sits and watches their dog, Jasmine and the fish in the pond, that she enjoys her time there. And shortly after Dr. Snow arrives home from his dental practice, he can be found out by the pond feeding the fish, who have learned to recognize the two who take care of their needs.

Dr. Snow said the recent heat wave has taken a toll on some of the garden, but he hopes when Spring returns, the garden will return to its splendor and once more be their own secret paradise.