Backstories of World’s Cultural Landscapes and Gardens

Updated on January 15, 2024 by Meg Pier

Gardens and Landscapes

Meet Cultural Stewards of Stunning Landscapes and Gardens

What is meant by culture? It's an extensive and finely nuanced idea that embraces a multitude of assorted representations. Certainly, a comprehensive explanation of culture would be insufficient without including landscapes and gardens.

Landscapes and Gardens are culturally universal. What do we mean by "cultural universals"? These are elements of society that every culture has. How they are carried out or their role in a given community in different cultures may vary--but we all are very familiar with these behaviors or ways of life as being part of the human condition. There are many more cultural universals, but these are the ones we explore here at PAC.

Landscapes and gardens are two different ways to encounter our natural physical surroundings. Gardens are an aesthetic arrangement of nature, whereas landscapes may or may not have reflected intervention by humans.

Gardens have been a part of the human experience since Time Immemorial. Certainly, the Garden of Eden is a part of the collective human psyche. The concept of gardens originated as enclosed spaces, mainly to keep out animals. Gardening began in West Asia and spread to Greece, then other parts of Europe. Ornamental horticulture can be seen on Egyptian tombs that date to the 16th century B.C.

Did you know the term landscape originates in the Netherlands? It comes from the Dutch word "landschap" which means paintings of the countryside. A landscape is a perfect example of something that is universal and personal; since it describes what can be viewed from one spot, every locality has one but each is unique. A landscape can be pristine and untouched by man, or it can be a cultural landscape, meaning it has been modified in some way by people.

Not surprisingly, there are many traditions linked to man’s relationship with the earth. Whether cutting peat in the Scottish Highlands, tending an Azorean garden that was created almost a quarter of a millennia ago, or practicing the ancient art of beekeeping in the Slovenian hinterlands, terrestrial traditions pay homage to our human connection to the planet. Read on for personal accounts of cultural connections to the land and the myriad ways in which people relate to their landscape.

Cranberry Bogs Inspire a Beloved U.S. Tradition

Cranberry Bogs Inspire a Beloved U.S. Tradition

Cranberry bogs in Massachusetts are beautiful to behold in the fall, and the zesty fruit has a fascinating history. Read on to learn more!

Definitive Guide to Archaeology Sites of Dingle’s Slea Head Drive

Definitive Guide to Archaeology Sites of Dingle’s Slea Head Drive

The Dingle Peninsula has a rich culture and heritage, specifically Irish Ogham Stones. Meet Irish archaeologist Isabel Bennett to hear more.

Madeira Island is Plant Lovers Paradise

Madeira Island is Plant Lovers Paradise

Explore the Portuguese island of Madeira, a plant lover’s paradise with 3,000 species of flowers and lush national parks.

The Legendary Landscape of The Isle of Skye Scotland

The Legendary Landscape of The Isle of Skye Scotland

The Isle of Skye in Scotland is where geology meets literature with wonders like Kilt Rock, MacLeod’s Tables and Neist Point!

Mangroves Are Explored and Protected with Sustainable Tourism By Eco Activist

Mangroves Are Explored and Protected with Sustainable Tourism By Eco Activist

In Cartagena beach of La Boquilla, ecotourism is preserving mangrove forests and the cultural heritage of its Afro Caribbean community.

Eden Project in Cornwall Seeks to Inspire Green Enlightenment

Eden Project in Cornwall Seeks to Inspire Green Enlightenment

The Eden Project in Cornwall is an international eco attraction that connects the living world. Get a behind the scenes look from the people who run it!

Love of Irish Culture and Landscape Shared by Preservationist Micheál Mac Gearailt

Love of Irish Culture and Landscape Shared by Preservationist Micheál Mac Gearailt

Irish culture is renowned for its literature and drama. In this Q and A, we explore the connection between Irish heritage and landscape.

Lost Gardens of Heligan Meet the Stewards

Lost Gardens of Heligan Meet the Stewards

Lost Gardens of Heligan is a historic garden in Cornwall. Get a behind the scenes look from the team that tends the diverse ecosystems of its 200 acres.

Levada Walks in Madeira Will Wow Culture Lovers

Levada Walks in Madeira Will Wow Culture Lovers

If you love nature, stunning scenery and immersing yourself in a historic cultural landscape, then levada walks in Madeira are an experience you must have!

Gardener of Terra Nostra Park Azores Follows in Her Father’s Footsteps

Gardener of Terra Nostra Park Azores Follows in Her Father’s Footsteps

Explore the Terra Nostra, Azores and Carina Costa who is a second-generation steward of Terra Nostra Gardens, a cultural landmark.

Monticello Plantation Garden Preserves Jefferson’s Retreat

Monticello Plantation Garden Preserves Jefferson’s Retreat

Monticello Plantation was Thomas Jefferson’s botanical sanctuary. Learn about the charms and history of this UNESCO site in Virginia.

The Meaning of Hygge, Denmark’s Spiritual Foundation

The Meaning of Hygge, Denmark’s Spiritual Foundation

The meaning of Hygge is believed to be the spiritual foundation of Denmark. Meet locals who share their personal definition of hygge!

Tofino British Columbia | Experience Hishuk ish ts’ awalk

Tofino British Columbia | Experience Hishuk ish ts’ awalk

Tofino, British Columbia is home to the philosophy hishuk ish ts’ awalk, ‘we are all one’. Learn the connection of its people and landscape!

Skyline Drive in Virginia Where Culture and Scenery Are Preserved

Skyline Drive in Virginia Where Culture and Scenery Are Preserved

Thinking of a trip on gorgeous Skyline Drive in Virginia? Learn the history of this national treasure from a local ranger!

Why Slovenians Proposed Creation of World Bee Day

Why Slovenians Proposed Creation of World Bee Day

World Bee Day was proposed by Slovenia, a country that founded the science of beekeeping and has many beloved bee-related cultural traditions!

Kenyan Eco-Architect Hitesh Mehta and the Web of Life

Kenyan Eco-Architect Hitesh Mehta and the Web of Life

Hitesh Mehta is the director of HM Design, one of the world’s leading authorities, practitioners and researchers on ecotourism physical planning.

Aran Islands Travel Guide

Guide To The Aran Islands Of Inishmore And Inishmaan

The culture and history of the Aran Islands of Inishmore and Inishman are revealed by locals in our guide. Get the Celtic backstory to these islands off Galway

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