Backstories of World’s Cultural Landscapes and Gardens

Updated on January 27, 2023 by Meg

Gardens and Landscapes

Meet Cultural Stewards of Stunning Landscapes and Gardens

What is culture? It's a broad and yet nuanced concept that encompasses many different manifestations. Certainly, no comprehensive definition of culture would be complete without including landscapes and gardens.

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.