Thursday’s Special: Earthly Paradise


The etymology of the word garden shows that it came into the English language in c. 1300 from Old North French gardin (Modern French jardin subsequently entered Italian, Spanish and Portuguese as giardinojardin and jardim), which was derived from Vulgar Latin “hortus gardinus” meaning enclosed garden. The Frankish word for garden was gardo, from Proto-Germanic gardaz, (Old High German gard, gart meaning an enclosure or compound, appears in the name of the town Stuttgart). The Proto-Slavic word gord for fortified settlement which later evolved into grad and means town or city, can be seen in many Slavic toponyms such as in the older name for St Petersburg, Petrograd.

Thus the original Latin denominator for garden “hortus gardinus” passed on the second part of the expression “gardinus” meaning “enclosure” to denote garden in modern Germanic and Romance languages, whereas the first part of the term “hortus” which actually means “garden” has been preserved in scholarly terms like horticulture, orchard.

Enclosed, protected (guarded) piece of land, garden is also a cognate of “guard” because defence against two or four-legged varmints is the common concern of both guarding and gardening.

Gardens appeared in the beginnings of Neolithic revolution (approx. 11,500 – 5,000 years ago) when gradual shift from hunting-gathering to farming gave birth to sedentary societies. With the development of early agriculture, social, economic and cultural practices also evolved and led to what is known as civilisation.

Contrary to gardens where nature is subdued, ordered, selected and enclosed, forests are representatives of unorganised, untamed nature where access is not restricted by a deed of ownership, but by mere geography. The garden is a symbol of the soul, and the qualities cultivated in it, a symbol of the consciouss and the female receptive principle as opposed to the adamant forest which can be seen as a symbol of unconscious.

Despite the safety and bountifulness of the garden, the magic of the forest has always had a more alluring quality for me.

Which one would you rather have: a garden with its tamed character and regulated nature, or a forest, unruly and unpredictable?

**About Thursday’s Special: It is a new ‘non-challenge’ challenge that appeals to bloggers eager to wake up their creativity and show their own ideas and interpretation of the world. I invite everybody interested to join in. There are no themes, titles and techniques set for your expression, there are no limits and restrictions (no red tape whatsoever). The only thing required is to post a photo post on Thursdays entitled “Thursday’s Special: (your theme/title)” (as explained in my Thursday’s Special introductory post), to provide a link to my Thursday’s Special post, and to leave a link to your post in the comments section of my post. If you like Thursday’s Special widget, feel free to grab it and post it on your blog.


Check out the beautiful entries for this week’s Thursday’s Special:

72 Comments on “Thursday’s Special: Earthly Paradise

  1. Verdant lanscape! And thank you for the lesson in etymology 🙂
    I prefer a more natural landscaping to a symmetrical, formal garden.


  2. Interesting post about the origin of ‘garden’. Although I love hiking in the woods, there is something more tranquil about having a garden and working on it’s growth. I enjoy sitting out in my patio, enclosed by my production and embracing all the colors. Its serene.


    • From what I’ve heard gardening is one of the most-fulfilling jobs/passtimes one can have. I cannot judge as I never grew anything :D, but I would love to give it a shot 🙂 Thank you for your lovely visit and comment.


  3. Thank you for sharing the knowledge of etymology! Good reading, Paula! I always like to grow flowers in my yard 🙂 When we lived in Colorado, our house was facing mountain and open field, and I had a small garden 🙂


    • Oh I know about your wonderful green thumb, Amy. How lucky you must have been to have a garden overlooking mountain and open field – a true earthly paradise 🙂


  4. Nature inspires me and so I vote for the forest. However, there are times too I find serenity in a garden…it all depends.


    • Oh yes, I feel exactly like you 🙂 Forest is very inspiring, adventurous, but garden can give us that feeling of security and serenity 🙂


  5. Pingback: Thursday Special – Earthly Paradise (Home in Maple Bluff, Wisconsin) | Points of View

  6. Pingback: Thursday Special – Earthly Paradise (Home in Maple Bluff, Wisconsin) | Points of View

    • I’ve just checked it out, Rob. This looks like a paradise to me 🙂 Thank you so much for your beautiful contribution.


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  9. What a lovely and truly inspiring idea, Paula! I’d love to join in, but my time is momentarily extremely restricted. Still, I enjoy watching your great work and thank you so much for this fine lesson in etymology. Being a blogger is very educating! 🙂 Have a lovely day, my dear.. Big hug to you ♥


    • 😀 my dear Dina, I am so late responding to comments, it has been a bit crazy around here the last weekend 🙂 Thank you so much for your visit and comment ❤


  10. Dear Paula,
    thanks for your etymological reflections about the word “paradise”.
    Actually this word comes originally from the old Persian language and meant “walled garden” like in most of the other languages later as well. It were the Moors who were one of the first ones who wanted to create a real paradise and so they built the Alhambra. The Medici followed a similar idea in Florence and in a way Capability Brown and William Kent as well.
    If you see very old maps of the world you find quite often in the very east of Asia a walled area this was the paradise – at the end of the world.
    I like such posts of yours very much, they inspire me and I wish greedily more of this.
    With a big HUG from the sunny coast of Norfolk
    By the way there is a very bril historical novel about the history of the garden written by Eva Maaser, a German scholar of art history specialised in gardens. It`s called “Der Paradiesgarten” (the garden of paradise) – I don`t know if it is translated into English. It`s about 1000 pages of the history of gardens worthwhile reading.


    • Thank you for your generous input, Klausbernd. I am sure the book you are recommending is a well-worth read, but I have so many interests and reading pending 🙂


      • Oh, dear Paula, I know that very well, there is a manhattan-like pile of books in my living room waiting to be read.
        In one of my books about England I did write two longish paragraphs about the history of the idea of a paradise. Therefore I knew. I was always interested in the symbolism of the garden because I like gardening and, of course, the garden is very important in the English culture.
        All the best
        Klausbernd 🙂


    • … and thank you for supplementing my etymology of the word garden with yours of the word paradise. Much appreciated.


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    • You have no idea how lucky you are, Opalla.. for me hairdressers are closer to hell than Eden :D. I liked your story… there is hope 😉 I am grateful for your lovely entry.


  12. I’m struggling fitting everything in today, but I came to admire. I should shout up for formal gardens in view of my husband’s profession, but I like moorland and mountain landscapes best, though I always admire a pretty garden. Not keen on woodlands- too enclosed for me 🙂
    Loving your non-challenging posts. 🙂


  13. To be honest I love the wildness of the forest. The gardens at Versailles, for example, I found to be too controlled and symmetrical. I enjoy the riot of colour, scents and plants in an untamed garden that borders on what you find in a natural environment.


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