Posted on September 4, 2013
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 giardino, jardin 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?
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