If you’ve been taking a look at the lists in this website, especially at the pictures, you’ll notice that a lot of castles have well-cultivated, beautiful gardens within the castle grounds. This is worth noting, since gardens are really valuable. One can immediately recognize their aesthetic value, of course – gardens are always important parts of the landscape. The angular harshness of a locale that is made up mostly of steel and concrete can be offset by a good garden. Homes themselves benefit in having gardens, whether it is a vegetable garden or a flower garden. Gardens are versatile, and very functional, and if you’re particularly good, you’ll be able to cultivate a good crop within your own home garden.
But why are we talking about gardens all of a sudden? We’ve already mentioned how gardens are valuable, but it’s worth taking things to a whole new level, by looking at garden cities.
What are garden cities? Wikipedia says:
The garden city movement is a method of urban planning that was initiated in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the United Kingdom. Garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained communities surrounded by “greenbelts“, containing proportionate areas, of residences, industry and agriculture.
Ebenezer Howard’s 3 Magnets Diagram for Garden Cities. Photo from Wikipedia.
Which is pretty wonderful, since ideally, three areas – the residential, the industrial, and the agricultural – will be able to coexist without one element of the city overpowering another, thus making putting the city in a sustained, balanced state. According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, Ebenezer Howard’s features for the garden city scheme are as follows:
- The purchase of agricultural land.
- Planning of a compact town surrounded by a wide rural area.
- Accommodation of residents, industry, and agriculture within the town.
- Limiting the extent of the town, and prevention of encroachment.
- Town benefits from the rise in land values.
Several garden cities have already been conceptualized, based on Howard’s scheme. Cities like Letchworth (the original garden city, realized by Howard himself) and Welwyn Garden City (another Howard-founded garden city) still exist today.
Garden city-inspired space in Mexico City. Photo from Wikipedia.
First Garden City Heritage Museum in Letchworth. Photo from Wikipedia.
The Coronation Fountain, Welwyn Garden City. Photo from Wikipedia.
What does this all mean for us?
Well, for one, it means that such balanced towns and cities can be realized. In an age where a lot of landscapes are becoming increasingly urban, and the centers of everything, from business to education, are located in the metropolis, it’s pretty hard to find a balance between modernity and nature. Cities have green areas, sure, but a lot of these exist for aesthetic purposes only. Parks are for visitors. Trees planted along roadside try to ease the steel-and-concrete landscape a bit, but they don’t actually do much. Garden cities can provide solutions to a lot of problems that we are already facing – sustainable living, for example.
For another, garden cities can be effective places for writing retreats. The balance between agriculture, industry, and residence, with a well-cultivated landscape, can give writers spaces in which they can enjoy writing in solitude, without exactly shutting off the entire world. The landscape can be beautiful as well as functional, and will not only be a place for writers, but also for people of other professions.
Garden cities are pretty cool places. Here’s an article on garden cities. These are spaces towards which we should all strive. A healthy space that can benefit individuals already sounds pretty appealing. Realizing these garden cities can provide coworking spaces and writing retreat spaces for everyone. The best part is we wouldn’t have to deal with all of the baggage of urban life. Which, admittedly, is getting a little too heavy.