Today is the birthday of the English philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon.
Francis wrote a splendid essay called “Of Gardens.”
The essay contains many quotable thoughts on gardening - although the opening line is the most quoted.
“God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man; without which, buildings and palaces are but gross handiworks; and a man shall ever see, that when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men come to build stately sooner than to garden finely; as if gardening were the greater perfection. I do hold it, in the royal ordering of gardens, there ought to be gardens, for all the months in the year, in which several things of beauty may be then in season.”
In 1606, Francis introduced “Garden Walks” as a concept at Gray's Inn field. Bacon lived at Gray’s Inn, and during that time, the Inns were putting gates and fencing around their land to provide greater privacy and security.
It was in the gated field at Gray’s Inn where Bacon created his walk. People were enthralled with the idea. Along the walk, Bacon added flowers and trees like Violets and Primroses, Cherry Trees, and Birch. This whole notion of strolling through a pleasure garden was the 16th century equivalent of the modern-day habit of walking in a shopping mall for exercise.
In 1594, Francis Bacon said a learned man needs a garden, library, laboratory -- and a "goodly, huge cabinet" (of curiosities).
And, Bacon said,
"As is the garden - such is the gardener. A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds."