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Garden of Love

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The garden of love is green without limit
and yields many fruits other than sorrow or joy.
Love is beyond either condition:
without spring, without autumn, it is always fresh.
Rumi, Masnavi I
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From Hebrew scripture and Persian poetry to the English classics, gardens have been a timeless setting for romance to bloom and lovers to meet.

Historically, public gardens were a shared space. As a popular destination for social outings, relaxation, and the enjoyment of nature, they provided the perfect occasion for chance encounters between potential lovers. Likewise, private gardens were host to social gatherings where friends and distant acquaintances could reconnect and grow closer. As a communal space, gardens are a useful location for the cultivation of cross-gender relationships, where interactions between men and women were more limited and scrutinized than they are today.

Encircled by natural splendor and filled with the fragrance of flowers, a garden is an ideal setting for love to take root, grow, and blossom. One seeking beauty in nature might just find beauty in other places. Gardens often provide a degree of privacy, making them a perfect location for secret meetings or forbidden affairs. Secluded groves and hidden enclaves offer a refuge for lovers away from prying eyes of potential onlookers.

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The garden and its fruits also hold metaphorical significance. They can symbolize fertility, creation, desire, the blossoming of new life, and may hearken to an earthly paradise or a reflection of Eden. The garden may be used as an allegorical setting, usually representing love itself, the beloved, or (in religious and spiritual works) God's love for humanity.

Sometimes, the state of a garden is used to illuminate a character's inner nature. A well-tended garden indicates virtues such as diligence, devotion, and a love of beauty, qualities that can endear a potential lover to their beloved.

Contrast Garden of Evil.


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Examples:

Anime and Manga

  • In Akagami no Shirayukihime, Zen and Shirayuki have a number of late night and early morning impromptu romantic meetings in the beautiful garden connected to the wing of the castle Izana signed over to Zen and his personal retinue.

Film

  • In Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, Cinderella and Prince Christopher spend time in the castle's garden getting to know each other. In the 1997 version, it's also where they share a kiss.
  • Ella Enchanted: Char takes Ella to the castle's hall of mirrors in order to propose to her, just as his father had done to his mother. Although indoors, it's covered in plant life, making the room look like a garden. The moment is subverted, however: during the scene Ella struggles to not stab him as she was ordered to, and cannot agree to the proposal despite being in love with him.

Literature

  • Gardens are a stock motif in Persian literature, notably among poets such as Rumi, who employ the trope in both physical and spiritual contexts. Ottoman Turkish poets influenced by the Persian greats followed in their footsteps.
  • As seen in The Canterbury Tales, it was a common medieval trope:
    • In the Merchant's Tale, Januarie marries a much younger woman, May, and builds her a beautiful garden, where they do "things that were not done in bed". Later, May and her lover Damyan have sex in one of the garden's trees. This happens in the presence of Januarie himself, but because the old man is blind, he is initially unaware of their actions.
    • In the Knight's Tale, the eponymous pair of knights are imprisoned in a tower overlooking the palace garden, where they first spot Princess Emelye (Emily) picking flowers. They both fall for her instantly, and the Love Triangle resulting from this incident drives the rest of the narrative.
  • The Divine Comedy: Where else could Dante and Beatrice reunite after overcoming damnation and death to see each other, but the Garden of Eden? After all, Eden is the garden every poet, even the pagans, has dreamed of and called Paradise; only here could Dante reunite with the woman so lovely as to make Heaven jealous of Earth.
  • Les Misérables: Marius first sees Cosette when she is walking with Valjean at the Luxembourg Garden, and instantly falls for her beauty. Later, the two secretly meet in the garden at her house on Rue Plumet, where they eventually profess their love for one another.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Éowyn and Faramir first meet in the gardens of the Houses of Healing, where they recuperate after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and eventually fall in love with each other.
  • Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet recognizes Darcy as a worthy man while touring the grounds of Pemberley, discerning that the care he gives his garden is an indicator of his true character. When asked, she even cites her experience as the point she began to fall in love with him:
    It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.
  • In the short story "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, this overlaps with the Garden of Evil: Giovanni and the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter Beatrice when become infatuated with each other when they meet in her father's walled garden, and he frequently compares her beauty to that of the flowers. He's right: all of the plants are grown for their toxicity and she has been transformed into a Poisonous Person by being raised in the garden. It ends badly for both of them.
  • Subverted in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Valley of Fear". While investigating the victim's death, Watson finds the widow and the dead man's best friend laughing merrily in the garden. Their attitude makes him think they killed the husband to pursue an affair in peace, as neither looks particularly distraught by the death. They both know the husband is actually alive, as they helped disguise the would-be assassin's corpse as his own.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Rand and his eventual love interest Elayne meet when he falls off a wall and into her garden, moving her to bandage a cut he got on the way down. It becomes much more awkward for him when he realizes he's inadvertently trespassing in the royal palace grounds.
    • After much Belligerent Sexual Tension, Mat and Tuon consummate their relationship in the Ebou Dar palace garden. In the morning, he's quite embarrassed to realize that a full squad of her guards were keeping watch from a discreet distance.

Live-Action Television

  • Magnificent Century: Hatice and İbrahim secretly meet in the palace gardens, where they can speak openly to one another and continue their forbidden courtship. After they marry, the garden continues to serve as an important place of reunion and reconciliation in their relationship throughout the series.
  • Magnificent Century: Kösem:
    • Anastasia and Ahmed first meet when he finds her climbing the walls of a private garden terrace, attempting to escape; she loses her footing and falls on top of him. When he is close to death, he asks to be brought to place they met, where he dies in her arms.
    • Gevherhan and Silahtar affirm their love for one another in the imperial garden, the setting for many key moments in the development of their relationship.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: In the series finale, the Moze-Ned-Suzie Love Triangle is resolved when Ned and Moze meet up in the museum's garden and finally acknowledge their feelings for each other.

Mythology and Religion

  • A set of Mesopotamian love lyrics celebrates the relationship between the god Nabu and his divine consort Tašmetu, who playfully make love in a garden. Originating in Neo-Assyrian Nineveh, the composition makes the trope one of The Oldest Ones in the Book.
  • Song of Songs extensively employs garden imagery to describe the erotic love between the speaker and her beloved.

Theatre

  • Les Misérables: The "A Heart Full of Love" sequence, in which Marius and Cosette romance each other, is set in the garden of her house on Rue Plumet. In the song's second-act reprise, Valjean uses the trope a metaphor as he reflects upon his daughter's blossoming relationship.
    Love is the garden of the young...
  • In Romeo and Juliet, the iconic second encounter between Romeo and Juliet takes place in Capulet's garden, with Juliet speaking from the balcony.

Video Games

  • Implied in Furi. The Song will ask you to stay in her garden forever and try to prevent your escape. If you choose to stay with her, she will promise to take care of you and "be yours".

Visual Novel

  • Bloodbound: Kamilah and Amy visit Marcel Lafayette's nocturnal garden, where they talk about love and end up cuddling.
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