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.
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. It's also an ideal place to pick up and give Flowers of Romance to their loved ones. Depending on the type of flower or romance, this can lead to Queer Flowers.
Contrast Garden of Evil.
- In Snow White with the Red Hair, 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.
- In Cinderella, the Prince and Cinderella end up dancing by themselves in the castle garden during the ball (the Duke intentionally gives them privacy in the hopes the Prince will propose) and they eventually kiss, though Cinderella then realizes it's midnight and has to rush off before her Fairy Godmother's spell breaks.
- In the live-action remake of Cinderella (2015), Prince Kit brings Cinderella to a secret garden in the palace that he's never shown anyone else and they have a romantic moment.
- 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.
- In Ophelia, Hamlet and Ophelia have a slightly awkward yet sweet moment in the castle garden early in their courtship, during which Hamlet takes a ribbon from her hair as a token.
- 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.
- In Noughts & Crosses Sephy and Callum often meet in the rose garden near her house. They are forbidden from seeing each other and the garden is the place where they meet in secret.
- 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."
- Emma: Emma and Mr Knightley declare their feelings to each other in the Hartfield shrubbery. The following day, they "steal" half an hour to go over the same ground, literally and figuratively, to enjoy some time alone as a new couple. They tell others about their love and intention to get married after some time.
- In "Rappaccini's Daughter", this overlaps with the Garden of Evil: Giovanni and the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter Beatrice 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 gets 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.
- Amaranthine Saga: Amarathine Fox Clan custom dictates that a male should bring his mate back to a den he has built for her, but due to his centuries-long enslavement, Argent has virtually nothing of material worth to bring to his marriage to Tsumiko, who already owns the house they will live in, so their honeymoon takes place in the conservatory that Argent has made his secret sanctuary over the years. Tsumiko is initially dismayed by the idea but chooses to not protest, knowing that Argent has already compromised many of his own cultural expectations for her.
- In the Captive Prince short story "The Summer Palace", set after the main trilogy, Damen and Laurent finally have the free time to visit Damen's summer palace, an oceanside estate that's open to its many gardens and outdoor baths. They have a tender tryst outside and start to come to terms with the pain they'd caused each other when they were enemies.
Laurent: The night you told me about this place, it was the first time that I ever thought about the future. I thought about coming here. I thought about... being with you. It meant something to me that you suggested it.
- In the first Evernight book, Bianca and Lucas have their first kiss in a gazebo on the grounds of Evernight Academy, which is also Bianca first ever kiss. The romantic moment is ruined when Bianca loses control of her vampire nature and bites Lucas, causing him to be knocked unconscious, though it still results in a Relationship Upgrade. Later in Stargazer, the two meet and reconcile at the same gazebo after they temporarily broke up.
- 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.
- The White Queen: Anne Neville and Richard of Gloucester secretly meet twice in a garden at night while they try to figure out how to free her from George of Clarence's guardianship. The Puppy Love that they once felt for each other during their youths gradually blossoms into true love during these furtive encounters. It culminates in a marriage proposal, a Love Confession, and their First Kiss.
- A set of Mesopotamian love lyrics celebrates the relationship between the god Nabu and his divine consort Tametu, 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.
- 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.
- In Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein), Cinderella and Prince Christopher spend time in the castle's garden getting to know each other. It's also where they share a kiss.
- Implied in Furi. To try and prevent The Stranger from escaping the prison, The Song offers to let him live with her in her beautiful garden. If you remain there for a few minutes, The Stranger will opt to stay with her. She puts a hand on his thigh, promising to take care of him and be his, though her background information provided by The Voice calls her authenticity into question.
- Bloodbound: Kamilah and Amy visit Marcel Lafayette's nocturnal garden, where they talk about love and end up cuddling.
- Around the World with Willy Fog: Princess Romy and Mr Fog have a lovely outing to a park in Singapore. The place is in full bloom. Mr Fog picks up a flower for her, which she loves and starts dancing with it, and then she picks a flower for him and puts it on the lapel of his suit. Definite Ship Tease.