Roman Columns


Chester, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

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There’s a lot to be learned from our Roman garden which was specially created as part of the Millennium celebrations here at the zoo.

As Chester is a city which thrived in the Roman era, we thought it a great idea to show off plants which would have been grown in Roman times.

We decided to re-create a garden which would demonstrate the style of architecture and the range of plants our Roman ancestors used.

We were greatly helped by Ms Linda Farrer a Roman gardens specialist. She advised us on the historical accuracy of our garden.

Archaeological evidence gathered from digs around the UK has revealed Romans grew a range a native British plants, as well as importing species from the Mediterranean.

Their garden designs were fairly formal and they were fond of using architectural focal points. Trees were usually planted in straight lines, just like those famous Roman columns! Plant beds would mostly be all the same shape and size.

They also liked seats and alcoves, fountains, small cascades, tiled pathways, statues, urns and pitchers. You’ll see we’ve tried to include some of these in our Roman Garden.

It is divided into three main areas. First is a medicinal garden, which Romans would often build in a courtyard within a hospital and plant up with species they could use in the treatment of patients.

Then there’s an ornamental area. Romans would normally grow these near their officers’ quarters or by public baths. They would include plants linked with peace and tranquility and there would usually be a water feature, such as a fountain or pool.

Soothing plants like lavender or rosemary would be in beds edged by clipped hedges, while pergolas would be decorated with trailing plants like wild roses, vines, hops and ivy.

The third main garden type was the Rusticus or domestic garden, used to grow herbs, fruits, food crops and other useful household plants like flax and woad. These gardens usually had a beehive in them too.

We hope you enjoy our Roman Garden and it gives you an idea of how gardens in and around Chester may have looked many centuries ago.

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Artwork Comments

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