Trees and Shrubbery

Trees and Shrubbery

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Excerpt from Trees and Shrubbery: Adapted to the Soil and Climate of Nashville, in Relation to Yards, Streets and Public Parks

It is a remarkable and astonishing fact, that men, living in the midst of primeval forests, constituted of the most magnificent trees in the world, had to go on a pilgrimage to the other side of the globe, to the shrines of Buddha and the South-sea Islands, to obtain a pair of trees of no peculiar merits for ornamental planting.

However, we ought to look even upon such errors with a degree of reverence as the first attempts in a prudent and beneficial enterprise. Civilization and culture of plants have been wedded together in all ages of which we possess historical records, and laws and religious ceremonies relative to the culture of cereals and fruit-bearing trees were recognized by the most ancient nations of both continents. A sacred law prohibited the adorers of Osiris to damage fruit trees, and the first commandment in the Zend-Avesta says: "Thou shalt cultivate the field, and plant fruit-bearing trees." The acknowledgment of the great blessings conferred upon man by the arborescent vegetation in support of life and aid in the simple industries, led primarily to the veneration and worship of trees, and this sentiment of reverence advises us to find in it the root and origin of the early rising of a profound sense of the love of nature amongst the Semitic, Indie and Iranic nations. Wherever the mind had matured so as to be able to conceive the beautiful in the aspect of nature and to create the desire to enjoy this pleasure in the fullest measure, there was originated the first artificial plantations. Diodorus describes the gardens laid out by Semiramis at the foot of the mountain Bagistanos. Rows of cypresses, whose obelisk-like form recalls to the mind the shape of flames, stood around the sanctuary of the temple of Zoroaster, and the residences of the Persian kings were surrounded by extensive artificial plantations of great beauty. These ancient Asiatic gardens, "Paradeisoi" of the Greek authors, derive their name from the old Persian "Pardes," and this again descends from the Sanscrit "Paradesa," which means an environ.

I take occasion to make some historical remarks to guard against the acceptance of that hollow phrase, "Modern Civilization," as the originator and distributor of every art and knowledge, thought to elevate and beautify human life.

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