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The ‘Orders,’ Paradise Gardens, and Other Concepts


Egyptian Orders (columns)

Plant inspired stone columns were the most widely used source of support in ancient Egypt for the construction of monumental architecture. Real plant bundles as support for structure goes back some time. There are at least 5 primary types of Egyptian columns.

1. The Palm column – The palm mythically represents the seat of the sun god.

2. Papyrus – bundle column – represents the primeval landscape of the Nile Valley, “a papyrus thicket” in which god walked. The closed buds may symbolize night.

3. Lotus column – Stylized representation of 6 lotus stalks tied together below the flowers. The lotus is related to the sun god.

4. “Tent pole” column – copy of the poles that supported the canopy over the royal throne.

5. Papyrus column with open bud – again the mythological relationship to the primeval landscape of the Nile Valley.


Greek Orders (columns)

The Greeks learned the technique of building with posts and lintels, or stone columns and entablatures, from Egypt. The principal orders of Greek building are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

The Doric is the simplest, in form, of the three orders and probably evolved from elements of wood construction or carpentry, as a source determining the form and shape. Doric temples date from as far back as 650 BC.

The ionic order originated in the Greek cities on the coast of Asia Minor, and is characterized by the curling members, or volutes. Volutes resemble a spiral scroll. The ionic order also has structural significance beyond that of the Doric order. The ionic order spreads out the surface area available for the entablature to rest on. Ionic capitals date from before 500 BC.

The Corinthian order has a great deal of carved decoration, and originated in Athens before 400 BC. Corinthian capitals were decorated with curling tendrils and acanthus leaves on all four sides, making them less awkward than the ionic capitals. Ionic capitals have two different visual effects, one looking at the front of the scroll, the other looking at the side, Corinthian capitals look the same from either side.

Paradise Gardens


Middle Ages-476 to (about) the renaissance

The term Paradise Gardens primarily refers to those of the middle ages. Gardens of the middle ages were primarily walled and inwardly oriented as a response to the danger present in the open landscape.

The word paradise originates with the word ‘paradaeza’ – meaning an enclosure, as applied to an enclosed hunting park of Persian kings, developing to ‘pardes’ meaning garden or park enclosure, and ‘paradeisos’ meaning kingly or sumptuous and extravagant park, the term is extended to include the original garden of Eden or the ‘celestial paradise’.

Feng Shui

Practiced in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and parts of China

Before 200 BC

The primary concept of Feng Shui is that the topography expresses streams or currents that run through the earth, the currents are referred to as ‘vital spirit’ or ‘cosmic breath’. The currents influence a families fortunes or misfortunes based on the placement of their houses and graves in relation to the winds (Feng), waters (Shui), hills (kan), and valleys (yu).


Two main types of practice still exist:

1. The first has its basis in the physical features of a place – the hills, rocks or trees.

2. The second type is based on orientation using the geomantic compass.

Some common traits between the two types are:

Dwellings should face south, be two thirds of the way up a hill, and have lower hills as protection to the east and west.

Standing water should be present below the dwelling as a reservoir for generous influences.

Winding walls and roads following the topography of the land should be favored, which would discourage evil influences that were thought to travel in straight lines.

Feng Shui has also influenced garden design. A sites surroundings, the balance of yin and yang forces, and the flow of water determined the locations. The four cardinal directions are symbolically represented in relation to the house.

The blue dragon symbolizes spring, or the east.

The white tiger symbolizes fall, or the west.

The crimson bird symbolizes summer, or the south.

The black turtle symbolizes winter, or the north.

The western, or blue dragon is the most dangerous orientation for a garden. A garden should be surrounded by a wall to preserve peace. Old trees are preserved and water should be present in the garden as a symbol of wealth.

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