At the beginning of the 1990s Dieter Kienast mentioned another aspect that underlines the significance of the garden and garden thinking in our lives today: The garden is the last luxury we have today, as it demands those things that have become the most rare and precious in our society (i.e. time, attention and space). “It is a true reflection of nature in which, once again, we require spirit, knowledge and craftsmanship in the careful handling of the world and its microcosm, the garden. Changing social values are causing a garden renaissance.” In light of current tendencies, referred to collectively as “urban gardening”, it actually is possible to speak of a garden renaissance. If vegetable gardens in large cities were considered to be an anachronism or a sign of dislike for cities a few years ago, today they are thought of as being expressions of a progressive environmental consciousness, even if this isn’t really true in all cases. As varied as the reasons for gardening in cities may be, from a desire to be self-sufficient to a way of resisting planning paternalism, or as an expression of a wish for intercultural communication, one thing is the same for everyone: ”ln the garden we learn how to deal with nature without having to deny the creative power within us. And thus, it becomes a model and a test case with regard to how we deal with the entire natural and built environment”.
In The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods, Vincent Scully explains the symbolic relations between sacred classic Greek architecture and the natural setting:
Not only were certain landscapes indeed regarded by the Greeks as holy and as expressive of specific gods, or rather as embodiments of their presence, but also that the temples and the subsidiary buildings of their sanctuaries were so formed in themselves and so placed in relation to the landscape and to each other as to enhance, develop, complement, and sometimes even to contradict, the basic meaning that was felt in the land.
The symbolic significance of each religious sanctuary differed from place to place, according to the specific relations between the attributes of each god and the symbolic aspects of the topography. Thus the relations between landscape and architecture were fully reciprocal in both meaning and form: the gods existed as determinate, localized entities, and the site-specihc articulation of nature and artifice were central to the theological experience. But these relations obtained in the classic Greek era, before the retreat of the gods, before the final, ironic, ontotheological, neoclassic dissimulation of God. In the classic epoch, the gods were everywhere manifested in a profoundly symbolic landscape. In the neoclassic epoch, as Pascal recounts, God surpasses the very limits of the imagination, as well as the topography of the surrounding world, resulting in the total disproportion of man. For Pascal, the visible world is but a speck within a nature that is “an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. The ubiquity of infinity, the omnipresence of God in geometric symbolization, renders all theological personification and all symbolic landscapes obsolete. Allen S. Weiss, Unnatural Horizons. Paradox and Contradiction in Landscape Architecture (1998)