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The Roman Garden

The plan of a Roman garden was dictated by the topography, the garden’s effect on the surrounding buildings, and the availability of water. And, of course, a large and lush garden gave prestige and comfort to the master. In the shady environment of his house, he could relax or have guests, while slaves did the hard work of cultivating the soil and taking care of the plants.

Aside from the private gardens, the Romans built public gardens as well. Miriam and her aunt would enjoy strolling through the public gardens in the Greek quarter. Those parks were extensive with pavilions, statues, and pools. Some even had their own zoo. Rare plants from the edges of the Empire spoke of its immensity and power.

Miriam describes one such stroll with her aunt in The Deadliest Lie:

Continuing westward along the shore, we reached our favorite stone bench in the gardens along the base of Point Lochias, the promontory of royal land that belonged to the Ptolemies and where the Roman governor now lives….Casting their silhouettes are groves of cypress, olive, and pine trees populated by marble statues who look as if they too, like me, can hear the whisper of each fountain’s iridescent spray, breathe in the heady fragrance of the roses, and watch the swans glide on the silvered surface of each quiet pool.

Regardless of its size, the garden was the heart and center of the house. As we enjoy the warm weather, don’t forget to consider a garden or park as a great place to read a Miriam bat Isaac mystery or her latest short story. Just click here to pick one.


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