The Abraham Cowley
Text and Image Archive

Gardening in a Circle / The Gardener as Orpheus. From Giovanni Battista Ferrari, De florum cultura libri IV (Rome, 1633). Reproduced with permission from the Special Collections of the University of Virginia.
Translation of the Latin text accompanying this image:
If you wish to imitate the earths's beauteous roundness with a garden design in the round, or to found a new world for a Floral Age, here you have a round rudiment drawn in a area squared off and surrounded with a retaining wall, in whose four vacant corners you may raise cells for garden equipment and for birdpens befitting the flowers, so that your flowery wood will not lack sylvan Orpheuses. But be sure that the surrounding structure does not unduly shade the flowerbeds, whether from being built too high or from being built too close; it should be raised with caution, and set apart with a fairly broad walk.
Another, more resonant description of the gardener as a spellbinding Orpheus, largely building on Horace's Ars poetica 391-401 on the orator-poet as a founder of civilized culture, greeted England's Queen Elizabeth I in her progress of 1577:
Over a gate leading into the Orchard, which had a garden on one side and a wilderness on the other, under a statue of Orpheus stood these verses:
    Of yore how frightful did this place appear,
    Here howl'd wild beasts, and satyrs frolick'd here,
    When luckily for me this Orpheus came,
    Whose heav'nly art has smooth'd my rugged frame,
    And rais'd a shade that deities might please.
    Labours like his my Orpheus here employ,
    Oh may we both each other long enjoy!
 (John Nichols, The Progresses ... of Queen Elizabeth ..., 3 vols. (London, 1823), 2.59, cited by Brumble, 251)
A German architectural writer of the seventeenth century also notes an Italian garden sculptural program which incorporates a satyr-taming Orpheus (Joseph Furttenbach, Architectura Civilis [Augsburg, 1628; repr. Hildesheim, 1971], 37, pl. 17).
Related Links:
Orpheus Playing the Lyre / Garden Microcosm / Four Seasons' Fecundity / Art, Nature, and Wonder
Return to Ferrari / Return to Botanica