Islamic Garden Design
An Islamic garden—with its lush greens, highly scented flowers and flowing water—occupies a special place in the Islamic world. The notion that a garden is paradise on Earth dates to Babylonian times (pre-539 BC).
Fountain at the Court of the Lions, Alhambra Palace Gardens, Granada, Spain. CREDIT: Fernando Martín
Heavily scented flowers such as lilies, roses and lavender are a favourite in Islamic gardens.
Water channel and fountain at the Patio de la Acequia, Alhambra Palace Garden, Granada, Spain. CREDIT: Andrew Dunn
See our garden design with Persian influences for an Oakville client.
Key elements of Islamic garden design:
Favourite flowers – Heavily scented flowers like jasmine, hybrid lilies, violets and roses are favourites in an Islamic garden.
Geometric layout – The traditional shape for an Islamic garden is a rectangle, symbolizing symmetry and harmony.
Privacy – An Islamic garden is enclosed and secret. Privacy and seclusion are paramount in Islamic landscaping because it is a place for contemplation. Typically, a high wall surrounds an Islamic garden, or the garden is located in an interior courtyard of the house. Trees and shrubs soften the hard outline of garden landscaping.
Symbolism of the number 4 – The Quran describes the spiritual concept of a garden. The number 4 has a deep and spiritual meaning in Islamic garden design. The number 4 represents the order of the universe with its four directions (north, south, east, west), and the four elements (earth, air, fire, water). In addition, in Islam there are four rivers in paradise: water, milk, wine and honey.
Symbolism of the number 8 – Each of the 4 parts of an Islamic garden are further divided, so that each garden has 8 distinct areas. Octagon-shaped and 8-point-star shaped fountains and flower beds also have deep symbolic meaning. The number 8 in Islam is associated with paradise.
Trees – There is an iconography for trees in Islamic garden design. The cypress tree symbolizes the male; fruit trees such as orange, almond, and fig trees symbolize the female. Valuable shade is traditionally provided by plane trees.
Water – Water features such as fountains, waterfalls, and reflecting pools are critical to Islamic garden design. In fact, water is the heart of the Islamic garden. Water not only refreshes the spirit and cools the body, it and important symbol in landscaping. Water in Islamic garden design is a symbol of God’s mercy. There are many verses of the Quran where water and mercy are one. So, water is purifying, cleansing, merciful. A water feature is placed in the centre of an Islamic garden, with four paths radiating from it.
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