Although we have no idea how the Egyptians or the Mesopotamians decorated their gardens, we do know that in 3200 BC images of dogs and cats were being chiseled onto monuments in the Nile Valley, and that in 1600 BC the Hittites carved the giant Lion of Babylon. During Greece’s Hellenistic period, in the 4th century BC, animals became acceptable subjects for sculptors, and ever since gardens have been graced by likenesses of non-human creatures.
Animal imagery is weighted with symbolism: each species carries layers of meaning, which, in turn, can reflect or affect the character of the garden-owner.
The good influence of a fox encourages clever thinking and nimble action at the seaside gardens of Glendurgan. Courtesy of nanquick.com
Herons are totems of balance and self-reliance. This one decorates one of the many gardens at Houghton Hall.
Dogs are emblems of loyalty. In Harold Peto’s garden, at Iford Manor in Wiltshire, a veritable menagerie is on display.
Courtesy of nanquick.com