Friday Fun: Romanian Gardens

Romanians are very fond of their gardens but they’ve always had to combine their love of beauty with practicality. The climate ranges from very dry and hot in summer to very cold and snowy in winter, with everything in-between. Growing your own vegetables was never a trendy hobby but a necessity, and much of the land around your house (if you were lucky enough to own any) had to be given over to keeping hens, turkeys, pigs, cows or whatever livestock you could muster, to make up for the lack of food in the shops during Communist times. The younger generation now live mostly in the urban areas and have at best a balcony or terrace in which to unwind (or a park). Wealthier people, who have holiday homes in picturesque settings, are not there all the year round to look after their gardens properly, or are keen to copy Western models.

So, while they might not look as pretty and dreamy as the English country house or cottage gardens, these are hardworking gardens which deserve our admiration. And I can assure you quite a few are suitable for reading (tried and tested in my childhood).

Messy and busy, just like my grandmother’s garden, from the Botanical Garden in Bucharest.
Usually the flowers were in the immediate vicinity of the house, while the orchard and vegetable patch was behind. From
Flowers and vegetables alternate in rows in front of these traditionally painted houses from the Dobrogea region near the Black Sea coast. From Pinterest.
Some of the most beautiful flower gardens are at the nunneries, as here at Varatec. From
Agapia Monastery also boasts a magnificent display of flowers in its courtyard. Photo credit. Stefan Cojocariu.
If you only have a balcony in the city, this will have to do. From
But I prefer this porch, just like at my grandmother’s house. My cousins and I would sleep on little mattresses outside on really hot summer nights. From Pinterest.
Several of my relatives had dining tables under these vine-laden pergolas in the garden (with food coming out in a steady stream from the outdoor ‘summer’ kitchen). I think I read most of Dumas in places like these.

20 thoughts on “Friday Fun: Romanian Gardens”

  1. I love your photos. Traditional English cottage gardens also had vegetables growing alongside flowers and that is a good mix as flowers can attract insects that will eat the greenfly on the cabbages!

    1. Yes, I would imagine most gardens would have been like that in the past – and still are on farms. And now, of course, it’s become quite trendy to grow a few vegetables as well…

  2. These are gorgeous Marina Sofia! I feel quite inspired by the balcony one – I’d not thought of putting such large plants on mine. I might go plant shopping this weekend 🙂

  3. Really enjoyed your insight on the different attitudes to gardens.
    Loved the vine pergola and can now picture you curled up with your book oblivious to everything else around

  4. What lovely gardens, Marina Sofia, and such an interesting look at the Romanian way of creating that beauty. I like the ingenuity, and it is a tonic to look at, too. That porch looks absolutely ideal for outdoor sleeping, reading, and just enjoying the flowers.

    1. I know that English, French and Japanese gardens are famous, but these are the higgledy-piggledy everyday gardens I grew up with. There was a bit of a competition going on, however, between neighbours about who had the best flowers in the front garden…

    1. The first one as well looks like my paternal grandmother’s garden, which was behind the summer kitchen (perfect for picking vegetables and herbs for cooking) and on the way to the orchard. I was very lucky to spend my holidays there, even though I didn’t think so at the time!

    1. Thank you. Sadly, neither of my grandmothers’ gardens look anything like that now. They’ve been all but abandoned, since no one lives there…

    1. If my relatives ever came and visited me in England and saw the state of my garden!!! They always told me it is so easy to grow things in England, it’s not too cold or too hot or too dry (by and large).

  5. I have balcony envy! And love the idea of sleeping on the porch, we could do with that now here (it’s too hot to sleep at all…) Thanks for sharing the photos and the memories!

  6. I’ve been to Romania several times but I always seemed to have been there out of season to see these types of gardens. I know that during the Communist era, while people in the country had gardens to keep themselves alive, they also had to do it mostly in secret because whenever they wanted, the government could come by and take their harvests from them and then make them pay to get back the food they’ve grown themselves (usually at very high prices)! Horrible. So glad they can now grow and eat their own handiwork. By the way, that’s partly how they started doing the line of flowers and then line of veg – they did it in hopes that the officials would think it was ALL just flowers.

    1. Not really the case with the personal gardens just around the house. Nobody would come to requisition your five turnips and three beetroots or whatever (at least not from the 1960s onwards). But most of the land had been taken forcibly into ‘cooperatives’, so there wasn’t much room to grow anything, hence the higgledy-piggledy nature of things.

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