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"Ottoman Garden" in the US
Turkish Daily News

The Ottoman Garden in St. Louis in the United States, which opened in 2006, was rededicated Saturday at a ceremony. The garden has a profusion of flowers including classic Turkish tulips and drifts of bulbs, exotic citrus, aromatic herbs, pomegranate and various perennials within a private courtyard embellished with Middle Eastern architectural elements

The revamped "Bakewell Ottoman Garden" opened Saturday in the Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the world's leading botanical gardens, in St. Louis in the United States.

The Ottoman Garden, which is the first of its kind in the United States and reflects traditional Turkish garden architectural style, had opened for the first time in August 2006. The garden was rededicated during a ceremony Saturday with enhanced features and new flora. The Turkish Consul General to Chicago Kenan İpek was present at the opening ceremony, held with the support of the Turkish Culture Foundation based in the United States. Professor Nurhan Atasoy, who is a consultant for the Ottoman Garden project, made a presentation on "The effect of Turkish garden culture on the western world."

The garden provides a feast for the senses, with various fountains and architectural elements to provide a strong sense of authenticity. Seasonal oleanders lining the walkway lead to the central focal point, a shallow pool of water. Authentic flora includes citrus, fragrant roses, classic Turkish tulips and drifts of other bulbs and perennials, aromatic herbs, pomegranate, and lilac. An inscription in Ottoman script, gold on blue, above the arched doorway at the south entrance honors the garden's benefactor, the late Edward L. Bakewell.

According to the Turkish Culture Foundation, the Bakewell family had relations with Mahmut II's mother, Naksidil Valide Sultan, a woman of French origins. The brothers Ted and Anderson Bakewell wanted to realize the will of their father Edward L. Bakewell to establish an Ottoman garden in the United States, and opened it in the Missouri Botanical Garden. Turkish architect Fazıl Sütçü, who resides in St. Louis, also contributed to the efforts of the Bakewell bothers.

'One of the largest in the United States'

For the Ottoman Garden, horticulturalists supervised the planting of nearly 9,000 bulbs including historic hybrid tulips, with varieties dating from the 1500s through the mid-1900s. "It is one of the largest public displays of such rare tulips in the United States," said Jason Delaney, a horticulturist at the botanical garden.

Although tulips and other flowers had been known throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, many varieties were first introduced to Europe through contact with the Ottoman Empire.

The Missouri Botanical Garden's display focuses on authentic "Rembrandt" tulips, which are infected with potyvirus. "The virus causes color breaks in the petals, creating a feathered and streaked appearance to the blooms," Delaney said. "As their popularity spread westward, the Dutch turned the Ottoman appreciation into a crazed obsession, buying and trading single bulbs for entire family fortunes during a period known as 'Tulipomania' in the 17th century," he added.

"It was not until the 1930s that this color-breaking and mutation was identified as a virus, and within the next few decades, the commercial cultivation of these types ceased. Look-alike Rembrandt tulips have been created through extensive hybridization and are now available to the home gardener in many different colors and styles," Delaney continued.

Sights and smells of Ottoman times recreated

Designers of the Missouri Botanical Garden have tried to recreate sights and smells common to the people and officials of the historic Ottoman Empire. While gardens in Islamic lands differ in layout, most share the purpose of resembling the Koran's description of the Gardens of Paradise, with flowing water and abundant flora. The religious-based gardens seek to establish an atmosphere of peace and oneness with nature, enhanced by the rich, colorful sights and the pervasive fragrance of blossoms and herbs. Scent is a strong component of the garden.