Since I’ve been thinking about walking in gardens, I inevitably thought about walking in parks, which inevitably meant I returned to Travis Elborough’s book A Walk in the Park – now out in paperback - and I find this passage:
“There are few sights in England that can quite equal the absurd charm of the imitation Khyber Pass in Hull’s East Park. This slice of South Asia in the East Riding sits just a short stroll away from an animal house that is home to alpacas from Peru and a lake where oversized swan pedalo boats bob about. The park was planned and opened to honour Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 and the pass was dreamed up by its supervisor Edward Peak and fashioned in artificial rock and material foraged from the Hull Citadel, an old fort that had once defended the town’s port.”
Now it so happens that I know a couple of people with Hull connections and they were familiar with East Park, and had even been walking there, but perhaps inevitably they’d never heard of this Khyber Pass replica, despite the presence in the park of this informative sign:
I think you’d have to say that as replicas go it’s not the most faithful recreation you’ve ever seen, especially since it involved the copy of an Arab doorway from Zanzibar, which doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do with the Khyber Pass.
The actual Khyber Pass looked like this back then,
And it looks like this now:
And I began to wonder how easy it would be to walk through dislocated or simulated geographical features of the world. The boundary wall of Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester has been in the news lately - a Brutalist bit of concrete that locals refer to as the Berlin Wall. It doesn’t look so bad to me but it’s apparently “much hated” by locals, and the news is that there are now plans to demolish it.
There used to be the Garden of Allah here in Los Angeles, though not a garden at all, but a hotel on Sunset Boulevard run by one Alla Nazimova (real name Adelaida Yakovlevna Leventon), and occasional home to the likes of Errol Flynn, Dorothy Parker, Scott Fitzgerald et al. It was demolished in 1959, but a replica has been being built at Universal Studios, Florida, and is used as a media center.
There is also the Garden of Gethsemane in Tucson, which contains sculptures of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion which (unless my biblical knowledge is even sketchier than I think it is) did not take place in said garden.
The “real” Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem (its original location is disputed, so this may itself be a replica) looks like this:
There’s also London Bridge in Havasu City, Arizona, which Mr. Elborough has written about at length, but that’s a transplant of the thing itself, not a replica. The Shoreline walking trail will take you right under it, through Rotary Park.
So I emailed young Elborough and asked him if he thought there was any meaningful distinction to be drawn between what constitutes a park and what constitutes a garden. He offered this, “I think more generally public gardens tended be bequests of existing private gardens - though not always - and usually smaller and horticultural, lacking sports fields etc. but god knows!” That’s good enough for me, for now.