The Circassian gardens - forest gardens


The Circassian gardens (forest gardens) are groups of fruit trees and shrubs scattered in the forests of the foothill and coastal areas of the North-Western Caucasus. These gardens are the remnants of the former mountain gardening culture of the Circassians (Adyghes) of the past centuries.

Fruit trees have long been grown on the territory of present-day the Republic of Adygea. The well-groomedness of the local gardens is described in their letters dated from the 18th-19th centuries by European travelers. They noted the variety of fruits.

The Circassians had a tradition of grafting trees in the forest with cuttings of fruit trees. A man, setting out on a journey, took with him cuttings of his favorite varieties of apple and pear trees, which he planted on wild trees along the way. This method of cultivation of fruit trees is considered the most ancient. The Circassians' knowledge of the technology of selection of fruit and berry crops contributed to the fact that part of the ownerless Circassian orchards did not dry up and bear fruit to this day.

In Adygea, Karachay-Circassia and other places in the North Caucasus, fruit plantations continue to bloom. Representatives of the ancient Adyghe multi-ethnos planted their gardens not only in open space, but also turned the nearby mountain forests year after year into the so-called "forest gardens".

The Circassians-Shapsugs, for example, had a custom, according to which every inhabitant of the village had to visit the forest in the spring and graft at least one cutting from his garden to a wild tree.

These and many other features of the traditional North Caucasian selection are described in detail by the historian Samir Khotko in his two-volume textbook "Old Circassian Gardens"[1].

In the mythological picture of the world of the Circassians, a tree occupied a key place. The entire material structure of the manifested universe - from the elements of the human body to the structural components of the planet - is personified in Caucasian mythology by the "tree of life".