The Garden of Hesperides http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesperides is a mythical place from Greek legend, inhabited by nymphs and apple trees. It’s supposed location varies, although I did find one reference that placed it as possibly being in Spain. The Garden of Hesperides is one of those Utopian places, full of beauty and delight. The magical apples are akin to the apples treasured by the Norse Gods, and featured in Eden. Youth, beauty and good health are the gift of apples, as well as whatever intellectual insight they may bring.
Some years ago, I was invited to contribute to a series about nymphs, and sent off to Wikipedia to pick my nymph from a list. I picked the Daughters of Evening associated with this garden. Having recently seen ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and having been profoundly affected by Laurie Lee’s ‘A moment of war’ – also set in the Spansh civil war, I took that as my setting and placed the garden there, only lost, in hiding, and waiting to be reborn.
Pagan perceptions of the land as Goddess also influenced me. I’m a polytheist, I don’t do the one god, one goddess notion. For me, there are many gods, some of them very localised, and the differences between spirits and deities isn’t all that important. With this in mind, I placed the garden, initially, on the body of a woman. The story features a lot of sex magic, as the garden is revived with fresh seed.
Days passed and Colum began to feel he might be out of danger. They never seemed short of food, and Erythria’s enthusiasm for his body continued. By the third day, he could clearly see the many tiny images on her skin. She had him start work on her back, and there the images were very different. Scales and talons began to show, as the single picture of a huge, monstrous creature came to life, running from shoulder blades to buttocks. Her skin became firmer and finer with every encounter. It unnerved him, but increased his desire for her. Whenever he asked about her body and the images manifesting on it, she evaded his questions. Most of the time he tried to ignore what was happening, focusing instead on the practical issues. Where would they sleep? Where would the next meal come from? Were they safe?
It’s a wholly different notion of gardens from the kind we might make at home – magical, dangerous, and beyond human experience.