after years of waiting, the syrian cultural garden begins to bloom


For decades it was merely a dream, but soon, the Syrian Cultural Garden becomes a reality. Part of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens that wend along Rockefeller Park, the Syrian Garden is in progress on Martin Luther King Boulevard across from the Indian Garden. Upon completion, it will be the first of the Cultural Gardens representing an Arab country.

About 80 years ago, Cleveland's Syrian community received a garden site on which to commemorate its culture and heritage. Plagued by lack of funding followed by waning interest, the plot of land sat undeveloped for many years. But around 2007, the notion of a Syrian Cultural Garden began to once again take shape, with members of Cleveland's Syrian community becoming involved in design and fundraising efforts.

Sponsored by the Syrian Cultural Gardens Association, in collaboration with the Syrian American Cultural Council, the garden will have at its focus a series of classically inspired arches designed by University of Damascus architecture students Raghda Helal and Nagham Nano. The Arches of Palmyra, the Amphitheater of Basra, the Syrian Arch and the Arabic Fountain all served as inspiration. The history of Syria will be displayed on several granite stones along the amphitheater, according to Layla George-Khouri, one of the founders of the garden committee. Damascene roses will surround the architectural feature.

"It's going to be beautiful," says Khouri, adding that the goal is to unveil the finished garden to the public in April of 2011.

The Cleveland Cultural Gardens date back to 1926, when the Shakespeare Garden (which later became known as the British Garden) was dedicated to honor the Bard. Through the years, many other ethnic groups have planted flowers and built monuments as a tribute to the land of their ancestors. Check out this link for detailed information about all of the gardens, as well as a map.

SOURCE: Layla George-Khouri
WRITER: Diane DiPiero