landscape architect Maria Kancheva
The house and its yard are an inseparable unity and an integral part of the Bulgarian home. This is a centuries-old traditional feature of Bulgarian houses. It gives the opportunity of the sheltered life inside to come out in the open air close to nature. When researching the modern times housing and construction and especially the gardens and yards, first we should look back to the Bulgarian Renaissance. It was then when the Bulgarian gardening traditions sprouted. The yards and gardens in Kotel, Jeravna, Koprivshtitsa, Bojentsi – preserved in their original form and style from the times of the Bulgarian Renaissance – have inspired many present day artists in the field of landscape architecture. That is why certain features of those yards can be spotted in nowadays open space designs. Another remarkable period of the house yard’s history is the one beginning with the Liberation from the Ottoman rule. The change that took place was the opening of the yard – iron-wrought fences were in fashion all over Bulgaria then. Magnificent houses were built in Varna, Rousse, Plovdiv and Burgas in those years when the yards were on display for the passers-by. The front gardens were decorated with wonderful green labyrinths of box-shrubs
and flower beds. Special garden-buildings constructed of lattice-work or wicker-work appeared – ideas borrowed from the western architectural traditions. Coziness gave way to a certain showiness.
Then came the 60s of the 20th century when the house garden was replaced by the anonymous patch of land surrounded by blocks of flats, which had no connection with the homes whatsoever, and worst of all did not motivate the people living close to it to take care of it. This is how our house garden has been abandoned and neglected. To be honest, a great number of wonderful landscaping designs for the newly-built housing complexes have been created recently; however, not many of them lasted in their initial beauty and shape for
a long time. The fast changes in the surroundings were underestimated and a lot was not foreseen. A genuine interest in the house yard has surfaced back during the last 15 years. The numerous examples for this, though, should not be viewed separately from the overall appearance of the new housing architecture. In the same fashion as appeared the houses that have nothing in common with the Bulgarian tradition, so did the present day house yard – it acquired new characteristic features.
What is the essence of this last metamorphosis of the Bulgarian house yard? Tall stone fences were built anew and solid gates were mounted, all sorts of swimming pools glisten in the sun like never before, trees from lands far away rustle in the wind…And why the stone walls? Why not hedges or charming ornate laces of metal fencing instead? I hope it is not because Bulgarians today want to hide from the evil eye, but rather it is because they cherish traditions. And why the swimming pool and not a babbling brook instead? Probably because this very pool was seen in a picture in a travel guide for an exotic vacation. How about the outlandish trees? Because they can already be found on our market as well and they really are beautiful.
The good news is that people have regained a taste for their home yard and there are more and more possibilities to suit their newly acquired tastes.