Secret Gardens

By John Scott | January 13, 2014

David Wheeler, editor of the beautifully written gardening quarterly Hortus, is writing a book about the private and public gardens of Istanbul and the Bosphorus. Some of his recent exploits in the city are recounted in Cornucopia 50 (A City of Secret Gardens).

On Saturday, the Daily Telegraph published his impressions of the unspoilt archipelago of the Princes Islands, which he visited in the company of the landscape designer Gürsan Ergil, whose latest commissions include the Turkish Embassy in Ulan Batur, capital of Mongolia, as well as the garden of the  stunning 1950s villa built on Büyükada, the largest of the Princes Islands, by Sedat Hakkı Eldem for Fethi Okyar. The island is famed for its fragrant mimosa (above), sold on the streets of Istanbul from early spring.

His book is concerned principally with post-Ottoman and present-day gardens and David now asks Cornucopia readers to help him locate large or small private gardens worthy of inclusion. His general sweep includes Istanbul’s botanic gardens, arboreta, cemeteries (also home to many fine trees), public parks, bostans (private and municipal vegetable gardens) and the green areas surrounding mosques and churches. Many of these are conveniently recorded on maps and in a variety of guidebooks, but private gardens (including interesting roof gardens) remain well-kept secrets. If you know of any private gardens in Istanbul or on either side of the Bosphorus that David can visit on his visits in March, July and October this year please email contact details and brief descriptions to him at

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