The Black Garden is a realm isolated from space and time and often described as the birthplace of the Vex. It houses the Black Heart, an entity that is intrinsically linked to the Darkness, and is tended and guarded by the Sol Divisive collective.
The nature and purpose of the Black Garden is one of the longest-running mysteries known to the scholars of the Tower.
According to Pujari, the Black Garden is a reflection of the Traveler's actions: when it terraformed the "iron world," the Garden either came to be or changed to match. The mesa-like structure in the center of the Garden strongly resembles the Cradle left behind by the Traveler on Io, which was also seemingly a product of the Traveler's terraforming activities. However, it was not created by the Traveler. When the Vex arrived, they attempted to control it and impose their own changes through rigorous engineering and earth-moving.
The Black Garden is a place where "everything grows" and where "abstract patterns war for survival, fighting to propagate themselves by preying on each other." Thoughts such as ideas and concepts are carried on the wind in the form of whispers, "sentences with just the beginnings of syntax". Introducing new ideas into its conceptual environment, such as through speech, causes those ideas to "take root" in the Black Garden, changing the concepts present. Uldren conversing to a Cabal Legionary in Ulurant led to the whispers taking on aspects of Ulurant grammar. The Vex there sing ("faint, wraithlike notes of inhuman clarity") to "see how the Garden changes their song." The Vex are particularly interested in the Black Garden because its effects on them "[grow] them toward what they want to be."
Prolonged exposure to the Black Garden's environment can be dangerous. The concepts being whispered there are potentially a contagious brainstain hazard. The Legionary who Uldren spoke to, who had been exposed to the Garden for an unknown length of time, ended up having its "secrets" grown into him in the form of thousands of tiny seeds pockmarking his skull, incidentally imparting him with some knowledge of the Vex.
The sky of the Garden has shifted from one covered in a thick, green veil, to one containing three suns and a planet with an orbiting moon.
Initially, the only known way to access the Black Garden was through a Vex portal that required Gate Lord authority in the Valley of the Kings on Mars; the Garden existed on a separate plane, and the Vex had locked it out of time to protect it. After the Black Heart was destroyed, however, the Garden was anchored to the surface of Mars, becoming a part of contemporary time and space. During the Taken War, an Echo of Oryx and a coven of Taken broke into the Garden by burrowing to it from Tharsis Junction, creating a new entrance. During the events of Shadowkeep, a new Vex gate was discovered hidden beneath the lunar battlegrounds on Luna.
Long before any living being set foot in the Garden, tales of its existence were told throughout the system. It is intrinsically tied to both the Light and the Darkness long before the beginning of time. It is there that the Vex began as simple patterns within the flora of the Garden that bloomed into the macrocosm of the newly formed universe and became the first radiolaria. Another in particular, the Warlock Pujari had a vision of the Garden when he drowned in the waters of the Shores of Time.
Pujari's vision mentions that the Black Garden's existence is related to the Traveler's coming to Mars. However, he is careful to point out that "This is not the beginning but it is the reason." The Traveler did not create the Garden, Pujari claims, but its actions may have allowed the Garden to come into existence, because "In these things there is always symmetry." Pujari adds, "The Garden grows in both directions. It grows into tomorrow and yesterday. The red flowers bloom forever. There are gardeners now. They came into the garden in vessels of bronze and they move through the groves in rivers of thought." The "gardeners" in question are most likely the Vex; Pujari's vision suggests that the Vex did not always inhabit the Black Garden, but came to existence after the life within the Garden called out a question, to which the Vex are the answer.
Uldren and Jolyon
The first known human expedition into the Black Garden was a pair of Awoken from the Reef, Uldren Sov and Jolyon Till. By then, the location of the Vex gate leading to it was common knowledge, as well as the fact that it could only be entered by tricking the Vex into opening it for them. To enter it, Uldren and Jolyon provoked a Cabal attack on the gate, forcing it to activate and produce a Gate Lord to defend it, and then slipped in while it was distracted.
In the Black Garden, they witnessed many bizarre sights: plants with roots of circuitry, vines with thorns shaped like letters, beetles that wrestled with each other despite being only hollow exoskeletons. They came across the site of a Cabal-Vex battle and interrogated one of the surviving legionaries, who claimed that he had been kidnapped by the Vex. They discovered that the Garden had been slowly assimilating him in the form of seeds growing into his flesh.
After that point, Uldren's recollections grew surreal and dreamlike. His memories included a persistent heartbeat, fleeing through a thorny grove among fruits shaped like Ghosts, hiding with Jolyon from arguing voices, and putting his Crows through a dryer in an apartment block with a perfectly round hole in his hand. Uldren and Jolyon somehow found their way out, bringing some of the native red flowers back to the Reef.
After learning of the Black Garden's existence from the Exo Stranger, the Guardian travels to the Reef to inquire the Garden's location. Queen Mara Sov and Prince Uldren reveal that a Vex portal on Mars leads to the Garden, but requires the Eye of a Vex Gate Lord to access. After obtaining the Eye, the Guardian activates the Vex spire controlling the portal and then enters the portal itself. Deep in the Garden, the Guardian discovers the Black Heart, a malevolent entity guarded by the Sol Progeny that is feeding off of the Traveler's Light, keeping it dormant. Once the Heart is destroyed, Light returns to the Traveler and it begins to heal. The Garden's dimension ceases to drift and becomes part of Mars, making it accessible to the rest of the Guardians.
Later, a powerful Vex Axis Mind called The Undying Mind arrives in the Garden and attempts to revive the Black Heart with assistance from the Sol Primeval. The Mind also attempts to separate the Garden from our timeline, but it is destroyed before it can do either.
During the Taken War, Oryx, the Taken King sent an expeditionary force of Taken into the garden to investigate and possibly restore the Black Heart. An Echo of Oryx and its Taken coven invaded the Garden through secret tunnels under Freehold. The Sol Divisive was overwhelmed by the Taken as the Garden became a war zone. Only through Guardian intervention were the Taken expelled.
During the Red War, the Red Legion invaded Mars and broke the Vex stalemate with the Cabal invasion. In addition to occupying Mars, the Red Legion apparently destroyed the main gate used to access the Black Garden, irrevocably sealing the Garden for the Vex. On Nessus, an access point reports of more than one gardens similar to the Black Garden, it is unclear as to how many are being built or are destroyed, even the foliage on the access even outside the garden is somehow enhancing Vex firewall systems while still being organic and something else .
At some point before the death of Cayde-6, a trio of Guardians composed of the Titan Yardarm-4, the Hunter Lisbon-13, and led by the Warlock Rekkana, ventured into the Black Garden to find secrets about its origin. However, after repelling significant Vex resistant, the three Guardians lost their light after hearing whispers that their Ghosts could not detect. Afterwards, they made a deal with an unknown force, granting them strange powers, and eventually causing Lisbon-13 to turn on Rekkana and Yardarm-4. However, the outcome of these events is unknown, as their bodies were never found by a Vanguard scouting team.
When the Young Wolf ventures into the Pyramid, an entity takes control of the Guardian's Ghost and leads the Guardian to a spherical, unknown artifact. Upon interacting with the artifact, the Young Wolf is subjected to a vision within the Black Garden, wherein a doppleganger of the Guardian, possibly being a manifestation of the Darkness speaks to them. The doppleganger states that they have "Heard your cries for help" and would soon answer. When questioned as to what the being was, the doppleganger stated that they were not the Guardian's friend nor enemy, but rather their Salvation.
After bringing the artifact back to Eris Morn, it begins transmitting a signal that leads to the Black Garden. A fireteam of Guardians then enter the Black Garden via a newly-discovered portal on the moon, destroying Consecrated Mind, Sol Inherent and Sanctified Mind, Sol Inherent. At the end of their journey, the fireteam discovers a statue identical to the one found aboard the Pyramid.
However, the Vex would not take this incursion into the Black Garden lightly. The destruction of the Sol Inherent minds prompt the Sol Divisive to resurrect the Undying Mind. In turn, the Undying Mind copied itself across thousands of timelines after learning from its precious encounters; causing the Vex to invade the Moon en masse in effort to bar entry into the Black Garden.
After weeks of holding the Sol Divisive back, the Guardians follow Ikora's plan to use a beacon to pull one of the thousand copies of the Undying Mind from the timeways, giving them an opportunity to destroy the Axis Mind. The Guardian push forward against the latest Vex Offensive, breaching into the Black Garden once again and planting the beacon. As planned, the beacon draws a copy of the Undying Mind and after a perilous struggle, the Guardians succeed in destroying the Undying Mind. However, as thousands of copies of the Mind existed, the Guardians were forced to continually destroy the copies one-by-one using the same process. Eventually, every last copy of the Mind was destroyed. However the destruction of the Undying Minds caused the Corridors of Time to fracture, which proved an opportunity for the Red Legion to split Mercury into alternate timelines with the hijacked Sundial.
List of appearances