Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hello again! These last few weeks, I’ve been looking at articles on medieval plants and gardens, and oftentimes specific examples of gardens will pop up. I’d like to ‘show’ you one of them, and then tell you a little about our own medieval garden here at Loyola.

The garden belonged to Henry the Poet, known also, according to historian John H. Harvey, as Henricus Angelicus or Henry Englisch. Harvey also comes to the conclusion that this Henry the Poet was the one who had written this important document because of the “correspondence of Latin and English texts” that he finds.[1]

The document has a list of 25 herbs, specified by the Latin description to be “on the north border of Henry’s square garden.”[2] These first 25 are followed by lists of 25, 23 and 21 herbs, which are assumed to comprise the square: the shape was common for gardens and we can see the square appearing in medieval Books of Hours.
 A beautiful illustration including a square plot of garden.[3]
Harvey finds that “the special interest of this text is that it fully demonstrates the employment of what may be loosely termed an Herbaceous Border as a system of planting…”[4] The placement of herbs was usually separate, according to illustrations from the time, and bordering herbs were mostly found at later dates. Interestingly, beautiful flowering, “ornamental” and “aromatic” plants were also in this garden. If you’d like to see what kinds of flowers were grown at this time-beautiful rose, English bluebells and daisies-come visit our own medieval garden at Loyola!...when it’s warmer, in spring.
In the meantime, bundle up!

[1] John H. Harvey, “The Square Garden of Henry the Poet.” Garden History, Vol. 15, (1987): 1-11.
[2] Harvey, John H, “The Square Garden” 1.
[3] Marie Collins and Virginia Davis, “A Medieval Book of Seasons,” (New York: Harper Collins, 1992),
[4] Harvey, John H. “The square Garden” 2. 

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