Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hi Everyone! The list of info for our plants in the garden is getting full! I only have a few blank spaces left. I’ve found out some interesting facts in my sources that I’d like to share with you.

Margaret B. Freeman, in her thorough and widely-trusted book on the Unicorn Tapestries, gives us a full chapter on plants that appear in these beautiful textile works. However, she does not only state that these plants appear, but she gives us a brief summary of their uses and/or connotations in the Middle Ages. I especially appreciate her use of primary sources, such as her use of “the German Hortus Sanitatis” for the field daisy.[1] In this she finds that daisies are a “cure for excessive sexual desire that might conceivably lead to infidelity.”[2] The Hortus Sanitatis says that daisies make a man’s “fantasy and wicked wishes [turn] to good” and it promises that it will make him “think of the virtue of Saint John and offer a Pater Noster and an Ave Maria and [be] freed from this wicked melancholy without fail.”[3] Perhaps this source reflected the traditional name of “Saint John’s flower.”[4] It was also called oculus Christi (eye of Christ) and maudlin “in honor of Saint Mary Magdaline.”[5]

William Turner also has some uses of the daisy for us. In a previous post I had told you that his herbal, which he called A New Herball, was the first of its kind in the English language, although it is heavily based on older and even ancient texts in Greek and Latin. His entry for daisy says, “this herb driveth away great swellings and wens [sebaceous cysts].”[6] That would probably be very useful information for society that worked so much with their hands.

Speaking of which, remember that our Heraldic garden at Loyola relies on volunteers, so please come and help us sometime! There’s plenty of work to do as we enter spring, and you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of your work as our beautiful garden plants blossom! See you in the garden!

This is an image of the English daisy, which Magaret B. Freeman has a separate entry for. She says that it was often include in paintings and tapestries of the Middle Ages. It was associated, oddly enough, with both the Virgin Mary and Venus. Freeman, Margaret B., “The Unicorn Tapestries” (Lausanne; Helvetica Press Incorporated, 1976).

[1] Freeman, Margaret B., “The Unicorn Tapestries” (Lausanne; Helvetica Press Incorporated, 1976).
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Chapman, George T. L., Marilyn N. Twedle, eds. William Turner “A New Herball,” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

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