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Technical Terms dealing with Medieval period gardens
by Lauren Stier · All Zones · Terminology · 0 Comments · April 21, 2012 · 21,281 views

Classical Influnces

Medieval and particulary Renaissance gardening was heavily influnced by the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans:

  • Columella (On Agriculture)
  • Varro (On Agriculture: Rerum rusticarum)
  • Cato (On Agriculture: De re rustica)
  • Palladius (On Husbandry)
  • Pliny the Elder
  • Dioscorides Pedanius, of Anazarbos. (De Materia Medica)

Period Records

  • Charlemagne's list of plants to plant on manors
  • Hortulus,Walafrid of Strabo, 9th century (Richenau on Lake Constance)
  • Prospective plan of gardens at Monastery of St. Gall (Switzerland)
  • Alexander Neckham, De Naturis Rerum (between 1170 annd 1200?)
  • Bartholomaeus Anglicius, De Prosrietatibus Rerum, 1240
  • Roman de La Rose, 1237-1277
  • The Feate of Gardening, Poem by Jon the Gardener, in English, in the 15th? century
  • Pietro de' Crecenzi, Liber ruralium commodorum, 1305
  • Albertus Magnus, De Vegetabilis et Plantis [On Vegetables and Plants], circa 1260
  • Thomas Tusser's 100 points of good Husbandry & 500 points of good husbandry
  • Thomas Hyll, The Gardener's Labyrinth

Technical Terms

  • Orchard - garden or place with spaced trees, usually with fruit
  • Herber - herb garden and/or pleasure garden
  • Hortus Conclusus - garden enclosed (term used mostly in religious allegory)
  • Pleasunce - large complex pleasure garden/park
  • Wood - (uncultivated except by forestry)
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Paradise - term used on St. Gall plan to refer to an open court in a monastery garden, where flowers to decorate the church were grown

While there is not a clear delineation between gardens for pleasure and utilitarian gardens, orchards, ect. it's clear that some parts of some gardens were primary to be a delight to the senses, and others for their end products. 16th and 17th century writers, such as Hill, Lawson, Markham and Parkinson, made very clear distinctions between them in their writings. Landsberg says:

The kitchen or utilitarian garden, in contrast with the pleasure garden, contained food and medicinal plants as well as plants for strewing on floors, making hand waters, quelling insects and other household purposes.

Most every manor, abbey, and even great estates would have utilitarian gardens, demesne farm fields, and perhaps woods and even vineyards or orchards in addition to some sort of pleasure garden. (Vineyards were less prevalent and less successful in Northern Europe than Southern Europe but grape vine plantings were useful for the production of verjuice and perhapes grapes for eating even when wine quality was not achieved.)

Lauren Stier

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Lauren Stier - I have a medieval garden which has been an ongoing project

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