Sunday, April 12, 2009

England and its long distance relationships to gardens

A first stab....Early medieval period

The cultivation of plants is as a general rule is innately wrapped up with healing, herbs and foods, and later materials for the production of goods. At a later time we will take a good look at what the Islamic, Greek and Roman worlds were up to and their impact on what will happen in Europe even before the revolution of gardening and knowledge of plants had really got a hold in the more northern climes. There is just so much of historical importance that is already well recorded, the true student must look elsewhere for depth.

In England's case we can look far back into early medieval times with much important knowledge resting with the monastic orders, our early writers and recorders of just about everything. They were the Internet of all things cultural and knowledgeable (As deemed by them in power) Was it ever thus?

Whether it is the Austrian Abbot George Mendel who was experimenting with the genes of plants in the 16th century or Edith Partiger's creation Brother Cadfael.of the 20th century there are lots of ways to get a handle on the monastic impact on the study and

development of order of plants and gardens Many of the best gardens that are to be seen in England are those that have been preserved from that period; old abbeys, stately homes that were gained having been parcelled out to those favoured by the powers that be at the time of the Reformation.

Here are a few to get you going if you want to follow this line:

Abbey House Gardens Malmesbury In effect a town garden.

Shopping and gardening with the Naked Gardeners ,Ian and Barbara Pollard. They bought and have restored medieval Abbey House with 5 acres of land. Strong on garden design. Including a celtic cross garden. Gardens hav seasonal shows of flowers including tulips and maples. Open Spring and Summer.

Nice quote:

We both try not to take ourselves too seriously although we take what we do very seriously. It seems a person only has so much control in life and when you work with nature, especially the weather you have to accept what happens because there is nothing else you can do!!"

The Museum of Garden History in St Mary Lambeth London. This is now a great museum of gardening but the deconsecrated church that it is housed in was where many of the Howard family were buried. - Like Anne Boleyn's mother?

Now of course it is a good example of inner city gardening and allotments. Coincidentally the burial place of two famous 17th century Royal gardeners and plant hunters John Tradescant and his son.

UNESCO-listed Ruins of Fountains Abbey at Studley Royal Park, North Yorkshire

...It is one of the few Cistercian houses surviving from the 12th Century and provides an unrivalled picture of a great religious house in all its parts. Fountains Abbey, founded in 1132, soon became one of the largest and richest Cistercian abbeys in Britain, before being close

d by Henry VIII in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was partially demolished soon after......”

The Studley Royal Park isnt to be sniffed at either from what the World Heritage site says:

''..Studley Royal Park .....combines into one harmonious whole buildings, gardens and landscapes constructed over a period of 800 years. All(.....) have been integrated into a continuous landscape of exceptional merit and beauty.”

Another small priory in Yorkshire the ruins of the 14th century Carthusian Mount Grace priory has a small herb garden. At Staddle Bridge, Osmotherley, Northallerton

And I must mention Mottisfont Abbey Gardens, now owned by the National Trust, just down the road from me so to speak before I left England and where I spent many an hour or a day and inevitably a few quid on their old fashioned rose plants

A 12th century Augustinian priory converted into a private home after the Dissolution of the monasteries. the grounds have magnificent trees, walled gardens and the National Collection of Old-fashioned Roses. NT also own Mottisfont village and all its surrounding farmland and woods. There are magnificent walled gardens showing expaliers of fruit and a range of flowers to die for.

Note: As ever the photos were taken by me.

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