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Monday, March 22, 2010

Patterned gardens -precursors of walled and knot gardens

This medieval chess garden is arranged like a chess board with 16 raised beds. As you can see the owner is very pleased with his creation. Chess came back from the Crusades along with Persian rugs, spices, the lute, the caftan and a more sophisticated kind of garden.

Notice the tools. A twine for setting up straight  lines, a rake, a pick axe and a curved cutting tool for the twine. (These wonderful woodcuts are from Edward Hyams "A History of Gardens and Gardening" It is a treasure.)These raised beds are apparently  part of a potager - mixed flowers  ----that's a lily in the bottom center bed and vegetables. (That is most certainly a lettuce bottom left) A contemporary potager looks exactly the same   ( . It's a bit daunting to see how little gardens have changed in 600 years.....

Or 3000 years. Well, maybe a few differences. I could never get my monkeys to do anything useful. Impressive, but the one at the top is cheating. Primates are incorrigible thieves.  Actually these are  baboons

(See the sidebar for a contemporary photo---baboons also have seemingly changed very little in 3000 years--- though perhaps less co-operative. Egyptian magic? Or the  modern baboons have a union. )

 These gardens are the ancestors of a  school of English gardening  that includes walled gardens, knot gardens, and topiary gardens. Strangely enough, despite being labor intensive--if the labor is available a formal garden is easier to keep upHuh? Formal patterns require no initiative, just clipping, digging, setting up plants in the right bed. No less an authority than Rosemary Verey points this out. Never thought of it. But-she's right. Now if I could just get some baboons interested in helping out....

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