Posted: Friday, September 11, 2015
While summer may be a slow season for some, it is teeming with activity at The Cloisters museum and gardens, especially during the nine weeks of The Cloisters Summer College Internship Program. This intensive program provides training on the Museum and its collection, the contextual background of medieval art, and pedagogy, giving interns the opportunity to conduct workshops for day-camp groups and pursue concentrated research to develop a thematic tour for the general public. Special gallery talks are the final project of this rigorous summer program.
Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2015
The corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is described as an annual weed that thrives on wastelands, roadsides, and neglected fields, and it is most famously associated with battlefields. As a denizen of disturbed lands, the poppy was one of the first and most striking colonizers of a trampled and scarred landscape. Its luminescent red flowers symbolize the blood of the fallen and serve as a reminder of the beauty of life amidst the devastation of war. Dubbed Flanders, or remembrance, poppy, the corn poppy is a symbol of the First World War in contemporary culture.
Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2015
Earlier this season, the gardens department here at the The Cloisters museum and gardens decided to freshen up and expand our cultivated hops (Humulus lupulus). In last week's post, I explained the precedent for vertical trellises in late medieval and early modern horticulture and how we used this to construct a vertical trellis for the hops in the Bonnefont Herb Garden. Today I'll outline the creation of a new bed outside the museum's walls for several young hops plants started in the greenhouse and the construction of a structure for the plants to climb.
Posted: Friday, August 7, 2015
Earlier this season, we decided to freshen up and expand the cultivated hops (Humulus lupulus) at The Cloisters museum and gardens. Managing Horticulturist Caleb Leech, Gardener Yvette Weaver, and I sought to construct a new structure on which to train the hops in the Bonnefont Herb Garden to grow, and to install a new bed in the grounds outside the Museum's walls for additional hops cultivation. We will share the process for accomplishing both projects over two blog posts. Today I will discuss how the gardens department went about constructing the new hops trellis in the Bonnefont Herb Garden, and the story of the new hops bed will be explained in a later post.
Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2015
For those who appreciate its tart flavor, rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a quintessential early summer treat. Stewed with strawberries, infused in summer spritzers, or preserved in jams and chutneys, this vegetable is one of the "fruits" of the season.
Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2015
Last summer, in mid-July, I was handed the once-fragrant fruit of our mandrake (Mandragora officinarum), and it was bursting with seeds that were ready to be sown. This was my opportunity to propagate the legendary plant depicted in Pan's Labyrinth and Harry Potter.
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Within the past few weeks the grip of a long winter has loosened, and we have turned our attention toward our trees. Recent visitors might have noticed that our consulting arborist was hard at work pollarding the crab apples in the Cuxa Cloister. She'll have moved on to the trees in the orchard and our beloved veteran fruit trees in the Bonnefont Herb Garden by the time this post is published. We'll also be undertaking the first coppicing of our willows, a topic introduced in my previous post.
Posted: Friday, March 13, 2015
Although the vernal equinox is mere days away, this week is our first taste of spring. For most people, the start of spring is a celebrated event that signals longer days and warmer temperatures. In medieval Europe, spring was considered a highly auspicious time; in many parts of Western Europe, it marked the beginning of a new year and included one of the most important occasions, the Feast of the Annunciation (see "Lady Day" [March 25, 2011] on The Medieval Garden Enclosed).
Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2015
An attractive feature of the Bonnefont Herb Garden in winter and early spring is the distinctive wattle used in the raised beds. Medieval gardens, orchards, and property boundaries were enclosed in a variety of ways, including by hedges and wattle fences. In the Bonnefont Herb Garden, our wattle, or hurdles (pictured above), of various heights edge the beds and support the plants. The hurdles and supports are made from willow from the Somerset Levels (wetlands) in England; willow has been grown and woven in Somerset since the late Iron Age. Willow work is still commercially produced in the region and the same family has made our wattle elements for many years.
Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015
In the midst of ice and wind, I retreat to the warmth of the indoors at The Cloisters museum and gardens. I long for growth, and daydream about the upcoming spring. And I write about color now to invigorate myself against a possible winter slump.