Archive for July, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Immortal Fruit

Punica granatum 'Nana' Detail from the Unicorn Tapestry showing a pomegranate Punica granatum

Above, from left to right: A potted dwarf pomegranate flowering and fruiting now; a detail of a pomegranate tree depicted in The Unicorn Is Attacked; a full-sized pomegranate ripening on a tree set in the ground in Bonnefont Garden. Pomegranates are deciduous; the leaves turn a bright yellow before falling in October. By the Middle Ages, the exotic eastern fruit had long been cultivated in southern Europe. Although it is not cold-hardy, pomegranate has been grown in the gardens of The Cloisters from their beginnings.

I went down into the nut orchard,
to look at the blossoms of the
valley,
To see whether the vines had budded,
whether the pomegranates were
in bloom.
Before I was aware, my fancy set me
in a chariot beside my prince.

Song of Solomon 6:11 and 12 (Revised Standard Version)

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicory and Chicory

Cichorium intybus

The succory, or wild chicory (Cichorium intybus), grown in the kitchen bed in Bonnefont Garden blooms a deep sky-blue in the morning, fading to a pale blue by the end of the day. Photograph by Barbara Bell.

Two species of chicory are flourishing in the kitchen bed in Bonnefont Garden: Cichorium intybus and Cichorium endivia. The many deep-blue flowers that open for a day are a glorious sight in the morning sun, although the color fades in the heat and light of the afternoon. Read more »

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gaining Grain

July page from the <em>Belles Heures</em> July Activity: Reaping Grain The Zodiacal Sign of Leo

Above, from left to right: Calendar page for July from the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, 1405–1408/1409. Pol, Jean, and Herman de Limbourg (Franco-Netherlandish, active in France, by 1399–1416). French; Made in Paris. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cloisters Collection, 1954 (54.1.1); detail of the activity for the month; detail of the zodiacal symbol Leo. See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

“No tempest, good Julie,” said Thomas Tusser. In Tusser’s sixteenth-century English, “July” rhymed with “truly”—as it did until the mid-eighteenth century. (The Oxford Companion to the Year, 1999). If the midsummer storms did not spoil the crops, the farmer could count himself lucky. (For charms against bad weather, see “Midsomer Magick,” June 23.)

The great event of the medieval summer was the harvest. A poor yield meant privation for the whole cycle of the year to come. By July the grain stores of the last harvest were depleted. In the great fourteenth-century poem Piers Plowman, Piers speaks of staving off hunger with a vegetable diet of parsley, leeks, and cabbages, supplemented with a little cream and some cheese, until the grain in his barn can be replenished at Lammas, the first of August. Read more »