Posts Tagged ‘Virgin’

Friday, February 5, 2010

Landscape Design in the Middle Ages

annunciation_detail2_300 The Unicorn in Captivity (detail) Trie Cloister Garden

Above, from left to right: Detail from The Annunciation (17.190.7); Detail from The Unicorn in Captivity (37.80.6); Trie Cloister Garden in bloom.

…fruit trees that grow easily, such as cherries and apples, should be planted in place of walls; or, what is better, willows or elms or birch trees should be planted there, and their growth should be controlled for several years, both by grafting and by stakes, poles, and ties, so that walls and a roof might be formed from them.

—Book III: “On the Gardens of Kings and other Illustrious Lords.” Piero de’ Crescenzi, Liber ruralium commodorum (1305-09). (See Catena, the Bard Graduate Center’s Digital Archive of Historic Gardens and Landscapes for more information.)

In my undergraduate studies in landscape and architecture, I examined how the natural landscape is used to determine designs for parks, gardens, and public spaces. I took part in several design processes, which included research on site analysis, interviewing potential patrons of public spaces, building models of future designs, and using plants to blend artistic design with nature. I learned to look at the land as a palimpsest rather than a blank slate, and to examine its many layers of use throughout history, understanding that context is an important influence on new designs. Now, as the new assistant horticulturist here at The Cloisters, I’ve found more levels of meaning to my studies, and am inspired to think about design issues from a landscape historian’s perspective. Read more »

Friday, May 8, 2009

I am the lily of the valleys . . .

Lily of the Valley Detail from Two Riddles of the Queen of Sheba Lily of the Valley in Fruit

Above, from left to right: Detail of a potted lily of the valley forced for early display in Cuxa cloister; Detail of the tapestry The Queen of Sheba before King Solomon from Two Riddles of the Queen of Sheba; Lily of the valley fruiting in Bonnefont Garden in late summer.

I am the flower of the field,
And the lily of the valleys.
As the lily among thorns, so is
My love among the daughters.

—Canticle of Canticles (Song of Songs) 2:1-2

The lily and the rose are the chief adornments of the allegorical hortus conclusus, the enclosed garden of the Virgin rooted in the language of the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. Read more »