Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Sorry for the lack of updates for these last two weeks, everyone. Things have a way of becoming busy, unexpectedly and rapidly! Entering in Loyola's Campus Movie Fest competition was definitely a trying experience, for what might be very little payoff - but hey, I had fun! To make up for the drought of garden-related information you've all had to suffer through, this week will have two blog entries.

It's time to return to the garden!

The seeds we had planted continue to grow, as the sprouts pop through the earth eager for sunlight and water.
Here, our lively kale continues its journey from the seed, to sprout, to eventual side on a dinner plate .

More kale, with lettuce as well. I'm rooting for these guys.
We also have planted some more pansies in the heraldic garden, but a recurring problem seems to center around the fact that rabbits find pansy flowers delicious, negating the desired color effect of the garden. We are looking into possible solutions that include but are not limited to multiple counts of head trauma.
I'm here to plant pansies and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of gum.
A few people have contacted me about setting up possible volunteering dates. First, I thank everyone who has shown interest in the project. Work on the garden is made much easier thanks to your support, curiosity, and interest!

Secondly, I will be doing some major garden cleaning this Friday at 3:00pm. Anyone interested is more than welcome to join. We will be clearing several portions of the garden of weeds and unwanted plants, preparing them for the spring planting. Walk-ins Welcome! 

Please contact me at or Dr. Theresa Gross-Diaz ( for more information regarding dates for garden work.

But I'm sure you didn't come reading this page just to hear me talk about my garden. You came here because you wanted to know that a medieval way of successfully planting leeks involved wrapping the seed in a damp cloth before depositing them into the ground, didn't you?

I found that tidbit in the Middle English text Godfridus Super Palladium, a 'super' interesting text on medieval horticulture. The Super Palladium of the title refers to how the work (by the English author Godfridus) would make a nice addition to the classical source on gardening, Palladius' Opus Agriculturae.

The work survives, either complete or in fragments, in roughly fifty English manuscripts, meaning that the work was quite popular in England.<sup>1</sup> The work was often found in manuscripts preceding or following a work titled Bollard's Book of Planting and Grafting, attributed to a Benedictine monk Nicolas Bollard.<sup>2</sup>

A large portion of the Super Palladium is devoted to either fruit trees or wine, and the techniques for cultivation, preservation, and storage. This particular piece about peach trees definitely seemed worth mentioning:
"A peche tre shal bryng forth pomegarnettis if it be wateryd with gotys milk thre dayes when it begynne to floure." (ll 120-121)
 While I don't have access to either peach trees or goat's milk, I would love to see if such a method could possibly work.

The aforementioned tip for leeks comes from this section:
"[For onions and leeks] Tak the sede for wheche thou wilt, and bynd every sed by hymself in a smal rynne of lynene clut that be well wet. And put hem in moyst erth of swich depness as men be wone to sow them." (ll 280-284)
The Godfridus Super Palladium underlines a typical aspect of medieval monastic gardens. They often served two distinct purposes: the growing of food and the sale of surplus. While monastic gardens were never created solely for profit, records from monastic gardens across England do indicate that the surplus was sold on a regular basis.<sup>3</sup> So storage and cultivation would obviously be important for any monastery wishing to maintain a stable line of food production. Westminster Abbey in particular had several gardens, each committed to its own task, whether it be food, or medicine, or contemplative gardens.

Monastic sources are often the primary sources of texts specializing in horticulture - things perceived as common, practical knowledge sometimes skip being put into writing.. However, as C.C. Dyer points out in "Gardens and Garden Produce in the Middle Ages," sometimes we have to look outside of the box: "Documents informing us fully about horticulture, ... are indeed scarce. Yet almost every source commonly used by the late medieval historian - deeds and charters, surveys, manorial and household accounts, the records of royal, seigneurial, and borough courts, wills and narrative sources, such as chronicles and saints' lives - contains at least brief references to gardens and their produce."<sup>4</sup>

My previous blogpost mentioned the St. Francis vita containing information about the saint's garden. Whether factual or not, the source nonetheless highlights medieval attitudes around gardening, as well as concrete gardening techniques and practices.

I've been looking through my research now, and I've been gathering some good things, such as nice long lists of medieval plants used in monastic gardens, or gardens, or plots of land in general. I haven't even touched the Hispano-Arab gardens, which is sure to be (quite literally) a whole other world of ideas, design, and function. I hope to share such knowledge with you all soon!


Dr. Gross-Diaz and I are looking for volunteers to assist in revitalizing the beautiful Medieval Labyrinth on Loyola, located on the lakeside patio of Crown Center.

As you can see, the labyrinth is in desperate need of repair. I was around when it was first completed, and it was simply a beautiful site on Loyola's campus, and a wonderful way of making the Middle Ages alive for the entire campus, as well as providing a visually pleasing and colorful maze for passers-by of all ages to try out during their free-time!

We will attempt to begin working on the restoration one Monday, October 8th. If you are at all interested in helping, contact Dr. Gross-Diaz ( and we can try to get a head-count going. Working on the labyrinth is lots of fun, and the end result is nothing short of astonishing! Plus, you will get up close and personal with the Middle Ages (much like helping out with the garden!) and get to leave your mark on campus in a big way!

Thank you all for reading, and I hope this will be the end of any delays! Happy Gardening!

-Charles Heinrich

PS it seems the footnote function isn't working properly as of this post. I will fix this shortly.

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