We began this project with a hypothesis. We believed that the Columbian Exchange would have changed the way common people of the Renaissance gardened. Our plan was to create two gardens at the Renaissance Center, representing pre- and post-1492 northern European cottage gardens. However our research has found that New World plants coming to Europe after Columbus didn’t have a dramatic impact on cottage gardens in northern Europe until sometime after the period we think of as the Renaissance.
So….. a shift in theme!
In fact, the research has brought forth some really interesting ideas that we hope to work into our garden plans. We still plan on designing a vegetable/herb/flower garden typical to the period. At the same time, we think we can use the garden to tell some interesting stories about how common people lived (and ate) during the 14th to 17th centuries.
So… our research continues!
Aaron will focus on growing of hops, various period growing technologies and techniques, garden design, natural structures (such as wattle fencing) and how coppicing might be incorporated into the Renaissance Center property.
Jennie will continue to look more closely at the food plants that go into pottage, how herbs were grown, the yearly cycle of growing, what plants were used to stock the supply closet such as medicine and cleaning products, and a bit on the “permaculture of the Middle Ages” (did they know it was sustainable?).
Paula will focus on the relationship between common plants and lifestyles (context and culture) particularly cooking and medicine.
Abby will look into the cultural meaning of the strawberry how it changed from representing “the trinity to lust.” She will also investigate the border of gardens an how flowers might have been used. Finally, she will explore the impact of gardening at the manor or royal houses where commoners might have worked and taken techniques and plants home.
Eliza is looking at the structure of the garden, period tools, wintering techniques for plants, and incorporating bees for honey into the garden.
Madeline has been investigating a contemplation garden with a grape vine arbor and discovered a similar project at Penn State University! She will also explore the history and significance of the rose in Medieval England.
And the work goes on!