Center Director’s thoughts on the garden

arthurWhen we think of Renaissance art, we might think of such Italian artists as Leonardo da Vinci or Raphael or Michelangelo.

But in England, at least after Hans Holbein returned to the Continent in the early sixteenth century, the great native art was that of gardening. There are the mazes and knot gardens at Henry VIII’s palace at Hampton Court that can still amaze us and there were kitchen gardens behind many of England’s cottages.

The first rare book given to the Center, dedicated to Janet Dakin, the Center’s original owner and patron, was the great 1632 Herbal by John Gerard, actually a compilation of earlier herbals–and it is this book that has directed the plantings that now surround the Center’s main building.  If the plant is not in Gerard, it has not been allowed on the grounds!

Now, in partnership with the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and under the supervision of John Gerber, Ellen Kosmer, our new Gardeners Guild, and Alison Kiraly of the Center’s staff, we are adding a vegetable garden just like all those Elizabethans knew.

As Francis Bacon wrote; “a garden is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man without which buildings and palaces are but gross handiworks and a man shall ever see that when ages grow to civility and elegance…gardening were the greatest perfection.”

Arthur Kinney, Director

For more on the Massachusetts Renaissance Center!

The Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies is an internationally leading center for the study of the culture and achievements of the Renaissance period (1400-1700). The Center contributes to the field of Renaissance studies through research, teaching, and outreach to the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, the Amherst community, and beyond.

Home to the scholarly journals English Literary Renaissance and The Sidney Journal, as well as the book series Massachusetts Studies in Early Modern Culture, the Center is a lively scholarly community with a rich program of lectures, seminars, and conferences along with graduate and undergraduate classes and programs for the wider Amherst community. Visiting scholars from four continents have made use of the research opportunities at the Center, and the Center’s work reaches across both geographic and disciplinary boundaries.

We welcome all qualified scholars and students to do specialized research using our unique collection of more than 30,000 items, including primary and secondary texts, manuscripts, microfilms, CDs, DVDs, and one of the largest collections of books printed between 1500 and 1700 in the Northeast. This rich library includes, in addition, digitized resources and the papers of the Yale Thomas More edition, Dame Helen Gardner, Harriet Hawkins, C.A. Patrides, and Marvin Rosenberg, and the professional papers of many major Renaissance scholars as well as the working libraries of J.H. Hexter, Sam Schoenbaum, Arthur Kinney, Vincent Ilardi, and Carol and Robert Kaske.

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