A Walk into the Past

The Penn State Medieval Garden has been designed to showcase the variety of medieval plants used as ornamentals, food crops, medicinal ingredients and for household purposes during the Middle Ages. All plants in the garden are species that were documented in medieval herbals, some dating back as far as the 5th or 6th century. The use to which plants were put varied greatly and many plants had multiple functions. Although many plants found in this garden are not common garden plants, and some are even considered weeds, they all had their place in providing for the needs of people in the Middle Ages.

The Medieval Garden is not intended to be a recreation of any particular garden instead it is a collection of medieval plants. These plants are planted, grown, and documented through observation and photography. This information is then utilized to develop the individual plant data sheets found in this website. The data sheets developed for each plant will give you an idea of the uses for which the plant was recommended as well as an image of the plant as seen through the eyes of the illustrator. Depending on the method uses, hand-drawn, woodblock, or copper-plate, these images can be extremely detailed or surprisingly simple.

The garden itself is not intended to be a recreation of a medieval garden, instead, it is a medieval plant collection. The plants in the collection are planted, grown and documented. The results of that observation and photographic documentation can be seen in the web site on the individual plant pages.

At this point I would like to give a very special word of thanks Dr. Vickie Ziegler, Department of Medieval Studies at Penn State, retired, for all her help, advice, and support over the years. She has truly been a good friend to me and the garden, for without her, it might never have gotten off the drafting board and into the ground.

Plants and Flowers in the Medieval Garden
Grape harvest in September in Medieval times and Chateau de Saumer
Grape harvest in September. The structure in the rear is the Chateau de Saumer.