Plants in English Tudor Gardens

The intermingling of ornamental with useful plants continued to be common in Tudor gardens. As an innovation, Andrew Borde recommended that there be two divisions separated by a broad-hedged alley. One of these sections was to be devoted to pot-herbs, the other to “quarters and pulse together with a place for bee-hives.” Sometimes, too, fruit trees were placed in a special enclosure. Generally, in the smaller gardens, all sorts of vegetation were included, and herbs grown for medicinal purposes were side by side with those cultivated principally for their beauty.

Among the more ornamental plants grown in the garden were the acanthus, asphodel, auricula, amaranth (flower gentle or flower amor), cornflower (or bottle blew, red, and white), cowslip, daffodil, daisy, gilly-flower (red, white, and carnation), hollyhock (red, white, and carnation), iris (flower de luce or the flos delict-
arum of the Middle Ages), Indian eye, lavender, larkspur (larkes foot), lily of the
valley, lily (white and red), double marigold, nigella Romana, pansy or heart’s-ease,
pink, peony, periwinkle, poppy, primrose, rocket, roses of many sorts, including the sweetbrier or eglantine, snap-dragon (snag dragon), clove gillyflower (sops-in-wine), sweet-william, sweet-john, star of Bethlehem, star of Jerusalem, stock gillyflower, tuft gillyflower, velvet flower (French marigold), violet, wallflower, and besides, sweet-smelling herbs, such as mint and marjoram.

The shape of the flowerbeds was considered more important than their contents. The four quarters formed by the main alleys, which intersected the middle of the garden, were enclosed by a latticework fence or striped railings fastened to posts or to carved beasts. These quarters were subdivided into knots. The knot was either a geometrical pattern or the outline of some fanciful shape, such as a dragon, kept in place by a coping of wood, brick, stone, or tiles, and edged with box or some other border plant. The design of the knot was known as open or closed, according to whether it was merely outlined with a border plant, and strewn inside the outlines with colored sands, or was filled with growing flowers.

A maze or labyrinth was another favorite ornamental design, and sometimes took the place of the knots. Occasionally it was planted with hedges high enough to conceal the intricacies of the paths, and to force the uninitiated to wander long upon the outskirts, unable to penetrate within; but often it was merely outlined with lavender or some other low growing plant, and served simply as a form of decoration. The central object point was usually an arbor or a clipped tree.

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