A beautiful combination of two of my greatest joys - gardens and all things Medieval. I've never come across a book that focuses on Medieval gardens alone before, so this book was a winner even before I'd opened it.
The book is broken down into sections such as the European influence, tools used in Medieval gardening, water features, the plants chosen, and the evidence used to identify Medieval gardens. The book concludes with two of my favourite things: the Medieval gardening year and how to create your own Medieval garden. The list of jobs is, of course, very similar to gardening jobs now, but in Medieval times it took on rituals aligned to the whole village.
Throughout, the book is illustrated with paintings and tapestries from the period, as well as beautiful photographs of gardens today, so if you have the choice, buy the hardback version so the pictures can be truly appreciated. These images though have been painted or created in Europe so there is some speculation or perhaps romanticism about the features of the gardens in Britain, especially considering that the flowers are shown flowering out of season.
There is a great mix of history and horticulture in this book. It is written in a very accessible way so the reader doesn't have to be a specialist in either field to thoroughly enjoy the read. Personally, I enjoyed reading about the castles I have visited and learning about the gardens that were there, like Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. So the book could serve as a traveller's guide too. As Medieval England was a deeply religious time, many gardens were created to honour the garden of Eden and contained much symbolism, so the gardens of abbeys, monasteries and churches are particularly fascinating.
A well-researched and informative book that will look good on anyone's shelf. Highly recommended to everyone interested in Britain.
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Published by Pen & Sword, White Owl on 30 January 2022 (hardback edition) and 30 March 2022 (Kindle edition).
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.