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‘Medieval’ garden created in the Homestead, York
A MEDIEVAL-STYLE garden has been created near a park in Clifton to commemorate York’s 800th anniversary as a self-governing city.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has created the feature in the style of a monastery garden at the Homestead, site of a park which is popular with children from across the city as well as the foundation’s headquarters.
Visitors walking to the park from Water End will go straight past the garden, which measures about 20 feet by 8 feet and has been created as part of the York 800 celebrations, said a spokesman.
He said the garden, which was officially opened yesterday by foundation chief executive Julia Unwin, was enclosed by a woven hazel fence to give a sense of peace and security.
It was divided into four beds with narrow paths in a cruciform shape, ‘just wide enough for a monk to kneel.’ He said: “Water, the symbolic fount of life, was an essential element and always placed in the centre. The garden was a place for meditation and contemplation.
“Developed for self-sufficient communities, the plants were primarily culinary or medicinal.”
He said herbs were grown to make into lotions and ointments to heal the sick in the infirmary, while fruit and vegetables were cultivated to use in the kitchens and flowers were grown for the church altar for decoration and scent.
“In medieval times only a small choice of plants was available, compared with the numerous varieties today,” he said.
“Favourites included roses, peonies, heliotrope, lilies and violets.”
He said the flowers had symbolic meaning or religious significance, with many white-flowering plants dedicated to the Virgin Mary. “For example, the Madonna Lily (Lilium candidum) was the Virgin’s emblem, the white petals representing her purity and the yellow anthers the glowing light of her soul.
“The White Rose of Yorkshire (Rosa x alba) represented the Virgin Mary and in medieval times it was known as the Mystical Rose of Heaven.
Later it became the emblem of the House of York during the War of the Roses, in the reign of the Plantagenet monarchs.”
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