By Martin R. McGann and Robert D. Berghage
HortTechnology, vol. 14 no. 1 (2004)
Abstract: The Pennsylvania State University Medieval Garden (PSMG) showcases varieties of medieval plants used as ornamentals, food crops, medicinal ingredients, and for household purposes in a stylized setting representing a medieval garden. Since its installation, various colleges within the university as well as community groups have used the garden as an alternative classroom for learning activities, educational demonstrations, and events related to the medieval period. This article focuses on the initial development of the garden design and how the installation and continued use as a classroom has contributed to meeting educational goals for students in the landscape contracting program at the Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Agricultural Sciences.
Excerpt: The PSMG is representative of a garden of northwestern Europe during the latter Middle Ages. The selection of this time period permits use of the broadest range of period texts for plant research, teaching and garden illustrations. Although many period texts describe plants and their uses, information of specific medieval garden design, materials used and plant culture is minimal. Published garden information discusses the variety of period garden styles and designs but specifics on when certain styles were introduced, regional variations in design, plant availability or management of garden design elements adapted from a variety of different period and modern illustrations and texts. In concept, the garden provides a setting that functions as a background to display medieval plants used as ornamentals, food crops, medicinal ingredients and other household purposes. In addition, the garden was also designed to serve as an outdoor classroom for students with such varied interests as horticulture and plant science, use of plants in the medieval period, medicine, fine arts and plant illustration.