The Landscape Guide

Medieval tree-gardens

At an early date very large forest-gardens were laid out. In Mai and Beaflore the prince gives a banquet to a great number of people: “A little garden of trees full of white-rose bowers was under the castle. Many were sitting there on seats; poor and rich ate together.”

This garden was often a park for animals as well: “ Beneath the marble tower lies a wonderful garden of trees, with walls all round, and generally with wild animals.” So writes the author of Guillaume de Palerne. The nobles soon began to make sure of the hunt, by keeping large areas as parks surrounded by high walls. Thus writes Hartmann von-der Aue in Erec:

“The king took two acres or even more of woodland by the lake, and threw a wall around it,” The whole description shows that this does not remain mere wild land: it was divided into three parts for different kinds of animals, and the king had a well-appointed shooting-box. built, so that he could look on at the hunt with the ladies. Ragevin too describes one of these, built by Barbarossa about the year 1161, a red stone building of no little magnificence: “ On the one side it had strong walls, on the other a fish-tank, rather like a lake, where fish and birds are kept, beautiful to look at and good to eat. The park adjoins it with plenty of stags and does.”


Illustrations on CD edition of Garden Visit and Travel Guide - see