A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Cloisters

The Cloisters is a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is a collection of art and architecture from medieval Europe. It is also the home of the famed Unicorn tapestries. There are three gardens located in courtyards within the building.

The Cuxa Cloister Garth garden is typical of monastic gardens, a protected area where the monks could enjoy nature without leaving the confines of the monastery.

It is divided into quadrants with a fountain in the middle. Surrounding the garden is an arcade.

The capital of each column is unique.

Lawns were often planted in cloister garths. A crab apple tree grows in each of the quadrants.

The herbs and flowers bordering the paths provide color and scent from early spring through late autumn.

The Trie Cloister Garden is a fantasy garden inspired by the floral backgrounds (“millefleurs) of Late Gothic tapestries.

This garden was filled with birds who came to roost on and drink from the fountain and feast on crumbs from the diners seated in the food court inside the arcade.

The Bonnefont Cloister Herb Garden contains one of the most specialized plant collections in the world based on the more than 400 species of plants known and used in the Middle Ages.

Plants are grouped and labeled according to their medieval use. Most plants had multiple uses. The plan of the herb garden is typical of a medieval monastic garden. The raised beds, wattle fences and well are all features frequently depicted in medieval sources.

Raised Beds

Wattle Fence


There were also two enormous espaliered trees. I’m sorry, but I was so fried from the heat at that point that I didn’t make note of what kind of trees they were.

I also neglected to ask “A” to do her regular favor of providing scale for my photos. If you go back to the first photo of the herb garden and look immediately above the head of the woman with the purple skirt, you will see one of the espaliered trees.

We toured inside as well as outside, but museum rules are no flash so I was unable to take photos to share with you of the incredible collections. You will just have to see them for yourself next time you are visiting New York City.

More photos of our trip to The Cloisters can be seen on Flickr.


At 3:38 AM, Blogger Rosengeranium said...

Oh dear! I wish I had the money to go to New York! My wishlist on what to see gets longer for every month. Right now I think just a couple of months would do. Wait another month and we'll need a year...

Lovely garden and lovely pictures!

At 10:25 PM, Blogger Annie in Austin said...

The Cloisters has been on my wishlish for years and years, OldRoses - of course one reason to wish for it would be that I'd get to the Metropolitan Museum itself, too!

How cool that you got there - and thank you for the photos.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Digital Flower Pictures said...

I have only been to the Cloisters in the winter. Thanks for the tour. It really looks interesting.

At 9:34 PM, Blogger Ki said...

Thanks for posting the pictures from the Cloisters. We visited the Cloisters many years ago and loved the Medlar trees in the courtyard. When we asked a gardener what the trees were he said they were quinces. Because we loved the look or those trees so much I bought some quince (Cydonia oblonga) and nurtured it for several years, hoping it would start to look more like the trees at the Cloisters before deciding that it was not the same tree. It took until this year before I found out the trees are Medlars. I bought a Medlar but it is a tiny plant so I'm hoping that this is finally the right tree. This has been more than a 10 year search.

At 10:23 PM, Blogger Kerri said...

Another wonderful garden! Looks like a very enjoyable day in spite of the heat. Thanks for sharing these great photos.
I've been to the Met but didn't know about this garden. Maybe we'll get there one of these days now that Kylie and Ko will be living in the city.


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