The Medieval Garden

In medieval times the enclosed garden , or hotus conclusus was a place of private contemplation, religious devotion, or a place for more earthly pleasures. The intention here, has been to create a medieval ‘herber’.

The Herber, described by Albertus Magnus in 1260, was based around a simple square of grass, with freely flowing air, surrounded by sweet-smelling flowers and herbs. Fruit trees were grown for fragrant blossom and shade, a turf bench for sitting on and if possible, a fountain. Grass was studded with wild flowers, to become a ‘flowery mead’. Arbours were very popular in medieval gardens, creating an enclosed space in an enclosed garden, vines and honeysuckle would cover them. Scented plants were very important.

In the late Middle Ages, the herber transformed into a theatre of courtly love and delights or hortus deliciarum. The flowers became symbols of earthly pleasures. In contrast to later gardens, the herber is a place to be in, rather than to look upon from the outside.

Original Garden Design: Caroline Holmes (on behalf of the Herb Society)


Some, or all of the above text may have originally been published by HDRA/Garden Organic ( and is reproduced here, with their kind permission.