Garden Layout: Form and Function

French medieval garden Bios Richeux via

I have been intently reading Susan Campbell’s book Charleston Kedding, A History of Kitchen Gardening which chronicles the changes in one English estate’s kitchen gardening practice from the 1630’s into the 1990’s.  Campbell extensively researched english gardening practices over a fourteen year period, and provides a plethora of knowledge regarding monastic and medieval gardening techniques.

The sections regarding garden layout were particularly helpful for our project.  Campbell highlights the importance of a water supply in early gardens, when hoses were not to be found.  Because of this a water source was often found either at the highest point in the garden, or at its center, to make irrigation an easier task.  Aaron, another member of our research team mentioned an interest in raised vegetable beds ( ) , these beds, also known as ados were also key to simple irrigation.  This method used in English monastic gardens,  was first documented in the Roman agricultural system.

The gardener could easily divert water (from its high location) to the beds that required a good soak by creating small dams and letting gravity do the rest of the work.  A manure pile was often located close to the water source so “moisture oozing from it could be diverted into the water channels”(Campbell, 35).

An example of a centrally located watersource in a raised be garden can be found here ( ) at Penn State’s Mediaval Garden Center Website.

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1 Response to Garden Layout: Form and Function

  1. Aaron Drysdale says:

    I love the idea of incorporating this passive irrigation system into the design, if at all possible.

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