"The kitchen or utilitarian garden, in contrast with the pleasure garden, contained food and medicinal plants as well as plants for strewing on floors, making hand waters, quelling insects and other household purposes." (p. 27)Most every manor, abbey, and great estate would have utilitarian gardens, demesne farm fields, and perhaps woods and even vineyards or orchards in addition to some sort of pleasure garden. (Vineyards were less prevalent and less successful in Northern Europe than Southern Europe but grape vine plantings were useful for the production of verjuice and perhaps grapes for eating even when wine quality was not achieved.)
Hill sums up the 'forms of the Inclosures' which he says the ancients invented:
"..First, the skilful and wary Husbandmen in time past, being those of good abilty, built them walls about of Free-stone artly laid, and mortered together, and some did with baked bricke like handled. Others of lesser ability, and of meaner sort, formed them inclosures, with stones handsomely laid one upon another with morter orclay; and some of them couched the broad salt sontesk, with other bigge and large stones (in like order about). . . but very many of the baser and poorer sort, made them fences and wals about, with mudde of the ditch, dung, chaffe, and straws cut short, and wel mixed together. Others there were, which with bigge Canes set upright, by smal poles bound together, so fenced their garden plot, in handsome manner round about. Some also with young Willow trees, set by certaine distances, and the drie black thorne (purchased from the wood) being bound in (between the spaces) so framed their inclosure. . ."He also reports on pole fences, hedges, banks and ditches.
There is ample evidence in the pictoral representations of plants in
pots either outdoors or in the house (in addition to the works cited
below, see The Italian Renaissance Interior: 1400-1600, by
Peter Thornton, Abrams 1991) Gillyflowers in pots appear to have been
especially popular in that period, both indoors and out. Potted plants
and trees are depicted placed on top
of grassy beds in gardens and entryways-- these may have been tender
perennials or fruit trees.
Serena da Riva has an article under construction on medieval container gardening, at: http://www.serenadariva.com/SCAGardeningPages/index.htm
Pots made of ceramic seem to have been the norm, usually in the
'Italian' flowerpot style, or in the shape of urns, with either wide
tops or narrow. Plants are also pictured growing from wide-mouthed jugs
This sketch based on Carpaccio's Dream of St. Ursula shows two styles of planting urns. The railing at the top of the second pot is a support for the carnations being grown inside.
Woven baskets are shown being used to transport plants from one place to another.
Potting plants was used to extend the season, as well. Thomas Hill points out that you can start your cucumbers early if you plant them out in pots, leaving them out all day in warm weather and moving them into a warm shed at night.
The Gardiner which would possesse Cucumbers timely and very soone, yea and all the yeare through, ought (after the minde of the Neopolitane [Rutilius?]) in the beginning of the the spring, to fill up old worne baskets and earthen pans without bottomes, with fine sifted earth tempered afore with fat dung, and to moisten somewhat the earth with water, after the seeds bestowed in theses, which done when warme and sunnie daies succeede, or a gentle raine falling, the baskets or pans with the plants, are then to be set abroad, to be strengthened and cherished by the sun and small showres; but the evening approching, these in all the cold season ought to be set under some warm cover or house in the ground, to be defended from the frosts and cold aire, which thus standing under a cover, or in the warme house, moisten gently with water sundry times, and these on such wise handle, untill all the Frosts, Tempests, and cold aire be past, as commonly the same ceaseth not with us, till abut the middest of May.
After these, when opportunity or an apt day serveth the Gardener shall bestow the Baskets or Pannes unto the brimme, or deeper in the earth, well laboured or trimmed before, with the rest of the diligenceto be exercised, as before uttered; which done, the Gardener shall enjoy very forward and timelier Cowcumbers than any others.
This matter may be compassed, both easier, in shorter time, and with lesser travell, if the owner, after the cutting of the waste branches, doth set them in well labored beds, for these in far shorter time and speedier, doe yeeld faire Cucumbers.
The one thing I think necessary to be learned, for the avoiding of the daily labour and paines, in the setting abroad and carrying into the house, either halfe tubs, baskets, or earthen bannes, which on this wise by greater facility may be done, if so be the Gardener bestwo the vessells with the plants in Wheel-barrowes, or such like with Wheeles; for these, to mens reason, causeth marvellous easiness, doth in the bestowing abroad, and carrying againe into the warme house, as often as need shall require.
The young plants may be defended from cold and boisterous windes, yea, frosts, the cold aire, and hot Sunne, if Glasses made for the onely purpose, be set over them, which on such wise bestowed on the beds, yeelded in a manner to Tiberius Caesar, Cucumbers all the year, in which he took great delight, as after the worthy Columella, the learned Plinie hath committed the same to memory, which every day obtained the like, as he writeth."
Tender perennials and Mediterranean trees such as the orange, bay and pomegranate were sometimes managed this way in Northern Europe during the Renaissance, raised in tubs and brought into a shed, sometimes a heated shed, in the winter. Le Menagier says to bring violets inside in pots for the winter.
"The ground is divided into beds, which, however, should be so contrived that the hands of those who weed them can easily reach the middle of their breadth, so that those who are going after weeds may not be forced to tread on the seedlings, but rather may make their way along paths and weed first one and then the other half of the bed."Landsberg suggests:
"We can deduce that the minimum bed and path width would be four to five feet and one foot respectively. These beds could be simply paced out to any length that fitted the small domestic garden. In large institution gardens. . . a subdivision into perches was most likely to be used. . . subdivisions of an eighty-four foot line can also be made. . . One way of subdividing a perch of 16 1/2 feet is to lay out three beds of four feet in width, two intervening paths of wone foot, and a two-foot-six access path between one perch and the next, wide enough for barrows. Plots could be in strips of several perches in length, but one perch width is the optimum for good access from the sides."
Hill suggests beds of "one foot of breadth, and into what length the owner or gardener will. . . let the pathes between the beds be of such areasonable breadth (as a mans foot) that they passing along by, may freely weed the one half first, and next the other half left to weed."
Parkinson suggests that beds be edged with lead "cut to the breadth of foure fingers, bowing the lower edge a little outward," or "oaken inch boards four or five inches broad," or shank bones of sheep, or tiles, or "round whitish or blewish pebble stones of some reasonable proportion and bignesse." He says, with distaste, that jawbones were sometimes used as edgings in the Low Countries.
In any case, beds were almost universally rectangular, and arranged in
aregular pattern, either windowpane check or checkerboard. The fashion
putting a central circular feature with semi-rectangular beds with
cut out appears, according to Roy Strong, to have been introduced after
1600. However, it can't have been too long after 1600, as Markham's English Husbandman (from the early
1600s) gives illustrations of both this style and triangular beds.
Tables also appear, as in one illustration of the Garden of
where the Virgin has at her elbow a marble table containing a glass of
something to drink and some snacks. Dining al fresco was a popular
summer activity, and there are many illustrations of couples and groups
eating, drinking, and/or playing games at tables and benches set up in
Naomi Miller, in her article "Medieval Garden Fountains" in Medieval Gardens, Dumbarton Oaks, 1986, describes the typical fountain before the vogue for classical statuary beginning in the 14th century:
"...Throughout the late Middle Ages, whethere the fountain was placed at the center of a town square, a monastic cloister, or a Garden of Love, its form remained relatively unchanged. Defined by a circular, polygonal, or quadrilobe basin, it was rooted to the ground or raised upon a basin or steps. Water usually passed through a column; sometimes it rose from the center of the first basin to support a second one and was dispensed by one or more spouts. A more imposing fountain would usually have secondary basins used a troughs, provisions for washing, and even fish tanks. Spouts in the form of lions' heads or grotesques decorating the column were commonplace." (p. 152).
"Hyssop, thyme, and cotton lavender, which were used in the early mazes, are small-- the grow, at the most, knee-high. Mazes made with these are therefore to be surveyed as well as walked in. Their color should be remembered, with box and yew also recommended: these were invaluable as evergreens. . Charles Estienne in his Agriculture et Maison Rustique recommends. . . 'and one bed of camomile to make seats and labyrinths, which they call Daedalus.' In the first English version of this work, translated by Richard Surflet in 1600. . .'these sweet herbes . . . some of them upon seats, and others in mazes made for the pleasing and recreating of the sight.'" Thacker, The History of Gardens.
"The garden of the Arden peasant's holding was an important, if poorly documented, resource. Apple, cherry, plum and pear trees seem to have been common on many holdings, as in 1463 at Erdington, where nearly all peasant holdings contained orchards. The range of crops cultivated on the peasant's curtilage is poorly recorded, but the garden of Richard Sharpmore of Erdington was probably typical. In 1380 trespassing pigs ruined his vegetables, grass, beans and peas."
-- Andrew Watkins, "Peasants in Arden", in Richard Britnell, ed. Daily Life in the Late Middle Ages, (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998), p 94.
Description of the grounds of the Cistercian Abbey of Clairvaux in the 12th century:
"Within the enclosure of this wall stand many and various trees, prolific in bearing fruit. It resembles a wood, and since it is near the cell of the sick brethren, it offers some comfort to their infirmities, while providing at the same time a spacious place for those who walk, and a sweet place where those who are overheated can rest. Where the orchard ends the garden begins. Here too a lovely prospect presents itself to the infirm brethren; they can sit on the green edge of the great fountain, and watch the little fishes challenging one another, as it were, to war-like encounters, as they meet and play in the water."
(quoted by Paul Meyvaert, in "The Medieval Monastic Garden," Medieval Gardens, Dumbarton Oaks, 1986)
"During the twelfth century, the garden of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist at Castle Donington, Leicestershire, had, indeed, produced such 'powerful herbs and roots' that a local physician had gone there to seek a cure for his own tertian fever. Following a practice discernible at all levels of society, from the peasantry to the baronage, the cultivation of many hospital gardens appears to have been undertaken by women. Since it was such a large and affluent institution, the Savoy could afford to retain a gardener, who took his orders from the matron, as well as the physician and the surgeon. He grew herbs, fruits, and other plants 'for the relief and refreshment of the poor who flock to this hospital.' These were used in cooking, for the preparation of medicines and medicinal baths and for other 'health giving purposes' which probably included the production of scented candles and fumigants for dispelling the miasma of disease. . . "
"In smaller houses, such as St. Giles' Hospital, Norwich, the sisters themselves grew and processed whatever plants might be needed. Their walled garden, with its thatched pentice, was but one of several green spaces in the precinct, which included the master's ornamental garden, a great garden where trees and vegetables were cultivated, a pond yard, a piggery and a kitchen garden. During the fourteenth century surplus apples, pears, onions and leeks were sold on the open market as a cash crop; other produce included saffron, garlic, hemp and henbane. . . the hospital precincts also incorporated a great meadow, with its prelapsarian 'paradyse garden'. . ."
"At the London hospital of St. Mary Bishopgate the sisters lodged in segregated quarters . . . which gave access to their own garden. Elderly corrodians, such as Joan Lunde, who lived in a 'celle sett yn the sauthe part of the [in]ffermory' of St. Giles' Hospital, Beverly, were anxious to secure such a source of 'greate yerthely comfort'. In 1500-1 she complained to the Court of Chancery that, notwithstanding the money she had spent on maintaining the garden which formed part of her corrody, it had been given to another sister. . . The fitter and more mobile residents of English almshouses, such as those at Ewleme and Arundel, were expected to weed and tidy precinct gardens, but we have little evidence of their use by convalescent patients. At the leper hospital run by St. Albans Abbey inmates were who had been phlebotomized were permitted to rest in a private garden, but many of them appear to have been Benedictines, already accustomed to the prophylactic regimen of the monastic infirmary."
-- Carole Rawcliffe, "Hospital Nurses and their Work", in Richard Britnell, ed. Daily Life in the Late Middle Ages, (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1998), pp 58-61.
From The Decameron (Bocaccio, mid-14th century):
"After this they went into a walled garden beside the mansion, which at first glance seemed to them so beautiful that they began to examine it more carefully in detail. On its outer edges and through the centre ran wide walks as straight as arrows, covered with pergolas of vines which gave every sign of bearing plenty of grapes that year. . . . The sides of these walks were almost closed in with jasmin and red and white roses, so that it was possible to walk in the garden in a perfumed and delicious shade, untouched by the sun, not only in the early morning, but when the sun was high in the sky. . . In the midst of this garden was something which they praised even more than all the rest; this was a lawn of very fine grass, so green that it seemed nearly black, colored with perhaps a thousand kinds for flowers. This lawn was shut in with very green citron and orange trees bearing at the same time both ripe fruit and young fruit and flowers, so that they pleased the sense of smell as well as charmed the eyes with shade. And in the midst of this lawn was a fountain of white marble most marvellously carved. A figure standing on a column in the midst of this fountain threw water high up in the air, which fell back unto a crystal-clear basin with a delicious sound. . . the water which overflowed. . . ran out of the lawn by some hidden way where it reappeared again in cunningly made little channels which surrounded the lawn."
The park at Hesdin, northern France, created in 1288, included:"Castles, manors and great monastic establishments would have both small herbers for useful and decorative plants and also grander enclosed areas in which walks could be shaded by trees and where there were artificial pools for fish as well as natural streams. . . Geoffrey de Montbray. . . came back to Normandy to sow acorns and grow oaks, beeches and other forest trees inside a park enclosed by a double ditch and a palisade" (Hobhouse)
"a menagerie, aviaries, fishponds, beautiful orchards, an enclosed garden named Le Petit Paradis, and facilities for tournaments. The guests were beckoned across a bridge by animated rope-operated monkey statutes (kitted up each year with fresh badger-fur coats) to a banqueting pavilion which was set amongst pools." (Landsberg, p. 22)Compare this prescription from Crescenzi:
"Of the gardens of royal personages and powerful and wealthy lords. And inasmuch as wealthy persons can by their riches and power obtain such things as please them and need only science and art to create all they desire. For them, therefore, let a great meadow be chosen, arranged, and ordered, as here shall be directed. Let it be a place where the pleasant winds blow and where there are fountains of waters; it should be twenty 'Journaux' or more in size according to the will of the Lord and it should be enclosed with lofty walls. Let there be in some part a wood of divers trees where the wild beasts may find a refuge. In another part let there be a costly pavilion where the king and his queen or the lord and lady may dwell, when they wish to escape from wearisome occupations and where they may solace themselves.""Let there be shade and let the windows of the pavilion look out upon the garden but not exposed to the burning rays of the sun. Let fish-pools be made and divers fishes placed therein. Let there also be hares, rabbits, deer and such-like wild animals that are not beasts of prey. And in the trees near the pavilion let great cages be made and therein place partridges, nightingales, blackbirds, linnets, and all manner of singing birds. Let all be arranged so that the beasts and the birds may easily be seen from the pavilion. Let there also be made a pavilion with rooms and towers wholly made of trees...”Petrus Crescentiis, Opus Ruralium Commodorum. 1305.
Master Johannes the Black of the Athanor has posted an article, " THE
NINTH CENTURY GARDEN OF THE
'CAPITULARE DE VILLES' OF CHARLEMAGNE (ca.800)" at http://www.tirbriste.org/dmir/Herbal/1408.html which attempts to list all the suggested plants from the Capitulare.
One of the best modern resources for information about medieval plants is the Blog of the Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum, NYC) Gardens, The Medieval Garden Enclosed: http://blog.metmuseum.org/cloistersgardens/
Charles Estienne in his Agriculture et Maison Rustique recommends the cultivation of many rows of scented herbs, 'both for the reserve of your scented garden, for your hedges, and for your winter stews;' for example, sage and hyssop, thyme, lavender, rosemary, marjoram, costmary, basil, balm, 'and one bed of camomile to make seats and labyrinths, which they call Daedalus.'
Walafrid Strabo lists: Sage, Rue, Southernwood, Wormwood, Horehound, Fennel, Iris, Lovage, Chervil, Lily, Poppy, Clary, Mint, Pennyroyal, Celery, Betony, Agrimony, Tansy, Catmint, Rose, as well as Gourds, Mellons, and Radish.
Hills' The Gardener's Labyrinth lists (for a kitchen or physic garden):
Colewort, Beete, Arage [Orach], Sperage [Asparagus], Spinage [Spinach], Sorrell, Pimpernell, Lovage, Buglosse, Marigolde, Parsely, Tyme, Mints and Holihoke [Hollyhock], Mallows, Artochoke, Endive, Succory, Lettuce, Purselane, Chervils, Smallage [Wild Celery], Targon, Cresses, Bucks horne, Strawberry, Mustard seed, Leeks and Cives [Chives], Onion, Garlike, Scallion, Squill Onion, Saffron, Navews, Rape, Turnips, Radish (long and round), Parsnips, Carrets, Poppie, Cucumber, Gourd, Pompons, Mellons, musk Mellons, Blessed Thistle, Angelica, Velerian, Bitony, Lovage, Elecampane.Crisp says that Capitulare lists Lilies, Roses, Fenugreek, Costmary, Sage, Rue, Southernwood, Cucumber, Melon, Bottle Gourd, Bean, Cummin, Rosemary, Caraway, Chick pea, Squill, Orris, Tarragon, Anise, Bitter apple, Chicory, Herb William, Laser-wort, Lettuce, Fennel flower, White pepper?, Garden Cress, Butter bur, Pennyroyal, Alexanders, Parsley, Celery, Lovage, Savin, Dill, Fennel, Endive, Dittany, Mustard, Summer Savory, Water Mint, Horse Mint, Tansy, Catmint, Feverfew, Poppy, Beetroot, Asarabacca, Marsh Mallow, Mallow, Carrot, Parsnip, Orache, Blite, Kohlrabi?, Cabbage, Onion, Leek, Radish, Garlic, Madder, Cardoon, Bean, Field or Grey Pea, Coriander, Chervil, Wild caper, Clary, and Houseleek, as well as trees of apples, pears, plums, service tree, medlars, chestnuts, peaches, quince, hazel, almond, mulberry, bay, stone pine, fig, walnut, cherries.
The Unicorn Tapestries include campion, bistot, orchis, lords & ladies, violas, sweetrocket, carnations, white lilies, holy thistle, leopard's bane, stock and lady's mantle. (Hobhouse)
The flowerbeds of the gardens of the Hotel de Pol in the 1370s included 'roses, rosemary, lavender, wallflowers, marjoram, and sage as well as strawberries', when it was refurbished in 1398, 'grape vines. . . pear and apple trees, cherries and plums as well as eight "green bay trees"' as well as roses, lily bulbs, and flag irises. (Hobhouse)
Crescenzi's gardens of the middle size should be 'surrounded by
ditches and hedges of thorns or roses. . . . in warm places make a
hedge of pomegranates and in cold places of nuts or plums and quinces'.
Hill gives directions for creating a quickset hedge using seeds of
Briers (Eglantine roses), brambles, the white Thorne, Gooseberry and
Barberry trees, mixed with vetch-meal and smeared into old untwisted
rope, thus making a sort of 16th century seed-tape. For short
hedges/edgings inside the garden Parkinson suggests thrift, germander,
hyssop, marjoram, savory, thyme, lavender cotton, juniper, yew, and
box; for larger hedges Hill and Parkison suggest privet, sweetbriar,
white thorn, roses; also lavender, rosemary, sage, southernwood,
lavender cotton, or
Cornell (cherry trees).
The visitor to Hampton Court (1599) describes it: "The hedges and surrounds were of hawthorn, bush firs, ivy, roses, juniper, holly, English or common elm, box and other shrubs, very gay and attractive."
Thomas Hill gives instructions for making a sort of 'seed tape' for
by slightly unplaiting an old rope, and mixing shrub seeds with tar and
it into the rope. Mixed hedges where shrubs of quicker growth were
with slower growing ones in order to provide a succession growth, were
"Trees are to be planted in their rows, pears, apples, and palms, and in warm places, lemons. Again mulberries, cherries, plums, and such noble trees as figs, nuts, almonds, quinces, and such-like, each according to their kinds, but spaced twenty feet apart more or less."He also suggests box, broom, cypress, dogwood, laburnum, rosemary, eonymous or spindle and tamarisk.
Albertus Magnus recommended:
He also suggested a lawn, a bench of flowering turf, seats in the center of the garden, and a fountain."every sweet smelling herb such as rue, and sage and basil, and likewise all sorts of flowers, as the violet, the columbine, lily, rose, iris and the like. . . sweet trees, with perfumed flowers and agreeable shade, like grapevines, pears, apples, pomegranates, sweet bay trees, cypresses and such like."
"There was very little evidence of the tools available, but I've found that the Romans had forks, a primitive spade, sickles, a variety of hoes, a dibber and an odd tool called a falx. The falx was the main tool for pruning, particularly in viniculture, throughout the medieval period. Most of the tools show up in Roman tombs along the Rhine, and any of them may have been in use in the Carolingian garden." -- personal communication
Hill, Thomas. The Gardener's Labyrinth: The First English Book on Gardening. ed. with an introduction by Richard Mabey. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.) Originally published 1577, this edition based on the 1652 ed.
Markham, Gervase. The English Husbandman. (NY: Garland Publishing, 1982). Originally published1613.
Le Menagier de Paris.A medieval home companion: Housekeeping in the fourteenth century. Translated and edited by Tania Bayard. (NY: HarperCollins, 1991)*
Palladius, Rutilius Taurus Aemilianus. Palladius On husbondrie. From the unique ms. of about 1420 A.D. in Colchester Castle. Ed. by the Rev. Barton Lodge. (London, Pub. for the Early English Text Society, by N. Trübner & Co., 1873 and 1879.) Early English Text Society series parts 52 and 72.
Parkinson, John. A Garden of Pleasant Flowers:Paradisi in Sole, Paradisus Terrestris. (NY: Dover, 1991). From the 1629 edition.
Plan of St. Gall, available online at http://www.stgallplan.org/en/
Strabo, Walafrid. Hortulus. Translated by Raef Payne. Commentary by Wilfrid Blunt. (Pittsburgh: Hunt Botanical Library, 1966)
Tusser, Thomas. His Good Points of Husbandry, 1557. Edited by Dorothy Hartley. (London: Country Life Limited, 1931)
History of Landscape Architecture ed. Kenneth Helphand. http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~helphand/ Note: lots of good pictures, especially in the five pages on Medieval Gardens, though watch out for modern illustrations mixed in.
The Medieval Health Handbook: Tacunium Sanitatis. ed. Luisa Cogliati Arano. (NY: George Braziller, 1976)
A medieval herbal. (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994)
Bayard, Tania. Sweet Herbs and Sundry Flowers: Medieval Gardens and the Gardens of the Cloisters.. (NY: Metropolitan Museum, ?)
Benson, Barbara. "Period Container Gardening", http://www.serenadariva.com/SCAGardeningPages/index.htm
Campbell, Susan. Charleston Kedding : a history of kitchen gardening. (London : Ebury Press, 1996) Second edition released as A History of Kitchen Gardening. Note: a good explanation of the development of kitchen gardening practices, though you'll have to read the whole book to find all the medieval and renaissance references.
Clarkson, Rosetta. Green Enchantment: The Golden Age of Herbs and Herbalists. (New York, Macmillan, 1940). ISBN: 0-02-009 461-2.
Clarkson, Rosetta E. Magic Gardens: A Modern Chronicle of Herbs and Savory Seeds. (NY: Macmillan, 1992 c. 1939)
Crisp, Frank, and Catherine Childs Paterson. Mediaeval gardens; flowery medes and other arrangements of herbs, flowers, and shrubs grown in the Middle Ages, with some account of Tudor, Elizabethan, and Stuart gardens. (New York: Hacker Art Books, 1966). Note: The best collection of illustrations of gardens available, plus a good selection of plant lists and analyses.
Dendle, Peter and Alain Touwaite. Health and Healing in the Medieval Garden. (Boydell & Brewer, 2008)
Dickson, J. H. and R.R. Mill, eds. Plants and people: economic botany in Northern Europe AD 800-1800 : symposium held at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 24-27 September, 1993. (Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 1994) published as Botanical Journal of Scotland, v. 46, pt. 4, 1994.
Farrar, Linda. Ancient Roman Gardens. (NY: Sutton, 2000).
Fisher, Celia. Flowers in medieval manuscripts. (Buffalo : University of Toronto Press, 2004.)
Harvey, John H. Mediaeval Gardens. (London: Batsford, 1981).
Harvey, John H. "Vegetables in the Middle Ages" Garden History 12 (2), p. 89-99, 1984.
Hobhouse, Penelope. Plants in Garden History: An Illustrated History of Plants and their Influence on Garden Styles from Ancient Egypt to the Present Day. (London: Pavilion, 1992). Note: includes material on Islamic as well as medieval gardens.
Landsberg, Sylvia. The Medieval Garden. (NY: Thames and Hudson, 1995). Note: an excellent summary of medieval gardens in general, with useful suggestions for re-creation.
Lazzaro, Claudia. The Italian Renaissance garden : from the conventions of planting, design, and ornament to the grand gardens of sixteenth-century Central Italy. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990) Note: includes beautiful pictures of extant examples of garden architecture, plans, etc.
MacDougall, Elisabeth B., ed. Medieval gardens. [Dumbarton Oaks Colloquium on the History of Landscape Architecture, IX]. (Washington, D.C. : Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1986)
MacBain, Brianna. "Recreating a Medieval Garden". In Stefan's Florilegium: http://www.florilegium.org/files/PLANTS/A-Med-Garden-art.text
McLean, Teresa. Medieval English Gardens.
(New York : Viking Press, 1981
Medieval Flower Garden (San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 1994) Note: a good, cheap source of illustrations with decent short text.
Moe, Dagfinn, James Dickson, and Per Magnus Jorgensen. Garden History: Garden plants, species, forms and varieties from Pompeii to 1800. Symposium held at the European University Centre for Cultural Heritage, Ravello, June 1991. PACT series, number 42, 1994.
Roe, Robin. "The Carolingian Garden," Tournaments Illuminated, issue. 134, spring 2000, pp 10-15.
Rohde, Eleanor Sinclair.The Scented Garden. (London: The Medici Society, 1989 first published 1931)
Stokstad, Marilyn, and Jerry Stannard. Gardens of the Middle Ages. (Lawrence : Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, 1983).
Strong, Roy. The Renaissance Garden in England.
(London: Thames and Hudson, 1979).
Thacker, Christopher. The History of Gardens. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1979.) Includes sections on Japanese, Chinese, and Islamic gardens as well as a section on 'Jokes and Puzzles'.
Brandt, Laurie. A Bibliography of material available on agricultural practices in the Middle ages. http://members.tripod.com/~brandtfamily/med_gardens_bib.htm
Center for Medieval Studies. "The Medieval Garden". http://www.psu.edu/dept/medieval/garden.html
Cordes, Les & Anne. "DESIGNING & PLANTING A KNOT GARDEN or BORDER." http://www.knot-herbs.co.uk/knot1/page4.html
Garland, Sarah. The Complete Book of Herbs and Spices: An illustrated guide to using culinary, aromatic, cosmetic and medicinal plants. (Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest, 1979)
Innes, Miranda, and Clay Perry. Medieval Flowers. (London: Kyle Cathie, 2002). Note: not recommended for its text, which is full of errors; the illustrations, however, are very nice.
Rohde, Eleanor Sinclair.The Old English Herbals. (NY: Dover, 1971 c1922) Note: mostly a bibliographic essay on herbals in period-- a good way to find more resources.
Newell, George. "History of Landscape Horticulture" (a webbed powerpoint presentation, useful for the photographs/illustrations) 7/15/2000. http://www.calpoly.edu/~gnewell/ehs122/pages/part1/
Blog of the Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum, NYC) Gardens, The Medieval Garden Enclosed: http://blog.metmuseum.org/cloistersgardens/
Gardens of earthly delight : sixteenth and seventeenth-century Netherlandish gardens ; April 3, 1986 - May 18, 1986. Kahren Jones Hellerstedt. Pittsburgh, Pa. : Frick Art Museum, c1986.
The Garden of Eden : the botanic garden and the re-creation of paradise. John Prest. New Haven : Yale University Press, c1981.
Ancient Roman villa gardens. Dumbarton Oaks Colloquium on the History of Landscape Architecture, X ; edited by Elisabeth Blair MacDougall. Washington, D.C. : Dumbarton Oaks, c1987.
The Italian garden. Dumbarton Oaks Colloquium on the History of Landscape Architecture (1st : 1971) Edited by David R. Coffin. Washington, Dumbarton Oaks, 1972.
Water in landscape architecture. Craig S. Campbell. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1978)
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The English garden. Illustrated from old prints, pictures and drawings, and from photos. by Will F. Taylor and others. Dutton, Ralph, 1898-1985. London, New York, Batsford 
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The Islamic garden. edited by Elisabeth B. MacDougall and Richard Ettinghausen. Dumbarton Oaks Colloquium on the History of Landscape Architecture (4th : 1974). Washington : Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, 1976..
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"There are, however, some places of no great utility or fruitfulness. . . these are what are called pleasure gardens. They are in fact mainly designed for the delight of the two senses, viz. sight and smell. . .[about the lawn] may be planted every sweet smelling herb such as rue, and sage and basil, and likewise all sorts of flowers, as the violet, the columbine, lily, rose, iris and the like. So that between these herbs and the turf, at the edge of the lawn set square, let therebe a higher bench of turf flowering and lovely; and somewhere in the middle provide seats so that men may sit down there to take their repose pleasurably when their senses need refreshment. Upon the lawn, too, against the heat of the sun, trees should be planted or vines trained, so that the lawn may have a delightful and cooling shade, sheltered by their leaves. For from theses trees shade is more sought after than fruit, so that not much trouble should be taken to dig about to manure them, for this might cause great damage to the turf. Care should also be taken that the trees are not too close together or too numerous, for cutting off the breeze may do harm to health. . . the trees should not be bitter ones whose shade gives rise to diseases, such as the walnut and some others; but let them be sweet trees, with perfumed flowers and agreeable shade, like grapevines, pears, apples, pomegranates, sweet bay trees, cypresses and such like."