• Garden history: Gardens by the Season

    by  • June 5, 2013 • Garden, History, Uncategorized

    I learned Latin names of plants from my mother at an early age and become a logophile, a lover of words, especially gardening terms and names of plants. I love the richness of all the local and ancient names of flowers and plants. In this charming essay, you’ll find a schedule of bloom that, if followed, will give you Spring Forever.  Then, we can apply the concept to our own gardens, as different as they are.

    The idea of successive bloom, or garden color at least in California, is one I know I should consider more.  Often we forget about planning for Fall color and neglect to plant bulbs or divide iris when the ground is so hard in Fall.  Things t think about.

    The Renaissance Garden

    The Renaissance Garden

    Francis Bacon

    Francis Bacon, (1561-1626), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, & author, wrote in his 1625 Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall in the essay entitled Of Gardens. Bacon had inherited his father’s estate at Gorhambury in Hertfordshire in 1602. He gardened there & his notes outlining a scheme to make a four-acre water garden still exist in the British Museum. His essay on gardens coincided with the new North American settlements along the Atlantic coast.

    Of Gardens: Gardens by the Season

    GOD Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man; …  I do hold it in the royal ordering of Gardens, there ought to be Gardens for all the months in the year, in which, severally, things of beauty may be then in season.

    For December, and January, and the latter part of November, you must take such things as are green all winter: Holly, Ivy, Bays, Juniper, Cypress-trees, Yew, Pineapple-trees; Fir-trees, Rosemary, Lavender; Periwinkle, the white, the purple, and the blue; Germander, Flags, Orange-trees, Lemon-trees, and Myrtles, if they be stoved; and Sweet Marjoram, warm set.

    There followeth, for the latter part of January and February, the Mezereon-tree, which then blossoms: Crocus Vernus, both the yellow and the gray; Primroses, Anemones, the early Tulip, the Hyacinthus Orientalis, Chamairis Fritellaria.

    For March, there come Violets, especially the single blue, which are the earliest; the yellow Daffodil, the Daisy, the Almond-tree in blossom, the Peach-tree in blossom, the Cornelian-tree in blossom, Sweet-Briar.

    Robin flyingIn April follow the double white Violet, the Wallflower, the Stock-Gffliflower, the Cowslip, Flower-de-Luces and Lilies of all natures; Rosemary-flowers, the Tulip, the double Peony, the pale Daffodil, the French Honeysuckle, the Cheery-tree in blossom, the Damascene’ and Plum-trees in blossom, the White Thom in leaf, the Lilac-tree.

    In May and June come Pinks of all sorts, specially the Blush-Pink; Roses of all kinds, except the Musk, which comes later; Honeysuckles, Strawberries, Bugloss, Columbine, the French Marygold, Flos Africanus, Cherry-tree in fruit, Ribes, Figs in fruit, Rasps, Vine-flocvers, Lavender in flowers, the sweet Satyrian, with the white flower; Herba Muscaria, Lilium, Convallium, the Apple-tree in blossom.

    In July come Gillyflowers of all varieties, Musk Roses, the Lime-tree in blossom, early Pears, and Plums in fruit, Genitings, Codlins.

    In August come Plums of all sorts in fruit, Pears, Apricots, Barberries, Filberts, Musk-Melons, Monks-hoods, of all colours.

    In September come Grapes, Apples, Poppies of all colours, Peaches, Melocotones, Nectarines, Cornelians, Wardens, Quinces.

    In October, and the beginning of November, come Services, Medlars, Bullaces, Roses cut or removed to come late, Hollyoaks, and such like.

    These particulars are for the climate of London; but my meaning is perceived, that you may have ver perpetuum, as the place affords.


    Note: ver perpetuum meaning a constant succession of forms throughout the year to beautify the garden, or in Latin, Spring Forever.

    It’s fascinating to me to read accounts of the enjoyment of gardening so long ago, proving that people are much more alike, even through the ages, than they are different. A comforting thought. ~~ Sue




    Photo: NTNU University Museum Botanical gardens


    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.