Arthurian sites_0004One of the fun things I had to do while writing I, Morgana was to make a plan of a medieval garden for Glastonbury Priory. I envisioned a giant wheel with ‘spokes’ separating each different segment – for medicinal herbs, household plants, food, kitchen cookery, etc with herbers in the corner for the nuns’ contemplation and solitude ( planted with herbs and plants associated with the Virgin Mary) and with a fountain in the middle, fed by the rusty spring now seen in the Chalice Well Gardens (pictured left.)  There are paths between the spokes of the wheel but when Morgana walks widdershins she is able, with a chant and a magical object, to go to the inner heart of her garden where the Chalice Well becomes the scrying pool in which she sees visions of the future.  Making the garden was therapeutic for Morgana – but also a very important means of escape in that, through a seemingly impenetrable hedge and again with the magic learned from Merlin, and the sacred object stolen from him, she is able to pass into Otherworlds, including our own.  While writing The Janna Mysteries and also I, Morgana I’ve learned a lot about medieval plants and their uses, and my library is now stocked with such tomes as Anglo-Saxon Leechcraft, Culpeper and Gerard’s herbals, Hildegarde von Bingen’s therapies, the Trotula (a medieval text on gynaecology and childbirth) and even a special Cadfael’s garden and herbal remedy reference book.  One of the most useful books I found (after listening to a fascinating talk about medieval gardens) was In A Unicorn’s Garden by Judyth A. McLeod – there I found garden designs, medieval garden practices, lists of medieval plants grown for various purposes, plus a host of other things besides.  It’s subtitle is: ‘Recreating the mystery and magic of a medieval garden’ – so it was just perfect for me! Thoroughly recommended if you’re interested in this sort of thing.  (She is an Australian author and gardener and you can visit her at Honeysuckle Cottage in Kurrajong (Blue Mountains.)  Left:  A bush of rue (for repentance), photograph taken at the Botanic Garden in Oxford.DSCN0605

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