The Garden at Vaucresson Manor

A 16th Century Knot Garden

Sage, yr 2000

This garden project was begun in the fall of 1997, when the property at the corner of South Glenwood Avenue and Canedy St. in Springfield, Illinois was purchased by a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a "Living History" club dedicated to re-enacting and re-creating the lifestyles of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The garden is modeled after style of gardening common to manors in France and England during the 14th-16thcenturies referred to as a "Knot Garden" or "Parterre".



The Pattern (measures 24' x 35')

Originally, only 3/4 of the garden was done in the Parterre style, with the remainder done as a rowed vegetable bed. The conversion of the row area to parterre style was begun in the fall of 1999 and  completed in the Spring of 2000 so that the entire garden is now in the Knot-work pattern.  In the summer of 2001 fine gravel was obtained for the paths, to provide the contrast to the dark compost and green plants that makes the pattern easily visible, an effect which is even more attractive from the upper level of the house's rear stairs.


The plants in the garden are primarily those common to the Renaissance garden. Around the center of the pattern are the kitchen herbs. On the outer borders of the knot are flowers, both ornamental and medicinal. The two center circles hold the kitchen garden, with a variety of vegetables and leaf greens. Certain of the vegetable plants, such as the tomatoes, hot peppers, and squash are 'New World" vegetables (plants brought in from the Americas to Europe at the end of the Renaissance) and were once thought to be poisonous, a mis-understanding which caused them to only slowly come into use in Italy and France in the very late 16th and early 17th centuries.  Many of the rest of the vegetable plants come from seeds purchased from garden centers selling 'heirloom' seeds, seeds whose origins and growth are as close to plants of the period as can be found since modern horticultural science has developed plants with larger and more regular fruits and flowers than those familiar to our ancestors.

The garden in May 2001

The raised bed in the center of the garden is a recreation of the garden seat that often appeared in Renaissance gardens.  It is planted in pennyroyal - a low growing member of the mint family that holds up well to being sat upon and releases a pleasant fragrance upon crushing. Pennyroyal was often used as a vermifuge (insect repellant) in the Middle Ages. Visitors to the garden will be able to take their ease at the heart of the garden and enjoy it's comfort just like a noble of the 16th Century would have.

The arbor at the East end of the garden supports both wine grapes and hops for eventual use in brewing and vinting. The arbor, originally in place elsewhere in the yard, was moved into the garden in the Spring of 2001, as part of an overall attempt to eventually block the view of the alley (and dumpster) beyond.

The garden in Sept 2001

about the gardener

A partial list of the plants grown:

  1. Asparagus p
  2. Astilbe p
  3. Basil a
  4. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) p
  5. Chamomile p
  6. Chervil a
  7. Chives p
  8. Cilantro a
  9. Dill a
  10. Echinacea (purple coneflower) p
  11. Greek Oregano (Oreganum sativa) p
  12. Hyssop p
  13. Iris, Bearded p
  14. Lavendar p
  15. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) p
  16. Lupins p
  17. Parsley b
  18. Peppermint (Mentha piperata) p
  19. Pinks (gillyflower) (Dianthus) p
  20. Sage (Salvia officinalis) p
  21. Shallots b
  22. Shasta Daisy p
  23. Shrub Rose p
  24. Strawberries p
  25. Thyme a
  26. Woodruff p
  27. Yarrow p



    The letters 'p' and 'a' stand for: Perennial (will come back every year), and Annual (needs to be replanted each year).