English Gardens during the Reign of Edward I
The reign of Edward I allowed landowners to turn their attention to something other than defense and safety. As within the castle the wealthy lord sought to embellish the great hall, which often took the place of the ancient keep, with fine tapestry, richly carved furniture, magnificently carved garden statuary, large functional and ornate garden fountains, so outside as well he strove to decorate the gardens with fountains, arbors, and perhaps a maze. The improvement in husbandry and horticulture was as satisfactory as the advance made in the fine arts. Here the influence of the king was specially felt. Though engaged in war or busy with legislative cares, Edward I found time to attend to the cultivation of his gardens and the stocking of his vineyards and orchards. Fruit and forest trees, shrubs, and flowers introduced from the continent were naturalized in the king's gardens, fed by plentiful water from the fountains, or in those of the nobility and the larger religious houses.
New varieties of fruit were introduced at this time. Figs, oranges, lemons, citrons, almonds, and even olives are noted among the fruits growing in the gardens of some of the large land-owners. These natives of a southern climes could not have ripened their fruits unless in exceptionally warm seasons or by means of hothouses, with water supplied by the local fountains; however, the evidence that they existed is overwhelming. All classes of people now seem to have had pleasure gardens. Those belonging to the king were principally in the neighborhood of London, at Charing, Westminster, Clarendon, the Tower, and at Windsor Castle.
In them grew peaches (first mentioned, in 1276), pears and apples (of which several new varieties were introduced), quinces and strawberries (well known to the Anglo-Saxons) and gooseberries (which seem to have been a novelty). There were also royal vineyards at Windsor and Westminster. Décor included ornate fountains, and bas relief garden statues. One of the great nobles, De Lacey, Earl of Lincoln, cultivated extensive market gardens on the top of Holborn Hill and received a considerable revenue from them.
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