Hidden Secrets of Bolton Castle’s Herb Garden

Nestled in the hills of Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, the gardens at Bolton Castle are a testament to the castle’s history, complemented by some small 21st century designs.

Mary Queen of Scots came here from Carlisle Castle and was held here for around six months before being moved further south.

She may have looked down at the gardens of Bolton Castle and noticed little difference in the plantings today. Much of what we can see today is thanks to gardener Elizabeth Carter, who has been working at the castle since 2015.

After an archaeological survey in 1994, the heritage of the Middle Ages was restored and the design followed the principles of medieval gardening as much as possible. The original garden covered nearly 50 acres overlooking Wensleydale’s ancient woodland. Over the years the gardens have evolved to suit every castle owner.

They were reinstated by Lord Bolton following an archaeological survey in 1994, recognizing the medieval heritage in the design and following the principles of medieval horticulture as much as possible. The castle is now divided into walled sections and overlooks a maze, a small but perfectly formed vineyard, the Mariengarten (or Catholic Garden) planted with traditional flowering plants associated with Our Lady, and the Dyers’ Garden with a range of plants for dyeing fabrics; and the sunny herb garden with culinary and medicinal herbs, which has now benefited from the attention of gardener Elizabeth.

Built 600 years ago by Sir Richard Le Scrope as a luxurious estate, Bolton Castle is one of the best preserved medieval castles in the country. It is uniquely still in the private ownership of Lord Bolton, a direct descendant of Sir Richard.

Elizabeth’s professional career focused on music and art before changing directions and starting a complementary therapy business. This included her registration as an advanced and leading practitioner in the Bach Flower medicinal system. Elizabeth’s zeal in reviving the herb gardens has been nothing short of ironclad and she looks forward to sharing her knowledge with visitors.

York Press: View of the planting from aboveView of the planting from above (picture: included)

Tom Orde-Powlett, whose family owns the Bolton Estate, which includes Bolton Castle, recognizes that Elizabeth’s work was a labor of love.

“Now these unique garden rooms truly reflect the lives, needs and beliefs of their medieval rulers through the ages. They are a window to the world of everyone who lived here,” he says.

Elizabeth certainly felt the pull of the story and the project took more years than she imagined, resulting in the herb gardens now being laid out as a ‘physical garden’ with over 100 different species of plants that may have originally been grown at Bolton Castle in the Middle Ages.

In order to pass on her knowledge beyond the castle walls, Elizabeth has created an extensive A to Z herbal encyclopedia on the castle website, which any herbalist and planter can find commendable. She did thorough research on medieval structures, drawing on information from hundreds of websites, books and manuscripts, as well as the history of the castle. The result is a garden that works visually for those who have minimal plant knowledge but value color and unusual plants, and also for those curious to learn more about the history of plants and their uses, and a Garden that offers a story to each plant, seed, leaf and root.

“I became interested in what would grow in a medieval garden and that was the start of years of fascinating exploration and research that led to what we have achieved at the castle today,” says Elizabeth.

“My aim was to keep the planting consistent with the period in which the castle was inhabited – from 1399 to the late 17th century – and to build on the work carried out when the gardens were restored by Baron Bolton in 1995 were created.”

York Press: The Mary Jane GardenThe Mary Jane Garden (Image: Included)

Elizabeth firmly believes that we are walking in the footsteps of our horticultural ancestors, and this viewpoint offers gardeners a different way of looking at plants in the light of the ancient wisdom of herbal medicine. She hopes that the redesign of this ancient herb garden will inspire visitors to reflect on the use of historically popular herbs such as feverfew (Leonurus cardiaca) and vervain (Verbena officinalis). However, not as a substitute for traditional medicines, but as a way to grow both unusual and useful plants in your own garden.

Despite the protective garden walls, the gardens of Bolton Castle had to be planted with hardy plants that could withstand driving rain, wind and the scorching sun. With no additional protection other than sprigs of hazel woven into the flowerbeds, the herbs had to withstand the howling Wensleydale wind and the often relentless summer sun reflected off the stone walls. Elizabeth notes that medieval gardens would generally have been planted with lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris), lilies (Lilium), tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), sweet violet (Viola odorata), primroses (Primula vulgaris), and mandrake (Mandragora officinarum). and Red Cabbage (Tanacetum balsamita), all of which can be found in Bolton Castle’s herb garden.

Laid out as a medicinal garden means that the herb garden has beds dedicated to the different healing properties of the plants that were formerly researched and used by doctors and healers, most likely the monks who resided in the castle. Here you will find more than 100 different plants, from sea holly (Eryngium maritimum) and skullcap (Scutellaria galericulata), which help with nerves and emotions, to common lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis), white horehound (Marrubium vulgare) and liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). ) in the breathing bed. The “Bed of Wounds” includes good King Henry (Chenopodium Bonus-Henricus), self-healer (Prunella vulgaris), sawweed (Serratula tinctoria), and woodruff (Galium odoratum), a particularly popular herb for applying to cuts and wounds – regularly ancient battlefields (no doubt useful during the castle’s turbulent history).

York Press: Elizabeth takes care of her plantsElizabeth takes care of her plants (Image: Included)

Elizabeth’s research also inspired her to create flower beds dedicated to “Myth and Magic” and “Poisons and Plague”. In the Middle Ages, a marigold (Calendula officinalis) amulet was worn around the neck to protect the wearer from the plague, and the Bump Bugloss (Echium vulgare) was believed to heal a wounded or broken heart. Two new beds are currently being built, one dedicated to the Doctrine of Signatures and the other to Nicolas Culpeper. The former was an early medical system in which plants were believed to resemble the part of the body they could heal, such as eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) used to improve vision. The latter celebrates one of the most famous herbalists of the 17th century, who, through his book The Complete Herbal, which is still in print today, made contemporary medical knowledge accessible to the masses and assigned herbs to the Earth, Sun, Moon and Mercury, Venus, Mars , Saturn and Jupiter.

This article first appeared in Yorkshire Life magazine. The May issue of Yorkshire Life is available now and is available from newsagents and supermarkets across Yorkshire and from magsdirect.co.uk.

Subscribe at greatbritishlife.co.uk/subscribe/yorkshire/

https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/23529638.hidden-secrets-herb-garden-bolton-castle/?ref=rss Hidden Secrets of Bolton Castle’s Herb Garden


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