PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Arboretum Offers Slice Of Ancient Life Through Penn State Medieval Garden

If you missed out on the Renaissance Faire this year, a visit to the Penn State Medieval Garden might be the perfect way to end your semester.

The exhibit aims to show visitors a piece of real-life history, and the plants in the garden originate as far back as the fifth century. Each species served a unique role in medieval societies — people used the plants for aspects of daily life such as decoration, food, and medicine.

Curators document each plant closely on a day-to-day basis. Photographs and written observations provide information for data sheets on each plant, and you can find a description of each online.

Curators referred to ancient documents like Charlemagne’s Capitulare de villis, to get a gauge on the plant types common to the Medieval age. Plants like thyme and rosemary — species valuable to the modern foodie – even show up in such documents.

Not all of the plant species were valuable in daily life, however. In fact, members of the ancient societies regarded many of the plants as weeds. The Medieval Garden is also not meant to be a recreation of one specific garden; instead, it’s simply a dynamic collection.

Curators created the Medieval Garden in 1998. In 2009, they built the exhibit adjacent to the Arboretum. The garden currently include a Contemplation Garden and a Kitchen Garden, as well as an orchard full of plant species common to Medieval Europe.

The Contemplation Garden primarily serves as a place of escape from day-to-day responsibilities. This part of the typical exhibit nearly mirrors the design of the Garden of Eden – white plants symbolized the Virgin Mary and purity, while red plants symbolized the Blood of the Martyrs.

The fundamental purpose of the Kitchen Garden is to cultivate food, but the specific plants grown vary by region. This area of the garden also would have served medicinal purposes in the Medieval age. Thick bushes and hedges protected apple trees, medlar trees, cherry trees, and more from any animals that would have potentially fed on them.

About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a junior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected]



Reports: Tony Carr To Begin Professional Career In Italy

Tony Carr might have to wait a little longer than he had hoped to make his NBA debut.

Penn State Hockey’s Aarne Talvitie Showcases At Devils Development Camp

Penn State Hoops Releases 2018-19 Non-Conference Schedule

Forward Abdou Tsimbila Commits To Penn State Hoops

Penn State Volleyball Trio Representing U.S. At Pan-American Cup

Student Life

Penn State Student Dies Of Allergic Reaction To Peanuts

Max McGlinchey had just finished his freshman year studying finance.

Freshman 101: On-Campus Life

Student Farm To Commemorate Summer Solstice With Second Annual Celebration

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

‘Rathskeller’ Name Subject Of Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

The complaint cites that the business has been sold throughout the years and is not tied to that specific location.

Finance Committee Recommends Tuition Freeze For In-State Undergraduate Students

If it is approved by a full-Board vote Friday, the committee’s budget plan will freeze in-state undergraduate tuition for the first time since 2015.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Doggie’s Rathskeller And Garden Opens With Hopes Of Returning To Its Roots

The All-American Rathskeller is no more and Doggie’s Rathskeller and Garden is officially in business — opening with its “sneak peak” at the new bar Thursday afternoon in time for Arts Fest.

Send this to a friend