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It's summer and those of us who garden (as well as those of us who don't but appreciate it anyway) enjoy this time of year.  We are gardeners, Erin more than Christy, but we greatly enjoy the peace and tranquility of a beautiful garden.  This is a trait we share in common with Elizabethans. Elizabethans used their gardens as an extension of their homes and, if there was space, they would cultivate gardens with a variety of purposes.  There was the kitchen garden for food, the herbal garden for medicines, the cutting garden for decoration, laundry gardens, pleasure gardens, etc. 

The garden and all the flowers, animals, and bugs in the garden influenced the Elizabethan aesthetic in all types of media from illumination, painting, poetry, to embroidery. The profusion of flowers in Elizabethan embroidery attests to their love of the garden:  Borage, roses, woodbine, heart's ease, thistles, carnations, and cornflowers.  Fruits like pears, strawberries, pomegranates, cherries, peas, and apples all show up in embroidery. And insects like butterflies, moths, as well as birds, squirrels, hares, and stags adorn needle worked caps, coifs, gauntlets and pictorial representations. While the medieval aesthetic focused on religious imagery, and the later Jacobean sensibilities were heavily influenced by their trade with India and the Far East, the Elizabethans looked to their garden as their source of inspiration.

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Olya Novozhilova
Olya Novozhilova
Apr 24, 2023

The Virgins Pattern, a eulogy poem for Susanna Perwich (died 1661), by John Batchiler. Seemed appropriate to this gown!

Wax, Straws and Gum,

Silks, Gems, and Gold, the total sum

Of rich materials she disposed

In dainty order, and composed

Pictures of men, birds, beasts, and flowers,

When leisure served at idle hours.

All this so rarely to the Life,

As if there were a kind of strife,

‘Twixt Art and Nature: Trees of fruits

With leaves, boughs, branches, body, roots,

She made to grow in Winter time,

Ripe to the eye, easy to climb.


Watt, Melinda. “English Embroidery of the Late Tudor and Stuart Eras.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art,…

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