Nur Jahan, Moghul Queen Part 2

“ …she erects very expensive buildings in all directions – sarais, or halting-places for travellers and merchants, and pleasure gardens and palaces such as no one has ever made before.” – Pelsaert The Mughal period in India was one where culture and the arts were of great importance to the royal family and the ruling classes below them. Nur Jahan was fortunate indeed to have lived in this time and to have been born to a wealthy and powerful family. She was skilled in two languages, was considered an accomplished poet, designed and created clothing and jewellery, an art lover and collector, and she is famously known for her prowess as a huntress, her horsemanship and long black hair. It…

Read Article

Nur Jahan, Moghul Queen – Part 1

Of all the women I have researched and written about so far,the story of Nur Jahan is the most complete, the most reasonably well documented, and plenty has been written about her. In the first part of this post I will focus on the life of Nur Jahan with reference to the gardens. From Wikipedia: The Mughal Empire or Mogul (also Moghul) Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power in the Indian subcontinent south (India Pakistan Bangladesh) and from about 1526 to 1757. The Mughal emperors were Muslims and direct descendants of Genghis Khan through Chagatai Khan and Timur. At the height of their power in the late 17th and early 18thcenturies, they controlled most of the subcontinent….

Read Article

Queen Hatshepsut

A couple of time ago I wrote a post on the ancient Egyptian garden, which you can find here. Since writing it I have found out a few more things about gardening at that time but more specifically, the discovery that Queen Hatshepsut had made a name for herself in early plant exploration. So this post is about Queen Hatshepsut but is also an update on ancient Egyptian gardens. Hatshepsut, the fifth ruler of the 18th Dynasty, daughter of Thuthmosis I and Queen Ahmose, married her brother Thuthmosis II. They had one daughter, Neferure. With the death of her husband,a son by a secondary wife became king and Hatshepsut his regent. According to Egyptian ways a woman cannot become a pharaoh;…

Read Article
Magdalena Poulle

Magdalena Poulle 1632-1699, Netherlands

Magdalena Poulle was born in Calais in northern France in 1632 and was christened in Amsterdam in 1644. She grew up with five brothers and one sister in a wealthy merchant family. Magdalena married twice and both times widowed, with no children. In 1680 she bought the ruin of a manor house called Gunterstein near the village of Breukelen in the province of Utrecht in the Dutch Republic, which had been devastated by the French invasion in 1672. The purchase of this house allowed Magdalena the title “Lady of the manor of Gunterstein and Tienhoven” a privilege she perhaps sought out since no new titles for nobility were being created at that time. By 1681 Gunterstein was rebuilt and the gardens…

Read Article

Chinese Flower Goddesses

While researching for another post I came upon this web site from China that lists gods and goddesses and the flowers that they represent. In my attempt to confirm the names and the story behind each one I was only able to find one other listing. This listing had some duplication of goddess and flower but not all. Perhaps there is more than one list, or perhaps it depends where in China you live. It seems that these goddesses were real people, usually of high society and from what I can tell of ancient times. I was able to confirm a couple of the stories, which were quite lengthy, but not all. My lack of Chinese history and culture, and…

Read Article

Magic Carpet Ride : Persian Gardens

Now we turn our thoughts to ancient Iran or Persia. The history of Persia is one of a country invaded many times over. In the 7th century the Arabs invaded and conquered the Persian people. The Moguls with leader Genghiz Khan invaded in the 13th century and again in the 16th century by Tamerlane. Each conqueror brought something to the existing culture and yet the traditions and culture of Persian garden design remained and was absorbed and integrated into the cultures of each occupying force. As Egypt was a leading influence on garden style and design in the Mediterranean region, (in particular the Romans who brought it to the lands they vanquished) Persian gardens became the ideal from Spain to…

Read Article

The Garden in a Nunnery, Part 2 Hildegard von Bingen

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) Germany Much has been written about this remarkable woman. She has been and continues to be studied by scholars in diverse fields that include spirituality, theology, music, medicine, herbalism, and illumination (illustration). She was also a visionary and prophet. Hildegard had the intellect and the opportunity to address her numerous talents to all these fields. I will attempt to give you some idea of her life with an emphasis on her interest in medicine and herbalism. Hildegard was the 10th child born to a noble family. Traditionally the 10th child is given to the church as tithe, and so at the age of 8 Hildegard was sent to the Benedictine monastery of Disibodenburg in Bingen for…

Read Article
Canadian Wild Flowers

Canadian Gardening, eh?

Canadian gardens are in many ways a new idea. Our history is a short one spanning 400 years or so and those who arrived before us certainly did not garden in today’s sense of the word. For those early settlers and the indigenous people already on the land, gardening meant agriculture. It meant survival. Today a Canadian garden is no longer an oxymoron. Canadians have now lived in this beautiful country long enough to have thrown off the cultural ties that bound their gardening style to parts of Europe and instead have integrated these ways into something inherently Canadian.  The indigenous peoples of North America are known for their great medicinal success with the local flora. Lobelia, Gillenia, Sassafras are…

Read Article
Jane Colden

Jane Colden, botanist, New York brief story

Yet, by the late 20th century her name and place in American history began to emerge.  Today she is considered the first female American botanist, or as Asa Gray himself said in 1843, the “first botanist of her sex in her country”. Jane may never have become a botanist without the urging of her father, Cadwallader Colden, himself a physician and practicing botanist. Originally from Scotland, Cadwallader married Alice Chryste in 1715. They moved to the USA and had a farm in Newburgh-on-Hudson, New York when Jane was born in 1724. Cadwallader had by then built a successful political career and was the surveyor general of New York. Newburgh-on-Hudson was a remote area in the 1700’s. The American outdoors was…

Read Article

Plum Blossoms and dew drops, the ladies of Japan

The reverence of nature in the Japanese garden has not changed since ancient times. Tied to the religious beliefs of Shinto, kami, spirits in rocks, plants, animals and the departed ancestors, played a role in the process of garden design that we have today. Gardens became symbolic and minimalist in their layout due to the confines of the geography of Japan. When considering the garden and women of Japan the most interesting time is the Heian period (794-1185 AD). The Heian period is considered Japan’s Golden Age and for many reasons. It was a time when the Japanese withdrew themselves from contact with the Chinese. China was the big brother to Japan and had always been an enormous influence on…

Read Article