The Garden of Naumberg Cathedral
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Categories: Ancient, Medieval

The Garden of Naumberg Cathedral

A low tree similar to an apple
The suspicious tree, in all of its autumnal glory

In the garden of Naumberg Cathedral is a peculiar tree. I think that I know what it is, but I will hide my ideas below the fold- below being a significant word, if my theory is correct.

Closeup of a tree similar to an apple but with wrinkly orange-brown fruit covered with lines of white dots
A detail of that fruit

I think that this is mespilus germanica, the medlar or open-arse. As Jeff Sypeck explains, the medlar was once a much-beloved fruit tree, until gardeners decided that a tree so fussy whose fruit inspired potty jokes was not worth the trouble, even if it did produce fruit in winter and have a wonderful smell. Wikipedia tells us that the medlar has Persian connections, like the peach (melum persicum).

The gardeners at Naumberg noticed that while the master mason who designed their cathedral loved leaves and fruit, modern visitors can be a bit ignorant of such things. So they carefully planted their garden with all the plants which his workers carved in stone, guessing when bookish botanists could not agree on a species. If I identified this species right, I suspect that in a few weeks the garden was full of the scent of retting medlars. If not, a little mystery is no bad thing.

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0 thoughts on “The Garden of Naumberg Cathedral

    1. Sean Manning says:

      They had little signs by many of the plants, but not by that one. (Although I will admit that it was cold and dark and I did not look too hard).

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