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The monastery garden and its plants
The monastery garden and its plants

Video: The monastery garden and its plants

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Video: Monastery Garden 2023, January

In earlier times, a monastery garden was mainly used for self-sufficiency and not only consisted of medicinal herbs, but also provided space for vegetables, herbs and even fruit. With a growing interest in a healthy lifestyle, the monastery garden, which was created by hand, is very trendy. Read here how to create your own monastery garden.

Monastery gardens have a long tradition and were created as a utility garden in the Middle Ages. The background was the idea of ​​self-sufficiency. Because many monasteries insisted on being able to take care of themselves and live independently of the world. Even today, gardens are still being modeled on earlier monastery gardens and many plants that decorate our gardens today were used by nuns and monks centuries ago.

Probably the best known abbess was St. Hildegard von Bingen (1098 to 1179), who significantly influenced alternative medicine with her writings. Many medicinal herbs have been forgotten over time, but plants such as marigold, lemon balm and chamomile are still used today an integral part of medicine.

Create a monastery garden

So that medicinal, useful and ornamental plants can grow successfully next to each other, good planning is required. Monastery gardens are usually subject to a clear structure. For example, beds were laid out in a checkerboard pattern or in parallel rows. Paths should not be missing, because they separate the individual beds and at the same time enable good access. Whether made of gravel, with stepping stones or natural stones, they make the work considerably easier.

Measure your beds beforehand, cover them with a cord and prick the edges of the beds with a spade. If you have prepared the bed so far, you can start planting. You always work from the inside out and start with tall plants, the small plants are then outside. The borders, which consist of either privet or bamboo hedges, are typical for beds in monastery gardens.

Klostergarten anlegen
Klostergarten anlegen

You can easily create a monastery garden yourself. However, plan in advance where which plants should grow and in the vegetable garden think about which species can form a mixed culture.

Photo: MSG / Martin Staffler

Matching plant combinations

For the modern gardener, tried and tested bed designs can be derived from the old models of the monastery gardens:

Thyme (thymus), sage (salvia), student flower (tagetes) and marigold (calendula) used to be mixed in every monastery garden. Herbs such as mugwort (Artemisia), angelica (Angelica), marshmallow (Althaea) and mallow (Malva) form a suitable bed background due to their size. Although the border of the bed used to consist mostly of boxwood, depending on the location it can also consist of lavender, holy herb (Santolina), rowan rose or even scented violet (viola). You just have to make sure that these are kept short so that the other bedding plants do not lose light. Annual plants such as dill and chervil, for example, fit perfectly into a vegetable patch, while herbaceous herbs such as tarragon, lemon balm and lady's mantle (alchemilla) thrive well among rose bushes, phlox and peonies (Paeonia).

In addition to the rose, the Madonna and Iris (Iris) were also very popular as medicinal plants in the monastery gardens. The background was primarily Christian symbolism. So the Madonna lily stood for the Virgin Mary and the juice produced when the St. John's wort flowers were ground was seen as the blood of John the Baptist.

Another proven combination is intensely fragrant, soothing lavender and lavishly blooming roses. When summer comes to an end, late-flowering herbs such as mullein (Verbascum), coneflower or Wasserdost (Eupatorium) give the garden a colorful finale.


St. John's wort is considered a helpful remedy for restlessness, anxiety and depression. It prefers to grow in light to partially shaded locations. The soil should be moist and have sufficient nutrients.

Photo: MasPix / Alamy

Spice and medicinal plants can not only be used to create colorful flowering borders, but also gentle tone-on-tone plantings: leaf herbs in different shades of green, combined with varied leaf structures - such as parsley, lemon balm and pimpinelle - fit particularly well in terms of form landscaped gardens.

It is important for the success of your own monastery garden that the individual plants prefer the same location - so you guarantee that everything grows equally well. Sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano and lemon balm need the same conditions for good growth - lots of sun, warmth, a dry, well-drained soil and moderate watering.

Among the local herbs there are also some shade and penumbra lovers, such as woodruff and wild garlic, parsley, chives, rocket and chervil, which also like good, nutrient-rich soil.

Medicinal herb patch

Low plants such as sage, thyme, marigolds - known as calendula or student flowers - belong in a medicinal herb bed. For the inner area of ​​the medicinal herb bed, you can choose angelica, mallow, mugwort or marshmallow, which grow taller. A combination with scented violets, lavender or columbine looks particularly beautiful.

Kitchen herb bed


Parsley and chives prefer partially shaded cookies and are therefore less suitable for a location where thyme or sage grows.

Photo: Ars Ulrikusch /

Herbs and spices enrich the kitchen and give your dishes that certain something. Popular herbs are dill, tarragon, parsley, chervil, savory and lemon balm. Make sure that lavender, rosemary, oregano, sage, basil, and dill prefer a sunny, warm location. Chives, parsley, lemon balm, wild garlic and chervil also manage in partial shade.

Vegetable patch

Even grown vegetables usually taste better than vegetables from the supermarket. In addition to tomatoes, cabbage, celery, radish, onions or beans, you can also plant old vegetables such as parsnips or Swiss chard. However, a mixed culture must be planned well. Only in this way can every plant grow optimally.


Even on small plots of land, a small orchard can be created if espalier fruit, for example sour cherries, pears, apples, peaches or apricots, are led up the house wall. If you want, you can also grow the trellis fruit roof-shaped. After a while, this creates a cozy arbor that provides shade in summer. A row of low apple trees or tall stems of currants and gooseberries also structures the garden. Fruit from your own garden still tastes best - then as now!

Obstgarten Apfelbaum
Obstgarten Apfelbaum

Fruit from your own garden tastes best. If you don't have space for a row of fruit trees, you can simply work with trellises.

/ Catalin Petolea

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