Christina Alphonso is the administrator at The Cloisters museum and gardens.
Posted: Thursday, November 5, 2015
In October, the sound of acorns falling from our oak trees, ricocheting off car roofs and crashing to the cobblestones, steadily and loudly increases. Etymologically, "acorn" is related to the Old English aecer (modern acre), as well as to Old French words for "nut" or "fruits and vegetables." Ultimately, acorn evolved to mean something akin to "fruit of the unenclosed land." Although the term originally referred to the nuts of any tree, we now use the word specifically for the nuts of oak trees.
Posted: Thursday, September 24, 2015
Does anyone else remember the first day back at grade school after summer vacation? My teachers often had the class write an essay detailing what they did over the course of the summer. In the next few posts, several staff members at The Cloisters will present the ways in which we spent our time at work and play this summer. My story begins on seas once crossed by Viking longships.
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2015
Video of flies swarming around the dragon arum at The Cloisters. Videos by Andrew Winslow
The Dracunculus vulgaris, or dragon arum, is a favorite plant at The Cloisters. It is fly-pollinated and produces the smell of rotting meat in order to draw the insects to it. We had hoped that our dragon arum would bloom over the Garden Days weekend, but it kept us waiting for a few extra days.
Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2015
The Museum is extremely pleased to provide an update on a project that threatened the extraordinary and long-protected viewshed of the Hudson River from The Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Posted: Thursday, June 4, 2015
Join us for Garden Days at The Cloisters, a daylong program of events, this Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7. Our horticultural staff will answer questions in the gardens throughout the day and lead tours specific to this year's theme: the importance and use of spices in medieval culture. The program also includes garden tours, a family workshop, and a talk by food writer and historian Michael Krondl.
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Within the past few weeks the grip of a long winter has loosened, and we have turned our attention toward our trees. Recent visitors might have noticed that our consulting arborist was hard at work pollarding the crab apples in the Cuxa Cloister. She'll have moved on to the trees in the orchard and our beloved veteran fruit trees in the Bonnefont Herb Garden by the time this post is published. We'll also be undertaking the first coppicing of our willows, a topic introduced in my previous post.
Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2015
An attractive feature of the Bonnefont Herb Garden in winter and early spring is the distinctive wattle used in the raised beds. Medieval gardens, orchards, and property boundaries were enclosed in a variety of ways, including by hedges and wattle fences. In the Bonnefont Herb Garden, our wattle, or hurdles (pictured above), of various heights edge the beds and support the plants. The hurdles and supports are made from willow from the Somerset Levels (wetlands) in England; willow has been grown and woven in Somerset since the late Iron Age. Willow work is still commercially produced in the region and the same family has made our wattle elements for many years.
Posted: Friday, January 2, 2015
The Belles Heures of Jean de France, duc de Berry, is an extraordinary illuminated manuscript and one of the great treasures of The Cloisters Collection. It is also relevant to the holiday season, as a few of its astonishingly beautiful illuminations depict scenes from the Christmas story.
Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The Cloisters museum and gardens will be decorated for the holidays through January 6. Today's post is intended to provide historical context for the designs, explain how the decorations are made, and to entice readers to visit and see them in person.
Posted: Thursday, December 4, 2014
Christmastide, the medieval celebration of Christmas, provides us with the opportunity to decorate The Cloisters with traditional materials to celebrate the season. As regular visitors and readers know, the decorative designs and elements are based on medieval evidence and are fabricated almost entirely from fresh seasonal materials. Among them is the familiar hazelnut.