Orto romano – The Roman Kitchen Garden of Augusta Bagiennorum

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THE ROMAN KITCHEN GARDEN OF AUGUSTA BAGIENNORUM

The realization of  the Kitchen Garden of Augusta Bagiennorum is part of the “Essence of the Territory” program, which aims to create a network of cultural and landscape heritage, linked to the agricultural tradition of the surrounding area.

The project was inspired by the Roman tradition of gardens with utilitarian purpose of the I-II century BC, dedicated to the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and herbs useful for the domestic life. The plant species were selected with reference to the agricultural treatises of the classical authors and to the results of archaeobotanical analysis performed during the excavation of the ancient Augusta Bagiennorum.

The kitchen garden follows the Roman quadrangular “module”, with an area of about 100 square meters, divided into four regular sectors, cultivated with vegetables, medicinal plants, aromatic herbs, cereals and fruit trees separated by ground pounded paths.

At the center a vine pergola on chestnut poles (jugatio compluviata – in imitation of compluvium, typical Roman rooftops opened in the center), creates a shaded area for sitting that evokes the Roman ritual of eating lunch on outdoor couches.

The perimeter is enclosed by a thorny hedge of hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna Jacq.), Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa Jacq.), Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea L.), dogwood (Cornus mas L.) and wild rose (Rosa canina L.), protection against intrusions.

Portals with climbing roses (Rosa gallica L. and Rosa L. pendulina Rosa tomentosa Sm.) mark the entrances in the Garden.

Inner fence of the sectors with grillages made by chestnut wood.

Walkways on beaten earth wide suitable for the maintenance of the garden

Fruit trees sector: apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) and quince (Cydonia oblonga L.) surrounded by a lawn with flowers, bulbs and local wild plants.

Vegetables sector: 4 micro areas cultivated on a system of three-year rotation, a cultivation technique already known among the Romans to improve the cultivation yield and to preserve soil fertility. Predominant botanical families: Pulses, Onion Family, Apiacee and Brassicaceae.

Cereals sector: 2 micro areas sown according to a biennial rotation plan with alternation of cereals and leguminous plants, used to enrich the soil of nutrients. The compresent weed species adorn the area with summer flowers and, at the same time, they can be used with medicinal and culinary purposes.

Aromatic and medicinal plants sector: 3 main flowerbeds with annuals, biennials and perennials herbs and plants unique for their flowering.

Mixed flowerbeds of flowers and aromatic herbs, with aesthetic and utilitarian value.

 

CURIOSITY RELATED TO THE USE OF CERTAIN SPECIES IN ROMAN ERA:

Arugula (Eruca sativa Mill.) Used in love potions (Ovid in “Ars Amatoria” called it “eruca salax” or “herba salax ” ie lustful grass)

Calendula Flowers (Calendula officinalis L.), Minibells, hyacinths, violets, lilies and roses used to prepare holy crowns to offer to the gods together with Rosemary, whose perfume accompanied dead people in the afterlife

Borage (Borago officinalis L.), used to decorate houses for weddings and as an antidote to sadness;

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis L.), used as protection from the infection of many diseases and to purify temples and public places;

Mallow (Malva sylvestris L.), of which he was fond Cicero;

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), with which he was treated Augusto seriously ill, since that moment it  never missed on the table of the emperor, becoming fashionable among the Romans;

Daisies (Bellis perennis L.), which juices were used to treat cutting wounds of legionnaires;

Savory (Satureja hortensi L.), together with Calamint (Clinopodium nepeta L.) and Ruta (Ruta graveolens L.) were used as ingredients for Moretum (spread cheese that the Romans ate with bread).

 

 

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