Saturday, April 30, 2022

15C Mythical Goddess Flora - Symbol of Spring

Detail of Flora from Primavera by Botticelli, c. 1482

Flora in Roman mythology, was goddess of spring-time & flowers, later identified with the Greek Chloris. Her festival at Rome, the Floralia, instituted 238 B.C. by order of the Sibylline books & at first held irregularly, became annual after 173. It lasted 6 days (April 28-May 3), the 1st day being the anniversary of the foundation of her temple. 

The Floralia was a public festival to honor the goodwill of the goddess Flora. Created in the 6th century BC by the Romans, it took place in spring  & lasted 6 days, & consisted of games & theatrical performances. Chariot races & circus games took place & everywhere were the symbols of Flora. It was traditional to have goats & hares scampering about the landscape where flowers of lupines, beans, & vetch were scattered about. The celebrating Romans held bouquets of flowers & wore wreaths of flowers around their necks or in their hair. In art Flora was represented as a beautiful maiden, bedecked with flowers. The term “flora” became used in botany collectively for the plant-growth of an area.

See Primary Sources:
Ovid, Fasti V. 193-212
Macrobius, Saturnalia I.10.11-14
Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.20.6-10
Tacitus, Annals, ii. 49
and
Ovid, Fasti, Book 4; T.P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome (University of Exeter Press, 2004).
Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998)
H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981)
William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908)

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers

 

Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

Mythical Gardens - Adam & Eve in The Garden of Eden at Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

 Adam and Eve in Paradise” Egerton Manuscript 912, f. 10, c. 1415.  British Library

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Friday, April 29, 2022

Mythical Gardens - Adam & Eve in The Garden of Eden by Lucas Cranach (1472-1553) & His Workshop

Lucas Cranach (Northern Renaissance Painter, 1472-1553) and his workshop painting of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Paradise Gardens usually depict the biblical Garden of Eden, often referred to as “paradise,” a word that evoked the notion of an untouched & primal landscape, or pleasurable space in a lush landscape of greenery. Cranach, who was a close friend of Martin Luther, worked at the court of Saxony. 

The artist's friend Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German priest, theologian, author, & hymnwriter. A former Augustinian friar, he is best known among Christians as the seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation & as the namesake of Lutheranism

The artist, who was famous for his landscapes, representations of animals & nudes, found Adam & Eve a subject which was ideally suited to his gifts & to which the Lutherans did not object. He & his workshop treated it many times in paintings & prints.

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


By the mid-1930s, Longwood had grown from the original 202 acres to 926 due to Pierre’s purchase of 25 contiguous properties over the years. In addition to horticulture, agriculture had always been important at Longwood, which started out, after all, as a farm.

Longwood’s agricultural & horticultural operations slowed considerably during World War II. Many employees served in the Armed Forces, & a 72-bed emergency hospital was set up in rooms above the Ballroom just in case the community needed it. Pierre du Pont was a “gentlemen farmer” who sought to create a self-sustaining model farm that used the latest techniques & methods. In reality, the farm was more an expansive, expensive hobby than a business, but it did produce food for the du Ponts & their employees.

As early as 1914 with the formation of Longwood, Inc., Pierre was thinking about the eventual fate of the property after his death. In 1944, Mrs. du Pont died, & Pierre initially retreated to his apartment in Wilmington during weekdays, visiting Longwood only on weekends. But he was more concerned than ever about Longwood's future, particularly since he had no children but considered the Gardens part of the du Pont family legacy.  

In 1913, the US government enacted personal income tax. In response, Pierre incorporated Longwood in 1914. He always tried to stay one step ahead of the IRS to keep his farm & gardens in the best possible tax situation, & in 1937 the Longwood Foundation was created to handle his charitable giving. Finally, in 1946, the government gave approval for the Foundation to operate Longwood Gardens as a public garden with tax-exempt status “for the sole use of the public for purposes of exhibition, instruction, education & enjoyment.”   See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers

 

Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Spring Allegory with Flowers & a Garden by Wenceslaus Hollar 1607-1677

1641 Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech, 1607-1677) Spring

Wenceslaus Hollar was born in 1607, the son of an upper middle-class civic official. Very little is known about his early life, but he evidently learned the rudiments of his craft by age eighteen, left his native Prague at age twenty, and likely studied in Frankfurt under Matthaus Merian. His first book of etchings was published in 1635, in Cologne when Hollar was twenty-eight. The following year he came to the attention of the renowned art collector the Earl of Arundel who was making an official visit to the continent, and Hollar subsequently became a part of his household, settling in England early in 1637. He remained in England during the beginning of the English Civil War period, but left London for Antwerp in 1642, where he continued to work on a variety of projects. In 1652 he returned to England, working on a number of large projects for the publisher John Ogilby and for the antiquary Sir William Dugdale. Hollar was in London during the Great Fire of 1666, and remains most famous for his scenes of the city before and after the fire. He was one of the most skilled etchers of his or any other time, which is all the more remarkable given that he was almost blind in one eye. Hollar died in London on 25 March 1677. By his life's end, he had produced some 2700 separate etchings.

Mythical Gardens - God Creating Eve - Illuminated Manuscripts

God Creating Eve. Saint Beatus of Liébana, Spain  (c. 730 - c. 800) New York Public Library 

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

17C Time to Stop & Smell the Flowers

1638 L'Odorat by Abraham Bosse (French, c 1602-04–1676)

Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Pierre du Pont’s love for fountains stretched back to when he was mesmerized at the age of six by the huge display of water pumps at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. With his indoor Conservatory now a reality, Pierre turned his full attention outdoors, where Longwood’s hydraulic splendors were already underway. Never mind that the property didn't have an abundant water supply; with electricity, anything was possible.

From 1925 to 1927, Pierre constructed  a Water Garden in a low-lying, marshy site northeast of Longwood’s Large Lake. The inspiration was the Villa Gamberaia, near Florence, Italy. The original did not have many fountains, but Longwood’s version had 600 jets in nine separate displays that shot from six blue-tiled pools & 12 pedestal basins.

At the same time, Pierre installed a 40-foot tall jet fountain at the end of the central allée in Peirce’s Park. It is said that Mrs. du Pont could turn the fountain on for her house guests with a switch. Pierre next decided to enlarge the Open Air Theatre & replace the old waterworks with 750 illuminated jets that continue to elicit thrills today.

Pierre’s hydraulic masterpiece was the Main Fountain Garden in front of the Conservatory: 10,000 gallons a minute shot as high as 130 feet & illuminated in every imaginable color. Its complex engineering didn't faze him. "The fountains themselves are of simple design...," he noted. "It is the landscape effect that adds to the total bill."

The completion of the fountains in the mid-1930s marked an end to major construction during Pierre’s lifetime, although he did build a 30-by-36-foot oval analemmatic sundial in what is now the Topiary Garden in the late 1930s.

In 1929-30, Pierre  constructed Longwood’s 61-foot-tall stone Chimes Tower based on a similar structure he had seen in France. In 1956, the original chimes were replaced with a 32-note electronic carillon. In 2000, a new 62-bell carillon was crafted in The Netherlands.

The Longwood Steinway Grand Piano was purchased by Pierre du Pont from Steinway & Sons in 1923. Du Pont was an amateur pianist & had a great love of music & all the performing arts. He wanted the world‘s most finely crafted instrument that he, his family, friends, & visiting artists could use to play music of the highest quality sound.

Located in the Ballroom, Pierre S. du Pont constructed the largest residence organ in the world—Longwood's 10,010 pipe Aeolian organ, in 1930. These resident instruments remain cornerstones of Longwood's performing arts programming, which presents world-class artists in unparalleled settings.

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Mythical Gardens - Adam & Eve in The Garden of Eden at Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

The Garden of Eden, Paradise Garden, The Temptation of Adam and Eve (detail) in Concerning the Fates of Illustrious Men and Women, about 1415, Boucicaut Master. J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 63, fol. 3  Adam & Eve are surely not alone as they are tempted & expelled in this enclosed garden hortus conclusus.

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Native American Plant Myths - Hunting & Using Ginseng


American Ginseng


1590 North American Atlantic Coast Natives by John White (c1540 – c1593). The village of Pomeiooc (Pomeiock) was a Native America settlement, designated on de Bry’s map of Virginia, Americae Pars Nunc Virginia Dicta, between today’s Wyesocking Bay & Lake Landing, North Carolina. John White called the settlement Pomeyoo.

For thousands of years, Earth's indigenous people from separate  ethnic groups inhabiting a variety of the planet's climates & terrains have searched for; and created oral myths about plants & animals; & often have used nearby plants as medicine to control ailments afflicting them & their domestic animals. Many of these myths were passed down from generation to generation as oral tales before written language.

Extracted from:  Myths of the Cherokee.  Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau  of American Ethnology. Washington Government Printing Office 1902  Recorded by James Mooney (1861-1921) was an American ethnographer who lived for several years among the Cherokee.

Plant Lore

Ginseng, which is sold in large quantities to the local traders, as well as used in the native medical practice, is called âtali-gûli', "the mountain climber," but is addressed by the priests as Yûñwi Usdi', "Little Man," or Yûñwi Usdi'ga Ada'wehi'yu, "Little Man, Most Powerful Magician," the Cherokee sacred term having its origin from the frequent resemblance of the root in shape to the body of a man. The beliefs and ceremonies in connection with its gathering and preparation are very numerous. The doctor speaks constantly of it as of a sentient being, and it is believed to be able to make itself invisible to those unworthy to gather it. 

In hunting it, the first three plants found are passed by. The fourth is taken, after a preliminary prayer, in which the doctor addresses it as the "Great Ada'wehi," and humbly asks permission to take a small piece of its flesh. On digging it from the ground, he drops into the hole a bead and covers it over, leaving it there, by way of payment to the plant spirit. After that he takes them as they come without further ceremony.

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers


Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Personification of Spring with a Garden! by Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech artist, 1607-1677)

Personification of Spring by Wenceslaus Hollar (Czech artist, 1607-1677)  Spring with a view of a 17C walled garden with people, beds, & two gates!

Wenceslaus Hollar was born in 1607, the son of an upper middle-class civic official. He left his native Prague at age 20, and likely studied in Frankfurt under Matthaus Merian. His 1st book of etchings was published in 1635, in Cologne, when Hollar was 28. The following year he came to the attention of the art collector the Earl of Arundel who was making an official visit to the continent, & Hollar subsequently became a part of his household, settling in England early in 1637. He remained in England during the beginning of the English Civil War period; but left London for Antwerp in 1642, where he continued to work on a variety of projects. In 1652, he returned to England, working on a number of large projects for the publisher John Ogilby & Sir William Dugdale. Hollar was in London during the Great Fire of 1666, & remains famous for his scenes of the city before & after the fire. He a skilled etcher, which is remarkable given that he was almost blind in one eye. Hollar died in London on 25 March 1677. By his life's end, he had produced nearly 3000 separate etchings.

Mythical Gardens - Adam & Eve in The Garden of Eden - Illuminated Manuscripts

 Adam and Eve in The Garden pf Edem Eating the Forbidden Fruit (detail), by Willem Vrelant, early 1460s

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, and cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts and early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.
Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

See:
Creation of Adam

Michaelangelo. Creation of Adam. Fresco. Vatican, Sistine Chapel. Pietrangeli et al. The Sistine Chapel. New York: Harmony Books, 1986. P. 139

Creation of Adam. Sculpture,13th century. Chartres, North Porch. Kraus, The Living Theatre of Medieval Art, pl. 30

Boucicaut Master and Workshop. God gives Adam a soul. 15th C. Illumination. Paris, Bibl. Nat., fr. 9141, f. 29v. Meiss, Millard. French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry: The Boucicaut Master. London: Phaidon, 1968. Pl. 448

Creation of Eve

The Creation of Eve. Biblium Pauperum, 14th Century. Lee, Laurence. Stained Glass. London: Artists House, 1982. P. 26.

The Creation of Eve. Early 13th C. Illumination. Psalter of Saint Louis and Blanche of Castille. Paris, Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, MS 1186, f. 10. P. D'Ancona & E. Aeschlimann. The Art of Illumination. London: Phaidon, 1969. plate 73

Michaelangelo. The Creation of Eve.Vatican, Sistine Chapel. Pietrangeli et al. The Sistine Chapel. New York: Harmony Books, 1986. Pp. 144 45.

Creation of Adam and Eve. Mid 14th C. Illumination. Holkham Bilble Picture Book. London, British Library, MS Add. 47682, f. 3. P. D'Acona & E. Aeschlimann. The Art of Illumination. London: Phaidon, 1969. Plate 90.

God presents Eve to Adam. 15th C. Illumination. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, ms. 251, f. 16. Meiss, Millard. French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry: The Boucicaut Master. London: Phaidon, 1968. Pl. 457

Adam and Eve.15th C. Illumination.Paris, Bibl. de l'Arsenal, ms. 5193, f. 8v. Meiss, Millard. French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry: The Boucicaut Master. London: Phaidon, 1968. Pl. 381

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. ca 1460. Illumination,17 1/8 x 12 in. Les sept ages du monde. Department of Manuscripts, Royal Library of Belgium, MS 9047, f. 1v,L.M.J. DeLaisse. Medieval Miniatures. London: Thames and Hudson, 1965. Plate 35.

Jean Colombe. Adam and Eve.1480-85. Illumination. Hours of Anne of France. New York, Morgan Library. Gill, D. M.Illuminated Manuscripts. New York: Brockhampton Press and Barnes and Noble, 1996. p. 47

The Fall

The Creation and Fall. The Bedford Book of Hours, ca. 1423. The British Library. Postcard, museum shop.

Masolino. The Fall of Man. Florence, Brancacci Chapel.Casazza, Ornella. Masaccio. Florence: Scala, 1990. pl. 40

Michaelangelo: The Fall of Man. Rome, Vatican, Sistine Chapel. Pietrangeli et al. The Sistine Chapel. New York: Harmony Books, 1986. Pp. 146-47

John Thornton of Coventry. The Fall of Man. Stained glass. York Minster, Great East Window. Lee, Laurence. Stained Glass. London: Artists House, 1982. p. 87

The Fall of Man. Norwich Cathedral, wood carving (ceiling boss). Card, cathedral shop.

The Fall of Man. Illumination, late 13th century. British Library, Hebrew MS. Add. 11638, f. 520v. Postcard, museum shop.

The Limbourg Brothers. The Fall. Chantilly, Muse Cond. Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.Cazelles. Illuminations of Heaven and Earth. New York: Abrams. p. 70-71

Guilio Clovio. The Fall of Man Illumination, The Hours of Cardinal Alesssandro Farnese, 1546. New York, The Morgan Library, MS 69, f. 28. Harthan, John. The Book of Hours. New York: Park Lane, 1977. p. 163

The Expulsion from the Garden

Masaccio. The Expulsion. Florence: Brancacci Chapel. Casazza, Ornella. Masaccio. Florence: Scala, 1990. Pl. 21.

God creates Adam and Eve, the Fall and Expulsion. 834 843, Tours. Illumination. Moutier-Grandval Bible. London, British Library, MS Addit. 10546, f. 5v. Beckwith, John. Early Medieval Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 1964. Pl. 46.

Boucicaut Workshop. Adam and Eve, Eve addressed by angel as she spins, Adam delving. Early 15th C, before 1413. Illumination. Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, fr. 3810, f. 157v. Millard Miess. French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry: The Boucicault Master. London: Phaidon, 1968. Plate 94.

Adam Delving. Late 12th C. Stained glass. Canterbury Cathedral, west window, nave. Keates, Jonathan. Canterbury Cathedral. London: Scala/Philip Wilson, 1980. p. 60

Monday, April 25, 2022

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Ten years after purchasing Longwood, Pierre du Pont was just getting warmed up. By 1916 he was contemplating grand indoor facilities “designed to exploit the sentiments & ideas associated with plants & flowers in a large way.”

The result was the stunning Conservatory, a perpetual Eden that opened in 1921. The latest technology was used to heat, water, & power the complex, but the systems were hidden in tunnels so as not to detract from the grandeur of the glass-covered peristyle & surrounding rooms.

Pierre chose to fill his new garden not with the usual jungle of exotic tropical foliage as was then the fashion but rather with fruits & flowers used in a decorative, horticultural way. One observer termed his greenhouses “floral sun parlors.”

A staff of eight gardeners oversaw this perpetual indoor flower show, aided by three boiler operators. Outdoors there were 11 gardeners & groundskeepers, & the entire Horticultural Department of 29 was headed by old-school English gardener William Mulliss.

It would be hard to imagine a more theatrical setting for the display of plants, unless it would be to the music of a massive, 3,650-pipe Aeolian. In 1923, an elegant Music Room with walnut paneling, damask-covered walls, teak floors, & a molded plaster ceiling was built opening onto the central axis of the main greenhouse.

The public came in droves to see these wonders under glass, fulfilling Pierre’s childhood dream of building a greenhouse open to the public. The du Ponts also had the perfect place for grand entertainment hosting innumerable civic & educational groups as well as family & friends. The guests’ reactions were always the same: a place beyond compare.    See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Mythical Gardens - The Garden of Eden at Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

God Creating the Birds and Animals in the Garden of Eden   Vatican Library Collection

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers


Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Woman with a Basket of Flowers by William Marshall (1617-1649)

William Marshall (British printmaker, 1617-1649) Woman with a Flower Basket

Mythical Gardens - Adam & Eve in The Garden of Eden at Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

Adam and Eve, temptation and fal  Royal Library, El Escorial, Spain - Ms & II. 5 fol-18ll 

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


"I have recently experienced what I would formerly have diagnosed as an attack of insanity; that is, I have purchased a small farm,” Pierre du Pont wrote to a friend soon after purchasing the Peirce farm in 1906. However, he added, “I expect to have a good deal of enjoyment in restoring its former condition & making it a place where I can entertain my friends.”

It didn’t take Pierre long before he started making his mark on what he called Longwood. The name came from the nearby Longwood Meeting House, which in turn was named for a neighboring Longwood Farm. “Longwood” probably derives from a nearby stretch of forest known locally as The Long Woods.

In 1907, Pierre laid out his first garden—the 600-foot-long Flower Garden Walk, which is today one of Longwood’s most popular gardens. Longwood’s first fountain—a simple pool with a single jet of water—was constructed in the center of the walk.

The springtime effect of the Flower Garden Walk was so successful that in 1909 Pierre began hosting June garden parties that quickly became highlights of the summer social season. Their success encouraged him to look for ever more wonderful ways to delight his guests.

The Open Air Theatre debuted five years later. His inspiration was an outdoor theatre near Siena, Italy. Within a year, he equipped it with “secret” fountains that shot out of the stage floor to drench visiting nieces & nephews.

To combat dreary winters, Pierre built an extension onto the original Peirce house & connected the new & old wings with a conservatory – Longwood’s first “winter garden.” Its courtyard was planted with exotic foliage & graced with a small marble fountain, a wedding gift to mark Pierre’s marriage in 1915 to Alice Belin.    See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Mythical Gardens - The Garden of Eden at Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

Diebold Lauber, Vol 1 Old Testament  St Gallen, Canton Library, Vadianische collection, Vad Slg Ms. 343c  Creation Mid 15C

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Friday, April 22, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers


Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Woman Holding A Fan by Abraham Bosse (French, c 1602-04–1676)

Woman Holding A Fan by Abraham Bosse (French, c 1602/1604–1676)  Bosse was a French illustrator, mainly as a printmaker in etching. He was born to Huguenot (Calvinist) parents in Tours, France, where his father had moved from Germany. His father was a tailor, & Bosse's work always depicted clothes in loving detail. Roughly 1600 etchings are attributed to him, with subjects including: daily life, religion, literature, fashion, technology, & science. Most of his output was illustrations for books, but many were also sold separately. His style grows from Dutch & Flemish art, but is given a strongly French flavor. Many of his images give informative detail about middle & upper-class daily life in the period, although they must be treated with care as historical evidence. 

Mythical Gardens - The Garden of Eden at Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

Genesis, The Creation of the Animals.  Oxford MS. Douce 135 fol-017v Here the garden is filled with trees & birds.

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Pierre S. du Pont was born in 1870 in a DuPont Company house overlooking the Brandywine Creek just north of Wilmington, Delaware. His early years were influenced by the area’s natural beauty & by the du Pont family’s long tradition of gardening. But not even Pierre himself could have predicted that he would someday become one of the country’s most influential gardeners.

While he always preferred to live amid the quiet, familiar beauty of the Brandywine Valley, Pierre was greatly influenced by his frequent travels around the globe. He attended several world’s fairs & expositions, where he was astounded by grand architecture & the latest technology, including the huge display of water pumps at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia & illuminated fountains at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

While traveling, he was also exposed to a wide variety of garden settings, including Horticultural Hall at the 1876 Centennial, England's Sydenham Crystal Palace, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew & the flora of South America, the Caribbean, Florida, California & Hawaii. Visits to Italian villas & French châteaux focused on the architectural qualities & water effects of those gardens.

In addition to his travels, Pierre also built an impressive record of success in corporate America. This success brought great wealth & he felt great responsibility to use it wisely. Pierre & his wife Alice gave generously to public schools, universities, & hospitals. But gardening remained his lifelong passion.

At the age of 36, Pierre bought the Peirce farm & soon began creating what would become Longwood Gardens. He followed no grand plan; rather, he built the gardens piecemeal, beginning with the “old-fashioned” Flower Garden Walk. His later gardens would draw heavily on Italian & French forms.

Many generations helped create Longwood Gardens, but Pierre du Pont – industrialist, conservationist, farmer, designer, impresario, & philanthropist – was to make the most enduring contribution.

When du Pont died in 1954, he left most of his estate to the Longwood Foundation to preserve & maintain & improve the gardens. Today, nearly 70 years after du Pont’s death, his gardens continue to delight & inspire visitors from around the world.   See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) 

Mythical Gardens - The Garden of Eden at Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

French illuminated manuscript, Image du Monde, attributed to Gautier de Metz, portraying God creating animals and birds; Harley 344, folio 1. British Library

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers


Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

17C Spring by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)

Wenceslaus Hollar (European-born English artist, 1607-1677) Duchess of Lennox as Spring. Spring refers to the ecological, environmental season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection & regrowth.

Spring is the perfect time to celebrate Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

Mythical Gardens - The Garden of Eden at Creation - Illuminated Manuscripts

Secrets d'histoire naturelle Centre-ouest de la France, vers 1480-1485  Bibliothèque nationale de France, Manuscrits, Français 22971 fol. 15v Here the Garden of Eden seems to sit on a navacble 

In Western iconography the early Christian garden is usually defined by the Biblical story of Adam & Eve, the original lovers thrown out of paradise for tasting forbidden fruit, & cast into the wilderness to define their own lives & gardens. Before the Western printing press, illustrated manuscripts & early depictions of landscapes in portrayals of Biblical gardens give us a glimpse of gardens familiar & imagined during the periods the images were created. 

Gardens are often mentioned in the Bible. In the language of the Hebrews, every place where plants & trees were cultivated with greater care than in the open field, was called a garden. Fruit & shade trees, with aromatic shrubs, sometimes constituted the garden; though roses, lilies, & various gardens were used only for table vegetables, Genesis 2:8-10 15:1-21; 1 Kings 21:2; Ecclesiastes 2:5,6.

Genesis 2:8 “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed...And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Trade Routes between Europe & Asia during Antiquity

 

Trade Routes between Europe & Asia during Antiquity

Long-distance trade played a major role in the cultural, religious, artistic, & plant exchanges that took place between the major centers of civilization in Europe & Asia during antiquity. Some of these trade routes had been in use for centuries. The trade routes served principally to transfer luxury goods, raw materials, plants, & foodstuffs between the East & West.

As far back as the 6th century CE, great caravans of camels traveled regularly over the Arab trade routes between India and the Middle East carrying prized Eastern goods, such as drugs, hemp, opium, incense and spices. In the Middle Ages, these goods were transferred on to the Levant and to merchants in Venice for distribution throughout Europe.

The Silk Road, a series of ancient trade routes stretching across Central Asia to Europe, evokes exotic images of camel trains laden with bales of fine Chinese silk, spices, and perfume;, of desert oases surrounded by snow-capped mountains; of bustling markets thronging with travelers buying and selling grapes, coriander, Baltic amber, and Mediterranean coral. The silks & spices & incence evolved as ancient mankind experimented with the products of Nature.  Along this route, silks were sent from China to ancient Rome; princesses were dispatched in marriage alliances across the deserts; bandits and thieves launched attacks throughout history. Spanning more than 5,000 years, the Silk Road was more than just a trade route, the Silk Road witnessed the movement of Man's cultural influences intermingled with Nature's changing landscapes.

Some areas had a monopoly on certain materials or goods. China, for example, supplied West Asia & the Mediterranean world with silk, while spices were obtained principally from South Asia. These goods were transported over vast distances— either by caravans & pack animals overland, or by seagoing ships—along the Silk & Spice Routes, which were the main arteries of contact between the various ancient empires of the Old World.

Another important trade route, known as the Incense Route, was controlled by the Arabs, who brought frankincense & myrrh by camel caravan from South Arabia. The demands for scents & incense by the empires of antiquity, such as Egypt, Rome & Babylon, made Arabia one of the oldest trade centers of the world.
The original Spice Trade, or 'Incense Route', from the Mediterranean to India and the East was closed off to Europeans due to the spread of Islam after the Prophet Muhammad's death in 632 CE. Traders from the Arabian world controlled overland and sea routes from India to the Levant and Venice. Arabs monopolized trade in drugs, hemp, opium, incense and spices for centuries until the Ottoman Turks broke their stranglehold on Eastern trade in 1453. 

Cities along these trade routes grew rich providing services to merchants who rested in oasis towns (known as a "caravanserai"). These centers served as international marketplaces, & areas where knowledge was also exchanged. Cities such as Palmyra & Petra, on the fringes of the Syrian Desert, flourished mainly as centers of trade supplying merchant caravans & policing the trade routes. They also became cultural & artistic centers, where peoples of different ethnic & cultural backgrounds could meet & intermingle. 

The trade routes were the communications highways of the ancient world. New inventions, artistic styles, religious faiths, cultures, languages, & social customs, as well as goods & plants, were transported.

Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. “Trade Routes between Europe and Asia during Antiquity.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. 

The Medieval Spice & Incense Trade with an Allure & Mythology dating back to Antiquity

Catalan Caravan Atlas Drawing

The Medieval Spice Trade   Newberry Library by Sarah Peters Kernan

How were spices used by medieval Europeans, & why were spices so valuable in medieval Europe?

Spices were an important commodity in the Middle Ages with an allure & mythology dating back to Antiquity. Spices were expensive & a sign of status in the Roman Empire. They were consumed in large quantities by the wealthiest citizens. Like many other goods, spices were easy to transport because of safe & maintained routes controlled by the Romans. When the Empire fell, local powers took control of routes & travel became more difficult as these entities engaged in war, embraced different religions, & neglected maintenance of old Roman roads. As a result, for several centuries in the early Middle Ages, people in Western Europe lacked consistent access to spices.

After religious crusaders tasted the cuisines of the Middle East in the high Middle Ages, they renewed a widespread European interest in spices for culinary & medicinal applications. Merchants procured a wide range of spices for consumers, including pepper, ginger, cinnamon, clove, & saffron, as well as the now-obscure spices like grains of paradise & spikenard. Sugar was also used as a spice during the Middle Ages. Spices again became revered luxury items & status symbols across Europe. European merchants sought out spices from Asia, traveling dangerous routes through the Middle East & Africa. Traders were faced with many challenges, including physical danger & constant economic strain from local tariffs & taxes. Because spices were from distant lands & European consumers had no direct access to their sources, stories about spice origins flourished. Contemporary authors recorded myths about pepper trees guarded by serpents & cinnamon requiring harvest from nests of fantastical birds built on perilous cliffs. These legends only added to their mystique & justified their expense.

Muslims controlled all routes of access to spices in the East from Europe. This presented a challenge for Christian & Jewish traders from the West, as there was perpetual tensions & outright warfare between Christian & Muslim powers. Muslims dominated not only land routes which spanned across the Middle East & northern Africa to Pakistan & western India, but also maritime routes throughout the Indian Ocean. In 1453, Italian merchants were largely forced to stop trading spices through combined land & sea routes. In that year the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople, a city at the convergence of all land routes to the spice centers of the East, & began levying prohibitively expensive tariffs on goods transported through the city. In an effort to find new seaways to Asia, kingdoms sponsored exploratory expeditions. Some explorers discovered new water routes to China & India, re-opening trade of spices & other goods, while others claimed land & resources in the New World.

Luxurious Consumption

Throughout the Middle Ages, spices were a status symbol & sign of luxury. Only the wealthiest could afford large quantities of spices to use for culinary purposes. Meals in noble households were ostentatious affairs, even small & relatively private meals. Consider what spices do in a cooked dish: they color food, flavor food, & make food more aromatic. Spices, then, enhance the senses of sight, taste, & smell. In the context of a medieval meal, especially a feast intended to impress guests, spices played a major role. Fountains flowing with spiced wine might be installed in or near a great hall; this lavish service of wine would scent an entire room with spices like cloves, grains of paradise, ginger, & cinnamon. Nearly any dish, whether roasted, stewed, or baked, could include an impressive array of these imported spices. In one image of a meal from a 15C prayerbook, two wealthy diners share a private meal. They are being served a pie, which in the Middle Ages consisted of a meat or fish mixture baked in a decorated pastry crust. This mixture would undoubtedly include many spices. The exterior of the pie would often be brushed with a wash with saffron, a remarkably expensive spice made from the hand-picked threads of crocus flowers, turning the finished dish into a gleaming, golden work of art.

Wealthy Ancient Romans used spices copiously in their foods, a tradition that continued for many more centuries...Pepper & cumin were the most common combination , & the chicken dish also includes spiced wine as another ingredient. While the dishes of the cookbook De re coquinaria fell out of favor in medieval Europe, the cookbook was still copied by manuscript scribes & was printed several times during the Renaissance.

Spices were not solely culinary ingredients; they were also used for their aromatic properties in perfumes & incense. In a time when bathing was infrequent, streets were not paved, & animal dung was a constant presence, pleasant aromas were highly valued. For example, frankincense & myrrh were prized for their aromas. Additionally, these spices were closely tied to the Christian tradition. In images of the three kings visiting the newborn Christ Child on Epiphany, the close of the Christmas season, frankincense & myrrh are presented as gifts equal to gold.

The Value of Spices

The value of spices was determined not only by their taste & status as luxury items, but also their medical properties & the fantastic legends attached to their production. Spices were believed to have important medical qualities; spices were ingredients in medieval pharmaceuticals. Apothecaries, the medieval equivalent to pharmacies, were stocked with supplies of spices which were then carefully mixed with other spices, minerals, & animal products to create an array of medications to be ingested by or applied on a patient. Medieval & renaissance writers devoted many pages to the benefits of spices, including the excerpts which describe cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, & pepper.

Some spices were legitimately difficult to harvest. Musk, an oil from the scent glands of a Central Eurasian deer, & ambergris, a waxy substance produced by the digestive system of the sperm whale, were 2 such spices. Others, however, were more easily procured. Yet merchants assigned bizarre stories to other spices to heighten their value for European consumers. Since most people in the medieval West had no contact with the Far East & the actual origins of spices, these myths persisted for centuries. The two most notable of these are tied to pepper & cinnamon. Pepper was said to be guarded by serpents which had to be chased away by fire. This fire turned fresh, white peppercorns into black, wrinkled spices...Cinnamon had a similarly wild story. Merchants claimed that a mythical bird called a Cinnamologus made nests out of cinnamon sticks in Arabia. These nests were built on perilous cliffs, & people had to drive the birds from these nests in order to harvest the cinnamon. Platina refers to this myth in his description of cinnamon, below.

A Profitable Venture

Spice merchants could reap enormous profits, but they also faced dangerous journeys to procure their goods. Whether traveling by land or sea, they faced perils like pirates & raiders, religious & political conflict, & accidents like shipwrecks. Traders furthermore faced financial strain to move spices from Eastern points of trade to Europe. Whenever spices were transported through different kingdoms or points of trade, merchants had to pay steep tariffs. Depending upon the spice, merchants could charge 50 or 60 percent more in Europe for the spices they bought in the Middle East. Some contemporary accounts state that merchants charged 100 percent more. However, a majority of the markup was due to tariffs, leaving traders with a smaller profit, even as little as 10 percent.

Spices entering the European market were typically transported through Venice. This city was located in a prime location in Mediterranean. It was relatively easy to access major gateways to Eastern trade routes like Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey); Aleppo, Syria; & Alexandria, Egypt. From the eleventh through the 15C, Venetian merchants ruled the European spice trade. As a result, Venice became an extremely wealthy & powerful city. Such a wealthy city attracted the most talented artisans to produce innovative architecture, artwork, & music.

By the late Middle Ages, thousands of tons of the most common spices were imported into Europe annually through Venice. The value of these spices was approximately the value of a yearly supply of grain for 1.5 million people. In 15C England, a pound of pepper cost more than two days’ wages by a skilled London craftsman. A pound of cloves cost nearly five days’ wages, while a pound a saffron cost one month’s wages. Prices varied throughout Europe & fluctuated over time, but the general idea remained the same: spices were a very expensive ingredient in medieval Europe.

Changes in the Renaissance Spice Trade

Italian traders were forced to significantly reduce trade in spices via combined land & sea routes through Constantinople in 1453. In this year, the Ottoman Empire, an Eastern superpower, conquered the city. Since Constantinople was located on major east-west & north-south trade routes, the Ottomans could charge restrictively high taxes on all goods bound for the West.

Because Europeans were denied access to spices though Constantinople, kingdoms began to sponsor the exploration of new routes to India to directly obtain spices. Portugal & Spain, however, were the first to make significant headway. The Portuguese had already begun to explore northern Africa earlier in the 1400s. So, they quickly set out on a possible sea route to India around the southern tip of Africa. Bartolomeu Dias first crossed the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, & in 1497, Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape, continued to the eastern coast of Africa, & sailed across the Indian Ocean to Calicut in south India. At long last, Europeans had direct access to Indian spices without the intervention of Arab traders. By the beginning of the 16C, the Portuguese had complete control of the African sea route. Other explorers attempted alternate routes to India by traveling westward. Christopher Columbus, an explorer for the Spanish crown, was the first of these explorers to reach the New World in 1492 traveling this route, mistaking the Bahamas for the East Indies.

Over the following centuries, consumption of spices declined. Yet they still remained an important commodity. The Dutch struggled, & eventually succeeded at the turn of the 17C, to wrest control of trade from the Portuguese by establishing the Dutch East Indies Company. The British East India Company, a direct competitor, was founded at around the same time. The goal of these companies was all the same: to establish direct trade with Indian spice producers & keep tariffs as low as possible.