What would be your dream job? I've just come across one that sounds like my idea of heaven, and Mr Caleb Leech has gnabbed it. He's started as Managing Horticulturalist at The Cloisters Museum this month.
I hadn't actually ever heard of The Cloisters until a couple of months ago when I was researching quinces and their blog popped up in the search. It's part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and seems to offer a darn good reason to cross the Pond. (Not immediately, though. At the moment their visiting exhibition is stained glass from Canterbury Cathedral...)
The Museum itself is the only one in America dedicated exclusively to Medieval Art, and its gardens - of which there are three - have been carefully planned with reference to Medieval sources from across Europe. The Bonnefont Herb Garden includes veteran quince trees (attractively pruned) and espaliered pear trees. The Cuxa Cloister features pollarded crab apple trees and ornamental borders mingling medieval species and modern descendants. The Trie Cloister garden (being renovated at the moment) has traditionally been planted as the Medieval "flowery mead".
At first glance, it looks as if they (and the building) might have been there forever. Then you remember that this is New York. The building opened in 1938, and the gardens were laid out and planted the same year. (The oldest pear there was planted in 1940, so that's that's a moderately venerable fruit tree.)
Until her retirement in December, the Managing Horticulturalist was Dierdre Larkin and she wrote some absolutely fascinating posts on the blog, A Medieval Garden Enclosed. I highly recommend a rummage through. I've also earmarked a few of her lectures to listen to, when I get the chance (there's one in her post about Transplants.)
Caleb Leech comes, as you'd expect for a position in such an important garden, with a very good pedigree. He designed, planted and maintained the Herb Garden and Orchard at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, was raised on a farm, and worked in his family's landscaping business, as well as being the author of numerous articles.
Let's wish him well, and I hope he'll prove as enthusiastic as Dierdre was about keeping us up to date on the blog.
The Cloisters website is astonishingly short of pictures. For some lovely views, and more on the history, see The Cloisters: A Hidden Museum in New York, and The Cloisters New York City: An enchanted medieval world.