Back in early February I blogged about an exhibition I intended to visit at the Garden Museum, which was all about the history of cut flowers, and when I got back from holiday I finally got around to going with my Mum. On the day I was also lucky enough to receive an invite to the closing event, ‘Floralia’, which was a floristry competition for up and coming floral designers who were challenged to create an arrangement that explored the link between floristry and fine art. There are excellent photos of the entries over on Flowerona, a prominent flower-inspired blog.
Both the exhibition and Floralia were fantastic and inspiring, and the Garden Museum is definitely now one of my new favourite spots in London! Set in the deconsecrated church of St Mary-at-Lambeth, which is home to the tomb of renowned royal gardener, traveller and plant-hunter John Tradescant and his family, the museum is beautifully done and a haven for gardening and flower enthusiasts. The old church makes for a striking setting and the museum has been designed in such a way as to highlight and retain the integrity of the original structure.
As well as a programme of informative exhibitions and events, the Garden Museum hosts a unique collection of around 10,000 objects spanning 400 years of gardening in Britain, each representing the history, culture and design of gardens in some way. There is also a shop and cafe, which leads out to a pretty ‘knot’ garden in the old churchyard. Designed as a memorial tribute to the Tradescants by the Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury, President of the Museum, in a style typical of their 17th Century times, it contains many of the species they introduced and many they grew in their own Lambeth home.
I didn’t realise at the time, but reading up on it, it transpires this garden was opened the year of my birth in 1978, by none other than Her Majesty, The Queen Mother! Strange, also, was that while I was away in Vietnam studiously revising for my upcoming plant I.D. test, one of the plants I had to learn was Tradescantia, which takes its name from John Tradescant himself! You can read all about the history of the knot garden and the museum here, but I highly recommend a visit too.