Monday, 24 March 2014

London's Garden Museum

It's Museum Week in the UK and Europe, and rather fittingly, I paid my first visit to the Garden Museum at the weekend. It's a ten to fifteen-minute walk from Waterloo Station, in an old church which was saved from demolition in 1977. It is nicely situated opposite the Houses of Parliament, so it would be a good excuse to visit London for a day trip!

I could not take photos inside the temporary exhibition, Fashion and Gardens, which includes a sumptuous, red cushion embroidered with borage, cornflowers, and aquilegia; gloves decorated with irises; a lady's pocket (as in "Lucy Locket lost her Pocket") embroidered with flowers; a floaty Valentino cloak inspired by cast iron gates; an Alexander McQueen dress inspired by a double anemone; and a Philip Treacy orchid hat.

However, you can take photos in the rest of the museum. Rebecca Louise Law has created a beautiful flower installation, with hundreds of stems hung from the ceiling. It feels like a floral Cornelia Parker artwork. I saw a photo in Wedding Flowers magazine a few years ago in which a couple had hung flowers as if from a washing line at their wedding - it's a fantastic and simple idea for a wedding, and if you choose scented flowers such as garden roses or stocks, the effect would be even lovelier!

As the installation is now a few weeks old, the flowers have started to dry. But they are still beautiful, and you can see that some things, like statice and solidago, are especially good for drying as they retain their colour and form. Others, like the sunflowers and roses, look like precious, beautiful relics.

The main collection at the museum is full of old gardening tools, seed counters, paintings, and all kinds of ephemera.

I liked this advert for a lawnmower...

Gertrude Jekyll's desk...

these old catalogues and this seed counter (to measure out seeds into packets)...

...the labels on old herbicides and pesticides...

...and the mural with Charlie Chaplin!

The building itself is gorgeous; it's ever so atmospheric to have this museum in a beautiful church. And of course it has a garden - a "knot garden", with hellebores, forget-me-nots, rosemary, snowflakes, and pretty blossom. It's the perfect museum to visit on Museum Week!


  1. What a fab post shamini. I haven't heard of this museum before but definitely plan to go soon. Amazing it is so close to parliament.

  2. Thanks Nicola! I'd never heard of it until last year. It's one of those lovely things about being a Londoner - no matter how well you think you know the city, you can still discover new places.