I like to visit different places every time I go to London. Prior to my recent trip, I did some research. I thought that the Garden Museum in Lambeth sounded interesting. As it’s a private museum, there’s an adult admission fee of £5.00 for the permanent collection, £7.50 when there’s a temporary exhibition. I requested complimentary press entry, which was granted.
The Garden Museum London
The Garden Museum is located in the former St Mary’s Church. The museum first opened in 1977, inspired by the fact that John Tradescant The Elder, and his son John The Younger, gardeners to Charles 1 and plant-hunters, were buried in the grounds of St Mary’s Church.
There was a lovely flower arrangement above the door leading from the vestibule into the main building.
The flower arrangement above the entrance
The interior of the deconsecrated St Mary’s church was beautiful, with several stained glass windows.
Stained glass windows at the Garden Museum
There are some none too interesting displays on the mezzanine floor, including a Yates Seeds display cabinet and some old lawn mowers.
Yates Seeds display cabinet at the Garden Museum London
You get some of the best views of the building from the mezzanine floor.
Looking down from the mezzanine floor at the Garden Museum
On the ground floor was a temporary exhibition, ‘Gnome and Away; Secrets of the Collection’ featuring some items not usually on display such as gnomes, gardening tools and shoes. Looking at some of the items, I think it might not have been such a loss if they stayed secret.
Gardening tools display at the Garden Museum London
For me, the most interesting part of the Garden Museum was the ‘Cosmic Landscapes’ exhibition, showcasing the land art of Charles Jencks. As soon as I saw the photos of his work, I was reminded of the Landform Udea in the grounds of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, which I then discovered had been created by Jencks.
Jencks created the Garden of Cosmic Speculation in the grounds of his home near Dumfries in south-west Scotland.
Photos of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation
Jencks’ most recent project is the Crawick Multiverse, also in south-west Scotland.
Photos of the Crawick Multiverse
The garden at the Garden Museum has the same plants that the Tradescants grew in their gardens almost 400 years ago. The centerpiece is a knot garden.
The Tomb of the Tradescants where John The Elder and John the Younger, plus other family members are buried, is covered in relief sculptures.
Seven headed hydra carved one of the side panels of the Tomb of the Tradescants
Family coat of arms on the Tomb of the Tradescants
The Cafe offers some seating in the garden, but it was too chilly when I visited in early September for there to be any takers.
Cafe seating in the garden
There were some very tempting and unusual cakes in the Cafe, including Butternut Squash and Courgette, Ginger & Lime, but I didn’t succumb.
Butternut Squash Cake
If Id’paid £7.50 to get into the Garden Museum, I’d have been disappointed. I’d expected there to be a lot more about the history and development of gardening in the UK. The three other visitors to the Garden Museum with whom I conversed were all of a similar opinion.
As the food served in the Cafe looked delicious, I recommend that you put the admission fee towards buying something at the Cafe, (as there’s no admission fee if you only want to go to the Cafe). Then you’ll be able to see the beautiful interior and, weather permitting, sit in garden.
Please note that Garden Museum will be closed from the end of October 2015 until early 2017 to undergo major renovation.