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Tuesday 4th July – 26th meeting of 2017

Having met up at Waterloo we walked towards the Museum and while crossing Westminster Bridge had a ‘celebrity spot’ as Rupert Maas from Antique Roadshow was waiting on his bike at the red lights so we could cross the road. We then had a spot of retail therapy in St Thomas Hospital shop before reaching the Garden Museum. We went straight to the newly built coffee shop for refreshments. It is very light and spacious with a new varied menu and was quiet when we were there although it did get very busy by lunchtime when we passed it again.

The Garden Museum re-opened in June 2017 and so everything was very fresh and new and was very different from the old Garden Museum we had visited before. The building of St Mary’s church has been kept intact and the refurbished interior attached to it and a series of outbuildings have extended the scope of what can be done there thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding and eighteen months of building work. Previously only 140 objects were on display but now with the new upstairs galleries up to 1000 things can be viewed.

It is now possible to see the Tradescant’s Orchard – pictures of the fruit varieties grown in Britain in C17th which were donated to Oxford University by Elias Ashmole in 1692 and are now on loan to Lambeth, back in London after 300 years. Various other displays included tools used over hundred of years – examples of garden gnomes from abroad as well as Britain, toy gardens complete with trees, flowers etc. In the Wolfson Ark Gallery whilst the work was going on they discovered a vault where five Archbishops of Canterbury were buried. At the moment a glass panel in the floor covers the steps down to it but in September it is hoped archaeologists will be able to go down and do a proper survey and maybe for some public access at some point.

An interesting fact picked up was that 50% of trees in London are Plane trees probably because they have a self-defence mechanism where they can shed some bark if polluted and renew.  The tallest Plane tree on record is 48.5 metres.

A ‘not so’ interesting fact was that Linus Urbance from Sweden holds the current world record for brussel sprout eating in 1 minute.  On November 26th 2008 he swallowed 31!!

There is currently plenty to look at from all aspects of plants, trees, vegetables and their growth and cultivation.  A  new garden has been designed by Dan Pearson to replace the old Knot Garden which had to be built over to make a new learning centre. The garden is smaller but still centred around the memorial to William Bligh.  A lot more gardens at the front of the building are still being developed and it is now possible to climb the Tower of the church building to get a view over the area.

It was very interesting and although there are now a lot more exhibits because they are spaced out in nice bright display cases etc it doesn’t feel too much to see.