The Garden Museum ….. the U.K.

Spring Plant Fair 2023

Our Spring Plant Fair returns on Sunday 16 April

This beloved specialist plant fair has been held at the Garden Museum for over 40 years, gathering expert plant growers and specialist nurseries from around the country to sell some of the best garden plants you’ll find in London. From shade specialists to plants for pollinators, meet the growers and they will help you pick something special that will flourish for whatever growing space you have available, be it a garden, window box, balcony or allotment.

Stalls will include Beth Chatto Gardens, Moore & Moore Plants, Glendon Farm Nursery, and Nobottle Nursery. This year’s fair will also feature a programme of talks and activities curated by Susanna Grant, founder of Hackney-based shade specialist plant shop Hello There Linda.

More details coming soon!

Sun 16 April, 10am – 4pm
£5 Standard, £4 Friends

Book tickets

The Wild Escape

There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden…
what else can we find outside?

We are delighted to be taking part in #TheWildEscape with Art Fund and hundreds of other museums this year! The project unites schools, families and museums in a big celebration of UK wildlife and nature.

Our project will explore science and art through school visits exploring the world of earthworms. Pupils will investigate the structure of earthworms using microscopes, and then make a small wormery to take back to school. The Garden Museum will also create our own wormery!

And in February half-term and the Easter holidays, we will have family workshops creating two-dimensional creatures out of paper inspired by the wildlife we find in our gardens. These will be displayed as a collaborative artwork for Earth Day on 22 April, and on display until the end of May.

Attend a workshop

A History of Potted Plants

By Giovanni Aloi, Curator
Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits

In 1939, Lucian Freud painted a stack of clay pots. At first glance, this is a simple and charming image. On the right is a potted prickly pear (opuntia). On the left is a small silvery pachyphytum. From the perspective of a plant lover, there isn’t much to see… The pads of the prickly pear are cropped by the picture frame—much of the plant is left out. It is not what Freud wanted to focus on. The pachyphytum looks unassuming and fragile in its tiny clay pot. Unusual in composition and even stranger in subject, this is one of the most overlooked paintings by Lucian Freud. But this is one of Freud’s most meaningful works, especially if considered in the context of his long-lasting determination to paint plants in a way that no other artist had previously done. Potted plants have a long history and yet western art has had a complicated relationship with them.

It is known that clay and ceramic pots were widely used in India, Japan, China, and Korea over 3000 years ago, mostly to bring plants closer to houses and in courtyards rather than indoors. Terracotta plant pots have been found in the Minoan palace at Knossos on Crete. The Romans preferred to plant lemon trees in large marble pots. And throughout the Middle Ages, pots were used in convents to grow herbs as well as to keep life-saving medicinal plants close at hand.

Keep reading

The House of a Lifetime:
Umberto Pasti and Ngoc Minh Ngo

Last few tickets!

Writer Umberto Pasti’s house and garden in Tangier is the ultimate example of a well-curated Moroccan villa, filled with museum-quality pieces of furniture, luminous textiles, rare tiles, ceramics, and other objets d’art; set in a lush hillside garden filled with the native flora of northern Morocco.

To celebrate the launch of their new book The House of a Lifetime, Umberto and photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo are joined in conversation by garden designer Tania Compton.

Tues 21 February, 7pm
£20 Standard, £15 Friends, £10 Young Fronds / Students
£10 Livestream

Book tickets

Object of the Week:
Horticultural Basketware (1937)

This advert for horticultural basketware was pubished in the catalogue for the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Great Spring Show’ in the Royal Hospital grounds at Chelsea in 1937. The baskets were produced by disabled soldiers at the Lord Robert’s Workshops in London, which were established in the 1890s to provide employment and training for injured servicemen. By 1920 there were eleven workshops producing goods such as baskets, toys and furniture.

Explore our collection online
Images: Spring Plant Fair 2022 (c) Graham Lacdao; Islington Back Garden by Susan Shipp  (c.1960), Garden Museum Collection; A hand-coloured woodcut print of a 16th century gardener from ‘The Herbal’ or ‘Krauterbuch’ by Adam Lonicer (Lonitzer); Umberto Pasti’s house (c) Ngoc Minh Ngo
Garden Museum
5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB

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Garden Museum · Lambeth Palace Road · London, London SE1 7LB · United Kingdom

Gardening Friends

Today we visited each of your garden spots. You didn’t know we came by….it was intentional because we came just to view the process of winter. It’s been a mild one so far and the growth and dying back process is about where it shouid be. We did do a few things at each property. With two more full months of winter likely, we are making notes and planning tasks and thinking about new ideas to introduce to each of you…….come spring

We are fighting flu like symptoms but a much needed outing helped us to fight off the chill and fever. We needed fresh air, space and some filtered sunlight. It seems we accomplished soaking up these attributes from our much needed outing. We are feeling somewhat better this evening. Hoping our chilled feelings and mild symptoms of winter flu are giving in slightly… the rest we have cherished and so needed over the last seven days. It’s our winter hibernation of sorts. Plain old fashioned rest.

We have made notes and have some ideas we will share with each of you as we get closer to spring. Mother Mature  certainly knows what she is doing…. and our brief respit is perhaps her intentional way of slowing us down. The earth is at rest and so are we.

And now we will sleep. And so will each of your properties also rest. And we can work out visions in our mind of “new” projects for each of you when spring arrives.

Good to be in touch and good to see your lovely spaces today. We will communicate individually with all of you between now and March 15th.

Do take good care….and be well  



Garden Museum Literary Festival 2023:
Tickets available now!

We are delighted to announce that the next Garden Museum Literary Festival will be held at Parham House, West Sussex on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 June 2023, hosted by Lady Emma Barnard and her husband, James.

This boutique annual festival is Britain’s only travelling Literary Festival, with previous hosts including Chatsworth House (2022), Helmingham Hall (2021), and Houghton Hall (2019). Each venue provides a space over two summer days for us to celebrate the best in garden writing and to share what inspires us in gardens.

Parham House is one of the country’s finest Elizabethan houses set at the foot of the South Downs in West Sussex. This beautiful place, with its award-winning gardens, has changed little over the centuries and remains a family home.

The festival will include talks by some of the UK’s most influential and award-winning garden designers and authors, as well as opportunities to explore the magnificent historic gardens and house at Parham.

Limited tickets available so don’t hesitate!

Weekend Tickets (Friday and Saturday)

Standard: £225
Friend: £190
Concession (Young Frond/Student/Unemployed): £95

Day Tickets

Standard: £140
Friend: £120
Concession (Young Frond/Student/Unemployed): £60

The festival programme will be announced at a later date.

Book tickets

Images: Parham House photo by Elizabeth Zeschin; Parham Long Gallery with vine leaf pattern painted by Oliver Messel, photo by Jonathan Wilkinson


Sow, Grow Eat

A new programme for teenagers to explore horticulture and cooking

Do you know any teenagers aged 13-17 based in South London who might be interested in dipping their toes in the career of a gardener, food grower or chef?

We are looking for up to eight teenagers to join our free ‘Sow, Grow, Eat’ programme, which involves spending one Saturday a month at the Garden Museum for ten months. Participants will learn sowing, planting and gardening skills in our greenhouse and gardens, then in our studio kitchen we’ll do hands-on cooking sessions using some of the produce grown throughout the year. No prior experience necessary, just an enthusiasm for plants!

Apply by Monday 13 February
Programme runs March – December

Find out more

Life Drawing Class
Lucian Freud: Drawing Plant Portraits

Back for a second session by popular demand!

Lucian Freud is infamous for his gritty, fleshy nudes, and so inspired by our current exhibition Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits, London Drawing Group will be offering a life drawing class like no other. Set against the soaring backdrop of our central nave space, and nestled amongst a backdrop of lush plants, our incredible model Lily will be posing in, with and amongst our leafy friends.

Tickets include access to the exhibition, guided instruction and bespoke drawing exercises throughout our Life Drawing class.

Fri 24 February, 6.30pm – 8.3pm
£30 Standard, £25 Friends / Young Fronds

Book tickets

Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77):
View Across the Rooftops of Lambeth Palace

A rare 17th century sketch of the view from our medieval tower is currently on auction with Sotheby’s. We take a closer look at what we can learn from the sketch in this article, reproduced from ‘Sotheby’s New York January 2023 Catalogue: Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries’:

Wenceslaus Hollar’s bird’s eye view of Lambeth House (Palace), official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is a splendid example of the artist’s dynamic ‘on the spot’ sketches. It has not appeared at auction since the drawing was discovered in a sale, in 1931, by the art historian, Iolo A. Williams. Its re-emergence, as a work by Hollar, provides a wonderful opportunity to delight and delve into the world of this fascinating Bohemian artist, whose drawings rarely come to the market.

Born in Prague in 1607, Wenceslaus Hollar was a prolific draughtsman and printmaker, who is perhaps best known for his visual records of mid 17th century England. His drawings and prints of London before the great fire of 1666 are historical documents of great importance, as well as aesthetically appealing images of a bygone world.

Keep reading

Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits

Exhibition Catalogue

Can’t make it to see our Lucian Freud exhibition in person, or want to find out more his artistic relationship with plants? The exhibition catalogue is available now in our online bookshop!

Beautifully illustrated with examples of Freud’s plant paintings and etchings, this catalogue includes interviews with Freud’s longtime studio assistant David Dawson and daughter Annie Freud.

Order your copy for just £20

Buy a catalogue

Call for papers!
Visions of Welfare Conference

This May we are hosting an international conference discussing the role of women in the creation of the spaces of the post-war Welfare States, co-hosted by the Women of the Welfare Landscape Project, the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain and the Women in Danish Architecture project.

The importance of quality open spaces for health and wellbeing has been highlighted more than ever by the Covid-19 pandemic. And historically the provision of well designed, accessible, open public spaces was a crucial part of a wider concept of economic redistribution.

While previous research has uncovered the work of many individual ‘heroines’ and celebrated iconic design projects by women, this conference invites abstracts that consider the role of women in creating the spaces of the period internationally with the aim of looking beyond individual achievements and professional boundaries.

Abstracts of 200 words are invited and should be submitted online by Monday 30 January 2023
Tickets to attend the conference will be available soon

Find out more

Object of the Week:
Illustrated Letters in the William Shute Barrington Archive

By Alice Ridgway, Archivist

January 16th marked ‘Blue Monday’ the most melancholy day of the year. However, mine was brightened by discovering some charming drawings in the William Shute Barrington archive, which we hold in the Archive of Garden Design.

The archive contains correspondence, plans, plant lists, sketches and paintings between 1920-1940 relating to the gardening career of Viscount William ‘Bill’ Reginald Barrington (1873-1960). After a career in the military, Barrington restored and redesigned gardens at a number of stately homes in East Sussex and further afield. His gardening philosophy aimed to give the illusion that a garden had existed forever, stating that ‘its relationship to the surrounding fields, hills and buildings should have a naturalness borne of scrupulous attention to detail’.

The letters I found were sent by Guy Roderick Falkner, an unknown gardening friend of Barrington. They thank him for his plant cuttings and hospitality and give short updates about his horticultural projects. My favourite drawing features two cartoon birds – most likely a depiction of the tame pair of starlings that lived with Barrington alongside his partner, Violet Gordon Woodhouse.

Keep reading
Images: Sow, Grow, Eat illustration by Ross Bennett; Plant Life Drawing photo courtesy of Luisa MacCormack; Visions of Welfare Conference © Fortepan / Szabó Gábor
Garden Museum
5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB

Dragonflies….the keeper of dreams



Dragonflies are the keeper of dreams,

the energy within, that sees all our true potential and ability.

Dragonflies inspire individuality and creativity

They help us on the path of discovery and enlightenment.

•  ••••••••••••••••••••  •

They remind us, that anything is possible. In almost every part of the world, the Dragonfly symbolizes 




and self-realization.

The change comes with mental and emotional maturity

and understanding the deeper meaning of life.


LORD, my omnipotent Father God…may I call out to your mercy and kindness. I wish to change, and transform my life. Help me to adapt to new ways and fulfill the possibilities of my mental and moral qualities. I know that these changes can only materialize with growing in your maturity. Teach me your ways O Lord, that I can become the woman who appreciates all of life, and help me to understand the true meaning and purpose for my life path. I only wish to honor you in all that I do. I now pray to be granted the dream your dragonflies are keeping for me. I await, I trust and I know that anything is possible with your blessing over me. Amen.

Calm….and creating “hygge”

To create “hygge” in your life there are well known things you can do to bring that sense of calm, and cozy…ness in to  your personal space. And with more of us working from home during these times, it’s essential that you carve out habits and rituals, if you will, that help you bath your inner self in tranquility and real “calm.”

Tea rituals are special. Take the time to visit a true organic market and see about purchasing some whole dried herbs,  such as mint, orange peal, or clove. Experiment and create you own hot tea recipe. If you prepare the blend yourself; the simple act of preparation/mixing and assembling your tea, can bring meaningful ritual into your life. This in itself shows you that you are taking time to do something for “yourself.” This act is so calming and cozy.

While you are at the organic market maybe purchase a revitalizing fragrant candle. We use Lavender scent. But each person has their own preference. Explore and experiment.

Greenery is a terrific way to bring beauty, clean air and a calm feeling into your personal space. An Aloe plant might be a good start. And you can acquire one plant at a time. Learn it; what water it needs, what light it prefers and treat it with calm and tender care. This one conscious act with regularity can bring a peace and calm into your life and make your personal space more cozy and personally inviting. Your little heavenly spot where you visit your “calm” and while there…in your “calm”… experience profound gratitude for your life and your well being. Amen!

Making time for tea,🫖 candles,🕯and greenery🪴can be the beginning of your journey to exploring more Calm. You deserve this calm in your life.

Add beautiful music 🎵 to your menu for calm. Remove clutter, bring light🔆into your personal space, slow down and your “hygge” will find you. A coziness and well-being.

So……give yourself permission to “get your hygge on.” Your own cozy and calm.

Namaste 🙏 .. from “Contessa

P.S. …… and now that we are “calm,” we will proceed to our 12 Noon Yoga class!

Sewing Spring Seeds….growing!

I have my very own collection of new seeds for spring planting. I’ve found in the past, that if I wait until early  spring (April 1st) to make my selections, they are very picked over, and often I miss out on the ones I’m really looking for. So last week I made my “picks” and purchased them all at my visit to the nursery. I’m so excited. 

First on my fav”’ list is:

Sweet Peas………Lathyrus odoratus

Sweet Peas are of several varieties. I’ve selected the “Bouquet” blend.  They are referred to as a Spencer type, ideal for cutting, because of their extra large flowers, longer and sturdier stems, and they produce a larger number of blooms each year. The are ruffled, lightly scented and are a “romantic” flare. I bought them to be able to cut and bring in the house. I love a tiny vase of flowers near the kitchen window, one on the bathroom sink and one beside my pillow. Sweet Peas aroma is very light and delicate. Can’t wait!!

I have also selected four other seedlings this year, to include Cosmos, Nasturtium, Fireball Zinnia and Sunrise Morning Glory.

My sweetheart and I have a connection with Sweet Peas, so I’m certain I’ll be putting a few of these puffy/curly flowers under his chin, in hopes that the aroma will spark a little feeling of amorous adoration. What a lovely thought and anticipation…..Amen!

Contessa” says……it is such a lovely and sweet thing to do!

Tea Time…….

Today we received a special “gift” sampling of nutritional, medicinal, herbal tea recipes. The art of herbal tea preparation is a ritual of creating the perfect delicious blend and flavor balance. It encompasses a mix of select herbs appropriately measured to create flavor, nourishment, and served in calm and peace ….with love and care.

Enjoyed by those who treasure

“the art of tea.”

• ••••••••••• •

Tea Pots

Tea Leaves

Tea for 2

Tea Prep

Tea Cup

Tea Lover

Tea & Writing & Books

Tea Party

Tea and Sympathy

Tea….a hug in a cup

Afternoon Tea

Tea Sandwiches

Wedding Tea

Art of Tea

Tea Samplings

Tea Mixing

Tea Shop

Sweet Tea

…….thank you dearest friend…….

……having tea now……

feeling very warm

and very relaxed!