A year of art and gardens awaits!
We are delighted to announce our 2023 exhibitions programme:

Private & Public: Finding the Modern British Garden

The interwar period in Britain saw a flowering of artists retreating to plant and paint in their gardens. This exhibition will bring together intimate depictions of private gardens and public green spaces by artists including Charles Mahoney, Evelyn Dunbar, Eric Ravilious and Ithell Colquhoun.

Presented in partnership with Liss Llewellyn. Works will be available for purchase in aid of the Museum’s educational programmes.

22 March – 25 June 2023

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Jean Cooke: Ungardening

Jean Cooke (1927-2008) was not a conventional gardener, once describing ‘ungardening’ as her hobby. But she derived much inspiration from her overgrown London garden and the cliff-top meadow at her Sussex cottage. Emerging from the shadow of her difficult marriage to the artist John Bratby, this exhibition will spotlight Cooke’s long-underrated yet magnificent garden paintings and expressive portraiture in a museum setting for the first time.

19 July – 1 October 2023

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Frank Walter

This exhibition will present the landscape and nature paintings of Antiguan artist Frank Walter (1962-2009), exploring his genius as a gardener and early conservationist on the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, and Dominica, as well as one of the most distinctive figures in modern Caribbean art. Guest curation by Professor Barbara Paca, Ph.D., O.B.E.

18 October 2023 – 21 January 2024

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Gift Membership for Christmas

Fancy going to all of our 2023 exhibitions for free? Garden Museum Friends can enjoy unlimited free entry year-round! Membership also includes discounted event tickets, Friends Private Views, 15% discount in the museum shop, a complimentary copy of the Garden Museum Journal and priority booking to our popular garden visits and Literary Festival.

Or why not give a year of art and gardens to a loved one for Christmas with a gift membership? Membership starts at just £36 a year.

Friends Membership

A thank you to Bertie Leffman, long-time supporter of our Horticultural Traineeship

By Matt Collins, Head Gardener

We were saddened by the news recently that Bertie Leffman, a long time supporterof the Museum’s Horticultural Traineeship, had passed away. Bertie’s generous annual donation, which was given in memory of the pleasure he took visiting gardens with his late wife, has since 2013 enabled us to run a successful, unique and increasingly popular traineeship programme. Match-funded by the National Garden Scheme, it offers one gardener each year the opportunity to work with me in the gardens here and engage in the Museum’s busy and exciting schedule of horticultural talks and events, while also getting to spend time in gardens nationwide (and occasionally abroad), learning alongside fantastic plantspeople from head gardeners and landscape designers to floral artists, growers and garden writers…

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Plant of the Week: Mexican tree dahlia (Dahlia tamaulipana)

By Matt Collins, Head Gardener

Two years ago we marked the flowering of our enormous tree dahlia in a stand alone piece for the museum newsletter, however its blooming this week has been so spectacular — and right on the cusp of frosts — that I wanted to mark the occasion once more, with a ‘Plant of the Week’ dedication. In fact, watching for a crown of amethyst-pink flowers to appear on this behemoth of a dahlia (D. tamaulipana, a rare species dahlia introduced to the UK from north east Mexico by plantsman and collector Nick Macer) has become something of an annual fixture in the garden calendar: a ‘will they/won’t they’ each year, as we gaze up at fattening buds hoping a sudden temperature drop won’t prevent their unfolding. Had this week’s weather arrived a little sooner, this may well have been the result. But once again we’ve been treated to a final and fleeting flicker of colour to close out the year.

The slow progression of this tender perennial is a quiet delight: throughout the growing season it is no more than a leafy foil for the various bulgings and bloomings of the courtyard; a steady swelling that by autumn would equal a garden shed in size; a small elephant, maybe. In October we stake and support its bowing branches, with a stake the size of a fence post sledgehammered-in somewhere towards the middle and string woven between stems as inconspicuously as possible. Once trussed, we await the morning when gathering buds are suddenly spied — usually by one of our volunteer gardeners — as if sprouted over night. If we’re lucky, the first violet flowers open by December. Earlier this week I stood watching a solitary bumblebee moving from flower to flower, which I’d not seen before: might this be the year we get seeds?

In the New Year there will be bud break on the fatsias, and then the melianthus, followed by the erythroniums that creep through the courtyard planting. Soon after, spring bulbs will emerge, which promise to put on a great show. But for now we celebrate another fantastic, energetic, eventful year at the museum in the presence of rare flowers.

About our gardens

Object of the Week:
Mary & Pete (1948) by Anthony Gross

British printmaker, painter, war artist and film director Anthony Gross painted this picture of his children Mary and Pete in their Chelsea garden in 1948. Mary recently visited the Garden Museum to see the painting in person for the first time in years, and shared the story behind it:

“It was painted in 1948 when we lived in Old Church Street, Chelsea from 1945 to 1958. We seem bored with posing and would prefer playing with our toys and swinging on the swing hanging on a branch of the pear tree. It was spectacular when in blossom in spring and seemed to invade the house. In fact, it influenced the short story ‘Bliss’ by Katherine Mansfield written by her in 1918 when she was living two doors down from our house. A few words about my green fabric horse seen in our toy box: he was my favourite toy and I adored him and ever since green has been my favourite colour, but I cannot remember his name…!” 

This painting was acquired for the Garden Museum Collection through the HLF Collecting Cultures scheme.

Explore our collection online
Images: Evelyn Dunbar (1906-1960), Invitation to the Garden, c. 1938, image courtesy of Liss Llewellyn; Jean Cooke, Through the Looking Glass (1960) Oil on canvas © Royal Academy of Arts, London, photographer John Hammond; Sailboats through Coconut Palms, oil on card, 33 x 28 cm, no date Frank Walter; British Flowers Week Late 2022 © Graham Lacdao; Garden Museum courtyard photo courtesy of Gardens Illustrated © Eva Nemeth; Mexican tree dahlia in the courtyard garden © Matt Collins; Mary & Pete (1948) by Anthony Gross, image courtesy of the artist’s estate