A weekend in London and a visit to the wonderful Garden Museum…
Tucked away next to Lambeth Palace, the Museum is housed in a converted church. The 16th century plant hunters, gardeners and collectors, John Tradescant the Elder (c.1570-1638) and Younger (1608-1662), are buried in an ornate tomb in the garden. Apparently they used to have a small botanical museum in the area, which they called the Ark.
At this time of year everywhere’s rather bare and back to the bone, but I look forward to returning to see it during the summer. The knot garden and its surrounds are planted with species introduced by the Tradescants – such as the scarlet runner bean, red maple and tulip tree – and many others grown by them in their Lambeth garden.
A great way to spend a winter Saturday, looking at old spades and hoes, mowers and watering cans! Lots of quaint adverts reflecting changes in horticultural fashions.
As well as the permanent collection, there was also an exhibition of art inspired by gardens over the centuries. I found a lovely book in the shop recording Charlotte Verity’s year as Artist in Residence – beautiful, delicate paintings and drawings.
I envied her the chance to observe the changing seasons in such a small but resonant space – time to go deep into it and let it go deep inside her. I felt something like that during my time at Moorbank. Looking more widely now at a range of different gardens, I am missing that sense of a clear boundary. Poetry for me works best in sharp focus, in miniature. The absences associated with winter also make for a certain spareness just now. Perhaps the turn of the Solstice will shift things…
What Love is Like in Winter