Human Flower Project
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The Garden Museum, Gradually
Arriving at Lambeth’s museum of gardening early in the year, John Levett considers wildness, ambition, and remembrances of tools past.
The Garden Museum, Lambeth
Photo: John Levett
By John Levett
I must go there sometime. I haven’t been there for decades. I always promised myself I’d go there. I was going to take mum. Everybody says it’s absolutely brilliant. There’s so much there you’ll never do it in a day.
The above said of gardens in Scotland, Germany, Spain, Yorkshire; of moors, wolds, fens, plains; of sites, remains, outcrops, remnants. Said of eating a madeleine whilst drinking coffee and reading Proust in a café in Montmartre (not to mention smoking Gauloises whilst reading Sartre at Café de Flore). Said of walking up Edge Hill in Liverpool on a late Friday afternoon in November (I have my reasons). Said of the Garden Museum in Lambeth.
When I first moved to Cambridge I used to take the coach whenever travelling to London and often glanced across the river as the coach passed along Millbank and wondered what a garden museum was doing in a church. I’ll do it sometime. Sometime came a few weeks ago.
I’d won an ebay bid for a video copy of Boulez’ 1980s version of Wagner’s Ring cycle, collection only, Wandsworth in south London, Sunday afternoon. I’d caught the first train out of Cambridge at 6:30, spent the morning with a group of photographers in Greenwich and Deptford, walked to Canonbury to the Estorick Gallery for the last day of its Boccioni exhibition, bussed to Wandsworth and came the closest I’d been so far to the Garden Museum (featured exhibition on Beth Chatto). Too late that day. Too late for Beth Chatto three days later when I turned up again.
I caught a glorious day and tourist traffic gathering speed on the South Bank where ‘living statues’ seem to be the colonists of the moment (no improvement on the how-do-I-get-out-of-this-glass-box Marcel Marceau look-alike generation).
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Kew: A Horticultural Education
Allen Bush double-dug his beginnings as a plantsman; three decades ago, he was an International Trainee at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Alpine House, Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
Photo: Martin Hamilton
By Allen Bush
Thirty years have gone by in the blink of an eye and, suddenly, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England, is celebrating its 250th anniversary. I slogged around Kew in 1979, deliriously happy with the gardens and history around me. I count my lucky stars. As a lowly International Trainee, way down the pecking order, I was thrilled to have a shot at doing Her Majesty’s service in Wellingtons—and getting an education to boot.
The 300-acre gardens at Kew, along the River Thames, upstream from London past Putney and Barnes, began as a royal getaway and grew into a powerful botanic preserve. Along the way the Kew’s Director Joseph Banks, in 1787, engaged Captain Bligh in what turned-out to be high-seas infamy, and by the early 20th century Kew plant collectors had gathered rubber tree seeds in the South American rain forest, unwittingly turning a boom into a bust.
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